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Thomas Kovachevich

Opening: Sunday, February 2, 6–8pm

February 2 – March 8, 2020

A gummed paper tape installation; 49 squares of tape are pinned at the center with a nail, and curling to create an alternating pattern

Thomas Kovachevich, 49 Squares, 2020. Gummed paper tape, 21 x 21 inches (53.3 x 53.3 cm)

A square painting on black corrugated plastic; a green botanical figure that looks like a sprig with leaves and other organic material surrounding it

Thomas Kovachevich, Sanctuary, 2017. Acrylic on black corrugated plastic, artist frame, 37 x 37 inches (94 x 94 cm).

A large vertical painting on black ground that look like organic matter in tones of green and pink

Thomas Kovachevich, O2, 2016–17. Acrylic on black corrugated plastic, artist frame, 77 x 48 inches (195.6 x 121.9 cm)

A vertical painting on black ground of a pink sprig that resembles a pistil with green, fan-like leaves near the bottom

Thomas Kovachevich, Pink/Green, 2016. Acrylic on black corrugated plastic, artist frame, 77 x 48 inches (195.6 x 121.9 cm)

A square painting on black ground of various organic and seemingly floral elements in tones of fuchsia and pink

Thomas Kovachevich, Fuchsia, 2016. Acrylic on black corrugated plastic, artist frame, 48 x 48 inches (122 x 122 cm)

A square painting on black ground that shows a single abstract swipe of pink paint surrounded by organic shapes in hues of green, blue, pink, white, and purple

Thomas Kovachevich, A Ride, 2016. Acrylic on black corrugated plastic, artist frame, 48 x 48 inches (122 x 122 cm)

Press Release

Callicoon Fine Arts is pleased to present Thomas Kovachevich’s fourth solo exhibition at the gallery. On-view alongside recent paintings on black corrugated plastic, there will be a paper installation.

Kovachevich’s employment of material, process, installation, and performance engages with a variety of post-minimalist tendencies while also acting as a preface to the more recent paintings on view in the gallery. The paintings, while appearing to be botanical depictions, are in fact works of fiction; they have evolved from his diverse and complex practice, as well as from his own thoughts and reflections on art, life, science, and nature that range from the mundane to the philosophical.

The painting O, for example, contains three teal strokes of paint that sprout red, off-white, and pink growths. Tufts of blue at the top of each form resemble sea anemones or flower petals. Tiny crosshatch marks on the form at left summon the underbelly of a centipede, while a foreshortened clump of organic-looking material at right evokes fuzzy pistils or mitochondria. Per Kovachevich, his painted subjects are abstract, graphic symbols that echo the visual forms of “folded proteins, dreams, desires, neurotransmitters, ribosomes, hallucinations, mitochondria, oxygen, chemistry, sodium transportation, sex, evaporation, and grocery shopping.”

This dialogue with the natural world originates from Kovachevich’s earliest experiments in the studio. Since the late 1960s, Kovachevich has been making installations from readily available gummed paper tape. The paper reacts to its immediate environment by expanding and contracting, revealing forces that are real but invisible to us. Each stripe of tape hints at the ecology of the room, illustrated by gradual transitions from flat rectangles to cylinders and back again. They acknowledge aspects of the architecture of the room, the light, together with the esthetics of the materials and their form.

For this exhibition, Kovachevich has created several tape installations—some formatted pictorially, while others fit the architecture of the gallery. The sculptural effects of these artworks are revealed over an elongated period of time, testing the limits of perception as they transform, indexing the invisible. 

The mutability of image, form, and material remains at the core of Kovachevich’s practice, supporting a link between past and present, subject and object, the visible and the invisible, stillness and motion, the rational and the irrational, the abstract and the represented.

Thomas Kovachevich (b. 1942, Detroit, MI) lives and works in New York City. He has had solo exhibitions at institutions including the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, IL (1973); The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (1991); Museum Baviera, Zurich (1996); and the Santa Monica Museum of Art, CA (2002), among others. Kovachevich participated in documenta 5 (1972), organized by Harald Szeemann, and the Eighth Biennale de Paris (1973). His work was featured in group exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1970); the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Illinois (1971, 1976, 1977, 1985, 1986, 1996); ExitArt, New York (1999); Guggenheim Public, Venice (2000); Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern (2008); COCO Kunstverein, Vienna (2011); Musee d’Art Contemporain de Marseille, France (2011); the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2013); and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Michigan (2017). His work is included in many notable collections including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; and the Bern Kunst Museum, Switzerland.

Callicoon Fine Arts is located at 49 Delancey Street between Forsyth and Eldridge Streets. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Sunday, 10:30am to 6:30pm. The nearest subway stops are the B and D trains at Grand Street and the F, J, M and Z trains at Delancey-Essex Street. Contact: Photi Giovanis,, 212-219-0326 for further information.

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