The exhibition features painting, sculpture, and works on paper, highlighting Merz’s pioneering role since the mid-1960s as a central figure and the only female artist in the Arte Povera movement.
Throughout Merz’s oeuvre, the figure of the face emerges at times in arabesque lines of graphite, or radiant gold leaf, or molded from clay. Each reveals a ghostly configuration of abstracted features that defy expressions of individual identity, fixing each form in a state of suspended time. Operating within their own temporal logic, these works powerfully mirror Merz’s overarching artistic belief in the enduring effect of each piece beyond its material realization and the constraints of time and place. In soft wax or sheets of metal, Merz’s images are like primordial evocations, enigmatic yet intimate. In this exhibition, works of knit copper punctuate Merz’s drawn figures, pulling the viewer between figurative identification and phenomenological experience of abstract sculptures.
Germano Celant describes in Merz’s work an attempt to represent the dialogue between principles which are “both active and passive, rigid and supple, opaque and transparent, permanent and ephemeral.” Known for her unconventional use of materials, such as copper wire, clay, wax, and sheets of metal, Merz brings dichotomous materials into a uniquely personal aesthetic language, creating abstracted, organic forms that are radiant, visceral, and intimate.