Virginia Overton

by Felicity Lunn

freymond-guth Ltd. fine ARTS

Virginia Overton’s means of engagement with the physicality of materials – particularly their suspense, weight and gravity – places her firmly in the current generation of sculptors, yet her strategies for displacement and negotiation are unusually intricate.
The American artist’s first exhibition in Switzerland contained three main pieces, each shown on its own in a separate space. In the narrow entrance area, the artist nonchalantly leant four wooden planks against the wall (Untitled, all works 2011) and turned these finds from a Zurich building site into elegantly spare and, ironically, rather feminine sculptures by dint of a light bulb attached to the top of three of them. If it hadn’t been for the trailing electrical wire, peeling paint and worn surface of the wood, the installation might have been mistaken in formal terms for a DIY imitation of John McCracken’s Minimalist sculptures.

Another plank – this time painted yellow – formed the lynchpin of the second installation, which almost filled the smaller of the two gallery spaces. Untitled (Zurich) was created from objects salvaged in the area surrounding the gallery and is therefore a kind of indirect portrait. The plank – suspended by a single rope from the ceiling – hung horizontally in the middle of the room; insulation foam covered one end while a glass carafe, half-filled with water, sat near the middle. In this precarious balancing act, the plank could have rotated and the carafe fallen down at any moment. The small size of the room forced viewers to move carefully around the work, which blocked and disorientated. The room, its occupants and the yellow paint were reflected in the carafe’s glass surface, thus producing a shifting microcosm of the whole.

In the main space, Overton surprised with an installation as clean-cut and graphic as the first two works were raw and physically confrontational. Appropriating the cartoon-like girl familiar throughout the USA as an adornment for truck mudflaps, the artist repeated a near life-size, black cut-out version in a frieze along the base of all four walls. 16 Mudflap girls (360°) – each of the 16 girls rotated a few degrees further than the previous, like a cinematic somersault – seems to free the figure from her frozen position. At first glance, this work looks aesthetically very different from Untitled and Untitled (Zurich). Yet all of these works deftly change one’s perception of the space as much as drawing attention to themselves.

Felicity Lunn

frieze d/e

Summer 2011
Issue 1

First published in Issue 1

Summer 2011

Most Read

Review

Kunsthalle Wien, Austria

Feature

To celebrate frieze’s quarter century, the editors choose 25 key artworks: one for each year of the magazine...

Interview

An interview with Rosie Hastings and Hannah Quinlan about their project, UK Gaybar Directory 
‘Bagism’, 2016, installation view K11 Art Space, Shanghai. Courtesy: © chi K11 art museum, Shanghai, 2016

Critic's Guide

The highlights of the city’s summer shows 

News

An East London arts community rallies against gentrification; Executive Director of New York's El Museo...

Influences

A Neolithic mask and Roberto Bolaño’s Savage Detectives: the artist duo share a selection of important...

Feature

The second in our new five part series: the frieze editors select the most significant shows from the past 25 years

Culture Digest

Frozen margaritas and other investments in foolishness
Danny Lyon, Tesca, Cartagena, Colombia, 1966. Cibachrome, printed 2008, 26 x 26 cm. Courtesy: Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York © Danny Lyon

Review

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA
Frédéric Nauczyciel, Red Shoes, 2015
, HD video. From the ‘House of HMU’ series, with Kendall Miyake Mugler, shot at the Chapelle du Musée d’Art et d’Histoire de Saint-Denis, France. Courtesy: the artist 

City Report

On the city’s increasingly fluid fields of contemporary dance and art
Maud Alpi, Gorge Couer Ventre (Still Life), 2016

Critic's Guide

Jonas Mekas to Maud Alpi to Lina Rodriguez to Júlio Bressane – highlights from the Swiss film festival
The Wonder Wheel, Coney Island, New York

Culture Digest

Coney Island and Silicon Valley
Alina Szapocznikow, Petit Dessert I (Small Dessert I), 1970-71, coloured polyester resin and glass, 8 x 11 x 13 cm. Courtesy: Broadway 1602, New York, and Galerie Gisela Capitain GmbH, Cologne © The Estate of Alina Szapocznikow/Piotr Stanisławski/ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2016; photograph: Thomas Mueller

Influences

From Shahmaran, Queen of Snakes, to Star Trek: First Contact: the London-based artist explains her favourite images

Feature

The first in a new five part series: the frieze editors select the most significant shows from the past 25 years

Culture Digest

From the Spiritualist origins of Ghostbusters to an interview with Luc Sante: what to read this weekend

Interview

To accompany frieze.com hosting his latest film for a limited period, London-based artist Steve Bishop gives an insight...
Stills from Gianfranco Rosi, Fuocoammare, 2016. 

Culture Digest

Gianfranco Rosi’s brilliant, difficult documentary addressing the migrant crisis
Manabu Miyazaki, Jay, Nagano (Japan), 2015, colour photograph © Manabu Miyazaki

Profile

A new exhibition at Fondation Cartier in Paris is dedicated to the work and ideas of legendary composer Bernie Krause

Review

Xippas, Paris, France

Influences

A cancelled seminar, a misprinted newspaper, and Invasion Day graffiti: the Australian artist shares her selection...
Hiroshi Sugimoto, from the ‘Theaters’ series, 1976–ongoing. Courtesy: © the artist

Critic's Guide

Highlights of the museum shows on now in the Spanish capital

On View

Latest Magazines

Frieze Week, New York, issue 2, 2016

Frieze Week

New York, 2016

frieze d/e

Summer 2016

frieze magazine

September 2016