Margarita Gluzberg: Proper Time
Karsten Schubert London presents Proper Time, an exhibition of new work by Margarita Gluzberg. Taking the form of a series of large-scale drawings, the works feature spheres rendered in pastel and coloured pencil that seem to sit lightly upon the raw canvas ground; yet this ethereal appearance belies the long labour and physical effort of their making.
Each drawing takes up to several months to complete, with Gluzberg working across multiple drawings at a time. Within the graphite borders of a circle, she builds up colour in layers, pressing the pastel into the surface so that, gradually, volume and density emerge – an almost sculptural process. The artist describes her approach as an ‘attempt to create an autonomous space’ within these simple geometric forms; in so doing, the works attain a multidimensionality in which the fine line between flatness and volume – ‘a metaphysical proposition’ – is played out.
The interweaving of past and present, and the time of production and memory, are ongoing features of Gluzberg’s work. This is seen in her 2019 ‘cinema experiments’ series, in which she translated Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Stalker (1979) into drawings, as well as her installation-performance The Captive Bird Society (2009–), which reanimates birdsong recorded in the 1910s for gramophone. In both, the result is charged, layered images that demonstrate the physical act of drawing while expressing the cinematic or aural arrangement of time. Gluzberg’s latest drawings extend this interest by using vintage pastels and pencils, including a highly pigmented American set from the 1960s, subdued sticks from 1970s Poland, and the artist’s own childhood assortment. The artist conceives of this method as a kind of time-travel: individual colour choices are made intuitively, but alongside the arbitrary nature of what is available within her vintage sets.
In these works, the space around the sphere always remains blank, like a sheet of paper or a page in a book. The process of making involves a continuous desire to seek out the perfect spatial balance. Over time, each sphere comes into its own, holding itself in space through unpredictable blends of colour. Within their bounds, however, no space is left blank. Gluzberg thinks of these spheres as ‘chambers’ or ‘moments of intensity’. Emerging from flatness to dimensionality, from emptiness to density, these are drawings that contemplate reality not only via their visual formal aspects but in the temporality of their making. They also meditate on the nature of the medium itself. As writer Tom McCarthy observed of Gluzberg’s past works in Bomb magazine, they explore ‘the act of making marks on paper … like a meta-commentary on drawing’. In Proper Time, Gluzberg continues to probe ‘the sense of what a line is’, in an expansive inquiry into representation and the negotiation of reality.
Margarita Gluzberg: Proper Time is accompanied by an exhibition booklet with an essay by Federico Campagna.