For Miart 2024, Renata Fabbri is pleased to present Before Night Falls, a solo stand project by Sophie Ko (1981, Tbilisi, Georgia). Exhibited for the first time on the occasion of the artist’s third solo exhibition hosted at the gallery, the project brings together a series of recent Temporal geographies, sculptural works, and site-specific interventions. Reimagined for the spaces of the fair, the selected works explore the concept of time in its relationship with matter and, in particular, the idea of transience and resistance intrinsic to this bond.

Realized through layers of pure pigments, burnt materials, and powders contained within large geometric frames, the Temporal geographies present themselves as drawings of time settled in a place, spatial images of the dialectical relationship that we entertain with time. An essential component of this series of works is the force of gravity, which acts on and with the material of the painting, leading the pigment to fall, making it crumble and thus generating on the surface collapses and fractures destined to change the composition of the painting. These imperceptible but inevitable falls spread slowly over the surface, drawing “slopes” and “geographies” as tangible traces of the passing of time. Like an hourglass where sand slowly runs from the upper vessel into the lower one, accumulating at the bottom, the Temporal geographies reveal the inexorable and irreversible nature of time and, simultaneously, the shaping of existence as it flows, in its relationship with natural forces. They recreate the relationship between time and image: a relationship “made of weight, pressure, gravity, and destruction of images at the hands of time, but also of evolution, depth, return, and rebirth in relation to the grind of time.”

On the occasion of the fair, Sophie Ko presents some recent Temporal geographies that, resembling fragments of a celestial body, freely punctuate the walls of the stand. Their irregular shape evokes the image of an exploding star, but also that of a heavenly body during its formation: the birth of a star and, conversely, the end of its life cycle. On the ground, in dialogue with them, we find a group of bronze sculptures, created by pairing leaves to pieces of bark, thus transforming the former into sails and the latter into hulls of imaginary vessels. These boats are the result of a primordial and timeless gesture, like a child’s play, in which one recognizes the human essence of the artistic act: the ability to discover the world by transforming it, giving spiritual form to material.

Crowning the project is an engraved and gilded inscription on the wall, Voleva che il ruscello fosse un fiume, il fiume un torrente e questa pozzanghera il mare [He wanted the brook to be a river, the river a torrent, and this puddle the sea]. This is a verse from Peter Handke’s famous Song of Childhood. Through the poet’s words, Sophie Ko transfigures into images/words the childlike wonder before the relationship between time and imagination, a question that echoes within each of us, from childhood throughout our lives.

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