New work by James Welling (Art BFA 72, MFA 74) is on display at S.M.A.K., the Museum of Contemporary Art, in Ghent, Belgium from Jan. 28 through April 16.
The exhibition, titled Metamorphosis, is a broad collection of the artist’s photography that spans the last 40 years. It gives the viewer a comprehensive look at how Welling’s work has evolved over time and how his interests have shifted from documenting sculptural or architectural elements to figurative subjects like dancers, then to entirely abstract compositions.
According to the museum’s website, Welling’s exhibition also “reflects the fundamental changes in photography in recent decades. In sounding out the medium’s aesthetic and conceptual foundations, the artist’s series spring continually from image to matter, from process to result, from representation to abstraction and back again.”
Welling developed his post-modern aesthetic while studying at CalArts in the 70s under the mentorship of artist John Baldessari. Prior to transferring to CalArts, Welling studied at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he was introduced to artists such as Henri Matisse, Paul Klee and Mark Rothko. At CalArts he focused on film and video, but after graduating, transitioned to photography, continuing to experiment throughout his career with new exposure processes, color compositions and a range of subjects.
His current exhibition is both conceptual and personal, with much of the work drawing from the artist’s own history as inspiration. E-flux.com says of Metamorphosis:
Emotional states such as melancholy and nostalgia are distinctly present in the work of this artist, who often interweaves biographical elements with the history of photography. Welling’s photographic practice is comparable with that of a ‘ventriloquist’, as he himself once described it, meaning that he embraces many artistic languages through the filter of photography.
The exhibition is a cooperation of S.M.A.K., Ghent with Kunstforum Vienna, Austria and is curated by Martin Germann and Heike Eipeldauer.
James Welling: Metamorphosis
Jan. 28 through April 16
S.M.A.K., the Museum of Contemporary Art
Jan Hoetplein 1, 9000 Gent