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Wanda Koop: HeartBeat Bots
October 3, 2020 - November 14, 2020Free
Night Gallery is pleased to announce HeartBeat Bots, an exhibition of paintings by Wanda Koop. This is the artist’s second solo exhibition at Night Gallery.
An ongoing series dating back to the mid-80s but exhibited for the first time, HeartBeat Bots reveals Koop’s fascination with robotics and the post-human condition. The exhibition is anchored by a suite of canvases depicting robotic subjects, anthropomorphic in appearance and situated within the conventions of portrait painting. All of the paintings were made in the artist’s Riding Mountain studio, a remote setting some 130 miles Northwest of her home in Winnipeg, Canada. Koop’s palette—fluid strokes of neon pink and orange; vibrating fields of blue—breathes life into her near-human robots. Loosely contained assemblages of marks and color fields, these figures also conjure topography, their surfaces resembling landscapes of a planet that is neither alien nor familiar. Koop paints the human into machine and landscape alike.
This fluidity is central to HeartBeat Bots, where Koop has filled the gallery with fragments of the terrestrial. The procession of mechanized portrait sitters is threaded through with images of veiny trees, spider webs, and a full moon pulsating above a reflective lake. Other works appear stripped of representational content, such as Breaking News (Colour Bar), a massive color field painting composed of a luminous yellow ground resting above a strip of eight vertical bars. Parallel drips descend from the top of the canvas, cinching and swelling to resemble massive teardrops. Physical expressions of emotion, which the artist describes as “cutting the surface,” extends to a body of paintings recently exhibited at the Dallas Museum of Art: eight monumental landscapes (two of which are included in HeartBeat Bots), similarly punctured by pairs of falling “tears,” project an affective dimension of human psychology onto thinking machines. Just as robots are created by humans to fulfill a purpose, of her paintings Koop says: “I’m making something that is highly useful in a psychological way… that we see ourselves in it.”