10 March – 3 June 2018
Lee Lozano was a major figure in the New York art scene of the 1960s and early 1970s. After studying painting at the Art Institute of Chicago, she moved to New York in 1960 and swiftly became known for her expressive, suggestive, and often transgressive paintings and drawings. Over the decade, her practice developed and changed, and she made ever-larger and progressively more abstracted paintings of tools before embracing abstraction completely. She was a pioneer of conceptual art, and in the late 1960s began keeping notebooks full of ideas and notes-to-self (‘I have started to document everything because I cannot give up my love of ideas’). These notes became artworks in their own right – language pieces in the form of instructions that she carried out then wrote up in works she thought of as drawings and exhibited under the title Infofiction in 1971. In 1969 she began her General Strike Piece, in which she ceased participating in public art events; in 1971 she stopped talking to women; and in 1972 Dropout Piece caused her to leave New York and withdraw entirely from the artworld. She died in 1999 without returning to public life or making art in any form other than writings and telephone conversations. Her last work was Questionnaire, with jokes, concerning purchases and purchasers of my art, mailed to her gallerists in 1998.
Lozano’s radical approach to art and life, in particular her systematic refusal to engage with the institutions and support structures of the artworld, led to her work being neglected and becoming much less well known over time. Recently, this has begun to change, and we are proud to make this first exhibition of her work in Scotland, which brings together paintings, drawings, language pieces and notes on making paintings that have only just come to light. Tiny, furiously inventive paintings from 1962 and are shown alongside a selection of irreverent, metamorphic drawings from the same time. Four vast paintings – No title (1964), Cram, Clamp (both 1965) and Lean (1966) are contextualised both by related drawings and previously unseen notes and instructions. The Infofictions complete the exhibition, drawing visitors into the world of Lozano’s innovative and uncompromising artistic imagination; the world of a supremely talented painter who in the end prioritised thinking over doing: ‘I’d just as soon live in a world of ideas; I find I’m more and more interested in mental energy as opposed to real matter’ (Lozano, 16/7/71).