The Arch within the Arc

Museo di Palazzo Grimani, together with the Veneto Regional Directorate for Museums of which it is a part, is pleased to present The Arch within the Arc, an exhibition of new paintings by Rick Lowe and his first solo show in Italy. Inspired by the historic architecture of the Palazzo – a rare example of Tuscan-Roman Renaissance architecture in Venice and a place where classical and contemporary art are uniquely united – and the urban dynamics of Venice, this body of work emerged from Lowe’s consideration of the arch in architecture. The exhibition opens on April 17, immediately prior to the commencement of the 60th Biennale di Venezia.
Composed with acrylic paint and paper collage on canvas, the vibrant works on view balance geometric motifs and improvisational techniques. Lowe was inspired by the Palazzo Grimani’s Tribuna and its other celebrated spaces, which prompted him to reflect on the visual influence of ancient and premodern architecture. “I started to consider the arc,” he notes, “which is relevant to the arch as well as the existence of all things in time. Everything has a life cycle and within every cycle is an arc.”
Radiating outward and turning in on themselves, these works were produced via a process of painterly construction and deconstruction that evokes infrastructure, mapping, and the experience of moving through the city and across its waters. Lowe arranges rectangular compositional units in meandering linear networks inspired by games of dominoes that he plays with individuals in the communities where he works. Lowe is inspired by the game’s collaborative nature and the patterns it generates, which have visual correspondences with aerial views and city maps. The paintings meditate on spatial, temporal, and social relationships, in keeping with the artist’s interest in linking civic practice and visual expression.
Realized in brilliant warm tones, Untitled (2023) evokes the geometry of an architectural dome, its concentric circles organized by a radial symmetry enlivened by glyphic brushstrokes. Diplopia (2023), the exhibition’s largest work, is composed across two conjoined canvases that operate in parallel to produce a sense of “double vision” suggested by its title. Made up of linear units in a palette dominated by shades of red and orange, with blocks in other primary and secondary colors, the imbricated shapes overlap to form complex patterns of arcs that sweep across its surface.
For the works in The Arch within the Arc, Lowe was inspired by the past and present of Venice’s unique metropolitan fabric. Without directly representing specific sites, these works are imbued with the spirit of the city and its unique cartography, their abstract shapes channeling relationships between its streets, canals, and bridges. They evoke the experience of getting lost in unfamiliar territory. Lowe’s circles, ovals, and arcs also suggest the passage of time, from the arcs of experience that chart individual lives to the architectural history embodied by buildings and their interrelationships.
Rick Lowe was born in 1961 in rural Russell County, Alabama, and lives and works in Houston. Collections include the Brooklyn Museum, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, Kansas; Menil Collection, Houston; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Tate, London; and the UBS Art Collection. Solo exhibitions include Art League Houston (2020–21); Notes on the Great Migration, Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society, University of Chicago (2022–23); and Hic sunt dracones (Here Lay Dragons) Mapping the Unknown, Benaki Museum / Pireos 138, Athens (2023). He also participated in Documenta 14, Athens (2017). Among Lowe’s numerous community art projects are Project Row Houses, Houston (1993–2018); Watts House Project, Los Angeles (1996–2012); Borough Project (with Suzanne Lacy and Mary Jane Jacob), Charleston, South Carolina (2003); Small Business/Big Change, Anyang Public Art Program, Korea (2010); Trans.lation: Vickery Meadow, Dallas (2013); Victoria Square Project, Athens (2017–18); Greenwood Art Project, Tulsa, Oklahoma (2018–21); and Black Wall Street Journey, Chicago (2021–). In 2013 President Barack Obama appointed Lowe to the National Council on the Arts, and in 2014 he was named a MacArthur Fellow. Lowe is currently a professorof interdisciplinary practice at the University of Houston and will be a Resident at the American Academy in Rome, 2025–26.
Wednesday, April 17, 2024 to Sunday, November 24, 2024
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Paid admission