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Adam McEwen (b. 1965)
Adam McEwen (b. 1965)

Untitled

Details
Adam McEwen (b. 1965)
Untitled
signed and dated 'A McEwen 2012' (on the reverse)
graphite mounted on aluminum panel
96 x 48 in. (243.8 x 121.9 cm.)
Executed in 2012.
Provenance
Gift of the artist

Lot Essay

Untitled is a work from Adam McEwen's graphite series, composed of a large graphite panel mounted on aluminum. This immense piece, from 2012, is modeled after a plywood board, and articulates the curvilinear texture of the object in subtle hues of gray. The intricate variegation of wooden pattern and hue is captured in an amazing level of detail, creating a work that is both hyper-real and fictional. Here, the artist evokes both painting and the modeling of form, blurring the line between object and representation by creating a copy of a three dimensional sheet of wood that is presented as a two dimensional object on the wall. This stunningly complex work addresses the banality of both material and substance, composing the texture of plywood through graphite in order to consider these forms in a new light. The use of graphite, a medium traditionally used for writing and drawing, connects back to McEwen's previous career as an obituary writer, and questions the notion of medium specificity in the art world. When hung on the wall, Untitled appears as a sort of unprimed canvas, its lack of representation rendering the meaning and intention of painting futile.

Untitled is a part of the artist's acclaimed graphite series, in which he creates elaborately detailed models of everyday objects from blocks of machine-chiseled graphite. McEwen is best known for various series of paintings, sculptures and photographs that deal with the banality of everyday life and the ordinariness of the materials around us. In this particular catalogue of work, carbon copies of ATM machines, credit cards, and other relics of capitalism and consumer culture are rendered inert through their materiality, the graphite medium removing any trace of functionality. By articulating banal objects through graphite, these works cause the viewer to stop and take notice of their form -- the beautifully reflective, monochromatic gray materiality of each piece highlighting the complex structure of its creation. Removed from their function, works from the graphite series are purely textural and symbolic, evoking an intended purpose and underlying meaning while highlighting the qualities of form through the texture and color of graphite, a material rarely encountered on such a grand scale.

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