How relaxing not to have anything at all
To be relaxed about!
—Álvaro de Campos
Gagosian is pleased to present On the Eve of Never Leaving, new drawings and sculptures by Tatiana Trouvé. This is her first exhibition in Los Angeles.
In her large-scale drawings, cast and carved sculptures, and site-specific installations, Trouvé assesses the relationship between memory and material, pitting the ceaseless flow of time against the remarkable endurance of common objects. Combining fragments from both natural and constructed ecosystems, she creates hauntingly familiar realms in which forest, street, studio, and dream coalesce.
“On the Eve of Never Leaving” is a translation of “Na Véspera de Não Partir Nunca,” the title of a poem by Álvaro de Campos, one of the many heteronyms of the Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa (1888–1935). De Campos’s deeply melancholic writings often deal with notions of time and nothingness; they are hymns to the existential void. Trouvé—attuned to the ways in which journeys, physical and spiritual, can circle back on themselves—visually collapses past and future, echoing Pessoa’s linguistic paradoxes in uncanny material form.
The exhibition includes new drawings from two related series—Les dessouvenus (2013–) and The Great Atlas of Disorientation (2019–)—installed in a metal armature that itself functions as a linear drawing through space. To make Les dessouvenus, Trouvé first plunges large sheets of colored paper into bleach, then allows the unpredictable, even caustic, boundaries of each stain to provide a loose structure for complex “environmental dramas” that she draws in pencil. In The Great Atlas of Disorientation, she uses watercolor to recreate the bleached effects in Les dessouvenus, which variously recall smoke, halos, ghosts, or mushroom clouds. The slight differences between the real and contrived stains cause Trouvé’s responsive drawings to take off in new directions, as she pulls from a wide range of sources including her personal archive of tree photographs, vintage x-rays, her own previous sculptures, and works by artists she admires, such as American sculptor Beverly Buchanan. The Great Atlas of Disorientation series thus underscores the impossibility of replicating a succession of chance events.
The revelatory power of the tree is examined further in The Shaman (2018), a life-size bronze cast of an oak, partially submerged in a pool of water beneath a ruptured concrete floor. Water trickles from the muddied tangle of roots and a limp stack of patterned cushions, carved in marble, granite, and onyx, sits in the pooling water, raising questions about the causes and consequences of this tectonic disruption. For Trouvé, the shaman is an expert in disorientation, seamlessly traveling through space and time, shifting between species and languages, and—like Pessoa—possessing multiple identities. Trouvé’s sculpture also inhabits many worlds at once, poised at the threshold between decay and new life, growth and debris. In the corner nearby, a small cast-bronze transistor radio sits beside a manhole cover. These objects, though benign, are portals to unseen worlds—the sewers and the airwaves, here and elsewhere.