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  • Overview

    'Outside of the art realm, I’m interested in image-making technologies along with innovations in tech that change the way we see and have experiences, popular media culture, and so forth.' —Avery SingerAvery Singer is a painter for the digital age. Carrying out the artistic act without a paintbrush, she instead refers to a nifty repertoire of computerised tools, including software programmes designed for video games and architecture, to generate unique, abstract images. ‘I am not really interested in using paint brushes, and never have been’, she once said, ‘so I guess I am trying to figure out how to make a painting without that methodology’.1 Devising a landscape of blue, laser-like lines crossing over an entirely black ground, Untitled is a mesmerising example of her practice. At the composition's centre, an amorphous shape emerges, what appears like strands of hair towards the upper extremity elucidating it as a human or animalistic form. Singer concocted this robot-like portrait through her idiosyncratic digital process, before airbrushing the resulting image onto canvas. In this way, she melds tradition with nowness, infusing an age-old medium with freshness and relevance. In 2020, Singer completed a large, panoramic fresco for the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, and signed with Hauser & Wirth, making her the youngest painter to be represented by the supergallery. This consolidated success came naturally, after a string of other exceptionally precocious feats: Singer’s solo exhibitions at various prestigious institutions, including the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Vienna’s Secession and the Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

     

    An Evident Path

     

    Singer cannot exactly remember when she encountered art for the first time. Creation came hand in hand with the story of her life, she recognised, as her parents were both artists and projectionists. ‘I didn’t have my own room’, she said. ‘Instead I had a loft bed that overlooked my mom’s painting studio. We didn’t have air conditioning for a long time, so I remember hot summer nights with all the ceiling fans turned on both to cool us off and to dry the paint’.2 Enveloping her since birth more so than manifesting at a later age, art was for Singer an evident path. Prior to realising she wished to commit herself to painting and the artistic realm, however, Singer admits having wanted to become a mathematician or a computer scientist. As a result, she engrained this preceding wish within her artistic practice, weaving formulaic abstraction and digital possibilities within the very fabric of her paintings. ‘Outside of the art realm, I’m interested in image-making technologies’, she confessed, ‘along with innovations in tech that change the way we see and have experiences, popular media culture, and so forth’.3 With works such as Untitled, Singer confronts the viewer with a history of painterly craft, whilst at the same time quoting their day-to-day reality, moving the audience’s eyes away from screens and onto a screen-generated image.

    'I simply stopped thinking about colour, which strangely resulted in my beginning to use it. I got into it and after a while became aware of it. I like that it was an unconscious decision on my part. You let the painting itself dictate its own direction, instead of pre-planning and executing an idea like a conceptual artist.'
    —Avery Singer

    Abstraction and Colour

     

    Speaking of her move to colour, evolving from the idiosyncratic use of grisaille that had defined her earlier work, Singer said, ‘I simply stopped thinking about colour, which strangely resulted in my beginning to use it. I got into it and after a while became aware of it. I like that it was an unconscious decision on my part. You let the painting itself dictate its own direction, instead of pre-planning and executing an idea like a conceptual artist’.  With its black and blue meanderings, Untitled evokes Peter Schuyff's vibrant compositions, similarly suggesting flows of movement. At the same time, one is reminded of Albert Oehlen’s Computer Paintings, which set the foundation for future attempts at digitising the painterly medium.

     

    Albert Oehlen, U.D.O.4, 2001-2005, ink and oil on canvas, Galeria Juana De Aizpuru, Madrid. Image: Scala, Florence.

    Weaving References

     

    Interestingly, Singer’s multifarious practice takes inspiration from other arts, just as much as it does painting. If not more. ‘Many of her works incorporate cinematic visual styling, where depictions of pictorial space follow the logic of the lens of the camera’, writes an author at e-flux. ‘The sense of banality mixed with sarcasm that we detect in her work is aimed at examining the tensions arising from reductivist tropes of how artists are thought to exist and produce meaning in contemporaneity’.5 Further exploring Singer’s references throughout her work, Stedelijk Museum’s Director Beatrix Ruf states: ‘Avery’s work disrupts what we expect to see—as a medium, it’s hard to classify. Her work questions how the digital information that surrounds us comes into being’.6

     

    Singer in Action

     

     

    1 Avery Singer, quoted in Kat Herriman, ‘Avery Singer: Young Artists 2018’, Cultured Mag, 2018, online.
    2 Avery Singer, quoted in Nicolas Trembley, ‘Interview with Avery Singer’, Numero Magazine, 17 April 2020, online.
    3 Avery Singer, quoted in Nicolas Trembley, ‘Interview with Avery Singer’, Numero Magazine, 17 April 2020, online.
    4 Avery Singer, quoted in Nicolas Trembley, ‘Interview with Avery Singer’, Numero Magazine, 17 April 2020, online.
    5 ‘Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam - Avery Singer: Scenes', e-flux, 23 April 2016, online.
    6 Beatrix Ruf, quoted in ‘Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam - Avery Singer: Scenes', e-flux, 23 April 2016, online.

    • Provenance

      Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Berlin
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Literature

      Massimiliano Gioni and Cecilia Alemani, eds., The Trick Brain, Milan, 2017, pp. 381, 501 (illustrated, p. 381)

Property from a Prominent Private Collection

4

Untitled

signed and dated 'AVERY SINGER 2016' on the overlap
acrylic on canvas
101.6 x 121.9 cm (40 x 48 in.)
Painted in 2016.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
£150,000 - 200,000 

Sold for £466,200

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Rosanna Widén
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20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 15 April 2021