September 4, 2023

Sarah Sze

One cold weekday afternoon in 2012, I went to a show at the Asia Society for an artist called Sarah Sze. I had the gallery entirely to myself, and as the afternoon passed, I had the sense I was convening with something truly special. I felt awe and wonder at the intricacy of her pieces, at how spontaneous, yet carefully-constructed everything felt.
I found myself thinking a lot about her and her work after leaving the gallery, especially because I wasn't accustomed to hearing of American artists that were Asian and women. I wasn't sure if this was because of a hostile industry, or because of Asian-American cultural norms; either way, I certainly felt Sarah Sze was defying various expectations by not only existing, but thriving in the field, and also by producing such thrilling work.

A year and a half later, I was at the Venice Biennale and was pleasantly surprised to discover that Sarah Sze was the artist representing the U.S. at the show. Here are some pictures I took of her work at the U.S. pavilion in 2013:

Fast-forward to this year, when my dear, dear friend Simon got to work with Sze on a book about her painting practice. Knowing how much I love her work, he gifted me what has now become one of my most treasured objects, Sarah Sze: Paintings

Which prepped me wonderfully to take in her exhibit that is currently showing at the Guggenheim (though not for much longer! It closes September 10): Sarah Sze: Timelapse.
It really has to be seen to be believed, but it is an all-encompassing, expansive exhibit, with shocks of intimacy like ripped-off pieces of NYC parking tickets, pictures of the artist's daughter sleeping, and painstakingly-arranged dabs of paint. Seeing these pieces is to experience an explosive three-dimensionality expressed in only two. In general, I get very distracted by people, but in her hands, time and space would somehow slip away and make way for an intense immediacy that made me forget I was in a loud, crowded gallery. My love for Sarah Sze's work persists.

one of my favorite details that I spotted: Muybridge's horse galloping across the middle

In Timelapse's information panel, Sarah Sze describes Timelapse as intended to feel like a planetarium. And it absolutely felt magical, quiet, and reverent in the way that planeteriums inspire.