Gareth Long   Never Odd Or Even

November 19, 2011 - January 8, 2012

Never Odd Or Even
presents two recent bodies of work by New York-based artist Gareth Long. Untitled (Stories) is a set of lenticular prints accompanied by the book series Books (Untitled) that pivots around a disjunction between the oeuvre of the late American author J.D. Salinger and the design of his books. The unfinished novel, Bouvard et Pécuchet (1880) by Gustave Flaubert is the central point around which the other works in the exhibition revolve. Bouvard and Pécuchet’s Invented Desk for Copying, a suite of two-sided desk-sculptures form the core of these, alongside a suite of related projects.

Presented for the first time as a complete series, Untitled (Stories) uses the Little, Brown & Co. book cover designs of the four published Salinger books as a starting point for nine large-scale lenticular prints. Featuring a diagonal rainbow, the iconic design is reminiscent of the stripe motif that was ubiquitous in Modernist painting and has become synonymous with the author's work. The design was, however, first used in 1991, long after the books' initial publication, and Long’s interest lies in a disjunction between its after-the-fact modernist aesthetic and the post-modern tendencies of Salinger’s style as a writer.

Untitled (Stories) plays on this disjunction, amplifying and distorting the design. Lenticular technology uses small lenses to give images the illusion of depth and movement. Overturning Modernism's call for autonomy and purity of form, the work relies on the viewer's physical movements for its activation, and shifts between media, suggesting, but never conforming to sculpture, painting and the moving image. Modified versions of the original Little, Brown & Co published books are presented alongside the prints. 

In Bouvard and Pécuchet’s Invented Desk for Copying, Long takes as his inspiration Flaubert's story of two copy clerks that use an inheritance to increase their knowledge and make their mark in the world. Each of their endeavours fail, and eventually they give up altogether and the novel ends with their preparations to build a two-seated desk on which to resume their original occupations as copyists. The artist’s work picks up where the story ends with the construction of a series of two-seated desk-sculptures. Emphasizing the uniqueness of each iteration and working with a different fabricator for each work, he invites a level of collaboration, allowing others to interpret or modify his design.

The exhibition also features material that is both ancillary to Bouvard and Pécuchet’s Invented Desks for Copying and artworks in their own right. This includes construction diagrams, a maquette, drawings, and books, including Long and Toronto-based artist Derek Sullivan's ongoing The Illustrated Dictionary of Received Ideas, a series of publications featuring the artists' illustration of entries from Flaubert's satirical encyclopaedia of platitudes, The Dictionary of Received Ideas, a text that was intended to feature in the second half of Bouvard et Pécuchet.

At the heart of both works lies a fascination with books as uniquely flexible vehicles of meaning, as complex compendia to be read, re-read and mis-read.

Gareth Long was born in Toronto, Canada. He holds a BA in Visual Studies and Classical Civilizations from the University of Toronto and an MFA from Yale University. Long has held solo exhibitions at Oakville Galleries, Toronto; Leo Kamen Gallery, Toronto, Kate Werble Gallery, New York; and TORRI, Paris. His work has been shown at the Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe; the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal; Montreal; Mercer Union Centre for Contemporary Art, Toronto; Flat Time House, London; Wiels, Brussels; Artists Space, New York; Casey Kaplan Gallery, New York; and MoMA PS1, New York. In 2011 his work will be shown in a number of exhibitions, including ones at Eastside Projects in Birmingham, UK. Long is represented by Kate Werble Gallery in New York, and TORRI in Paris.

Special thanks to: Ellison Annett, Megan Farebrother, Myles Havinga, Kyle Hickey, Derrick Hoekstra, Christina Olson, Adrienne Penny, Jenn Seniuk, Allison Spencer for their collaboration on Bouvard and Pécuchet’s Invented Desk for Copying.


« Back to Exhibition Archives