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Japanese Helmet Stand

Japanese Helmet Stand
acrylic on paper
40 x 28 3⁄4in. (101.5 x 73cm.)
Executed in 2011
Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Berlin.
Private Collection, New York.
Private Collection, London.
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Lot Essay

Executed in grisaille, a monochrome technique traditionally used for portrayals of sculptural relief,  Avery Singer’s Japanese Helmet Stand embodies the artist’s wry and atemporal visual idiom. Singer’s depiction of a Samurai’s helmet-stand seems equally at home in the world of robotics as it would be amongst Marcel Duchamp’s Readymades. Like the Dadaists before her, Singer embraces incongruous juxtapositions, art-historical intrigue and conceptual rigour in her endeavour to transform the ways we see the present. Created in 2011, just after Singer’s graduation from The Cooper Union, Japanese Helmet Stand is an early work by the artist who has since had solo exhibitions at Secession, Vienna, the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum.

During her studies in New York City, Singer tested out multiple mediums, unsure as to what to pursue. It was only after viewing an exhibition of Albert Oehlen’s black-and-white ‘computer paintings’ that she turned to painting.  While her earliest canvases share the German artist’s monochromatic palette, Wade Guyton’s inkjet-printer paintings served as an equally important reference point. Like Guyton, Singer aimed to remove all traces of the artist’s hand, designing her compositions in SketchUp, a 3D modelling program, before painting them using an airbrush and stencil. Transposing virtual spaces and objects onto the illusory surface of painting, these complex works imagine scenes and encounters from the artist’s life recast upon an abstracted stage. For Singer, the ‘artist’s duty … is to reflect the times’, and her canvases give image to a fractured world, at once enchanting and outlandish (A. Singer quoted in S. Mitter’s, ‘Avery Singer Pushes the Limits of Painting’, W, 7 September 2021).

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