Sculptures by Renowned Spanish Artist Jaume Plensa Shown in Nashville
Jaume Plensa: Human Landscape Is Artist’s Most Comprehensive North American Exhibition to Date
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (March 18, 2015)—Sculptures by internationally renowned Spanish artist Jaume Plensa will be on view concurrently at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts from June 5 to September 7, 2015, and at Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art from May 22 to November 1, 2015. Seen together, the indoor and outdoor installations exemplify the range of Plensa’s work, which reflects timeless philosophical queries.
Jointly organized by Cheekwood and the Frist Center, Jaume Plensa: Human Landscape is a cross-city celebration of the preeminent sculptor’s oeuvre. “We are so pleased to partner with Cheekwood in bringing this exhibition to Nashville. The work is going to be extraordinary within its garden setting,” says Frist Center Chief Curator Mark Scala. “Plensa has earned an international following among curators, critics and art lovers. He has also earned acclaim with the wider public, which has responded enthusiastically to work that is both beautiful and poetic, reflecting humanity’s physical existence, psychology, and spirituality in ways we can all feel connected to.” In addition to the three large-scale works shown indoors in the Frist Center’s Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery, Plensa’s Isabella (2014), a monumental head, will be on view outside the Center’s Demonbreun Street entrance until October 2016, and will mirror a “sister” cast-iron sculpture sited at Cheekwood.
Jaume Plensa: Human Landscape marks the first time the artist’s work has been seen in such depth since his 2010 exhibition at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas. Plensa’s works in the U.S. include Crown Fountain in Chicago’s Millennium Park, and Echo, formerly on view in Madison Square Park in New York.
Plensa works with steel, bronze, alabaster and synthetic resin, but the artist expresses a desire for his viewers to look beyond the materials, stating, “When for some reason you understand that life is not a physical problem and that physical material is hiding something essential, you must talk about spirituality.” Many of Plensa’s sculptures examine dualities and paradoxes, such as the coexistence of the sacred and the worldly. Viewed from the front, Isabella (2014) appears as a detached Buddha-like deity with eyes shut as if asleep.
Yet from a side perspective, the viewer sees a flattened, angular head, positioned upright to suggest an awakened being in whom classical beauty merges with the sense of human malleability.
In Laura II, the illusion of perfection is offset with a reminder of the ravages of time as the top of a young girl’s head appears to have been forcefully sheared off. The three-part installation See no Evil, Hear no Evil, Speak no Evil (2010) is composed of internally illuminated figures that are posed in distressed positions, covering their eyes, ears and mouth respectively. Again Plensa juxtaposes detachment and consciousness. “The parable is concerned with the double-edgedness of shutting oneself off from the world,” says Mr. Scala. “It corrupts but also holds great beauty and meaning, which cannot be fully known without our senses.”
The suspended ovoid forms of Talking Continents (2014) are composed of letters from international alphabets such as Arabic, Chinese, and Hebrew, representing “graphic symbols of the universal need to communicate,” says Mr. Scala. “Like all of Plensa’s works, they transcend boundaries of language, tradition, and experience, operating on many levels at once, but in the end, celebrating the timeless power of beauty and love.”
The selection of works at Cheekwood will span the historic estate’s grounds, gardens, and museum galleries and will feature nine large-scale outdoor sculptures, indoor installations and sculptures, and a selection of works on paper. As part of the Cheekwood exhibition, Plensa will create new works, including a double sculpture entitled Soul of Words, which will be sited on the prominent color garden lawn. After closing in Nashville, Jaume Plensa: Human Landscape will travel nationally to two or three additional venues, including the Toledo Museum of Art in Toledo, Ohio (June 17–November 6, 2016).
In 2010, the Frist Center and Cheekwood collaborated to present works by Dale Chihuly, creating another crosstown art experience for the Nashville community.
About the Artist
Jaume Plensa was born in 1955 in Barcelona, Spain, where he continues to have a residence and studio. He has exhibited his work in museums and public sites around the world and has received many awards, including the Medaille de Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, awarded by the French Ministry of Culture (1993); the Government of Catalonia’s National Prize for Fine Art (1997); the National Prize for Fine Arts in Spain (2012); and the Velázquez Prize for the Arts (2013). Plensa is represented by Galerie Lelong, New York and Paris, and the Richard Gray Gallery, Chicago.
Jaume Plensa: Human Landscape is jointly organized by the Frist Center for the Visual Arts (June 5–September 7, 2015) and Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art (May 22–November 1, 2015). In conjunction with the exhibition, Plensa’s Isabella (2014), a monumental head, is on view at the Demonbreun Street entrance to the Frist Center until October 2016.
The exhibition Jaume Plensa: Human Landscape will be accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with a lead essay by Patricia Phillips, dean of graduate studies and research at Rhode Island School of Design. Phillips is a noted scholar in the field of contemporary outdoor sculpture, the history of sculpture parks and landscape design. The catalogue is published by Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art in partnership with the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, including contributions by their respective directors and chief curators as well as an interview with Jaume Plensa.
The Frist Center for the Visual Arts is supported in part by the Metro Nashville Arts Commission, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Public ProgramsThursday, July 16
Frist Center Auditorium
Gallery admission required; members free
First come, first seated
Curators’ Perspectives: Jaume Plensa: Human Landscape Presented by Mark Scala, chief curator, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, and Jochen Wierich, chief curator, Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art
Jaume Plensa: Human Landscape, the most comprehensive exhibition of this internationally acclaimed artist’s work in North America to date, was jointly organized by the Frist Center for the Visual Arts (June 5–September 7) and Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art (May 22–November 1). Curators Mark Scala and Jochen Wierich will have a wide-ranging conversation on the works, processes, and visionary ideas of the Spanish artist.
About the Frist Center
Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit art exhibition center dedicated to presenting and originating high-quality exhibitions with related educational programs and community outreach activities. Located at 919 Broadway in downtown Nashville, Tenn., the Frist Center offers the finest visual art from local, regional, national, and international sources in a program of changing exhibitions that inspire people through art to look at their world in new ways. The Frist Center’s Martin ArtQuest Gallery features interactive stations relating to Frist Center exhibitions. Information on accessibility may be found at fristcenter.org/accessibility. Gallery admission is free for visitors 18 and younger and to members; $12 for adults; $9 for seniors and college students with ID; and $7 for active military. College students are admitted free Thursday and Friday evenings (with the exception of Frist Fridays), 5:00–9:00 p.m. Discounts are offered for groups of 10 or more with advance reservation by calling 615.744.3247. The galleries, Café, and Gift Shop are open seven days a week: Mondays through Wednesdays, and Saturdays, 10:00 a.m.–5:30 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays, 10:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m.; and Sundays, 1:00–5:30 p.m., with the Café opening at noon. Additional information is available by calling 615.244.3340 or by visiting fristcenter.org.