Leave a comment

Sherrie Levine 谢丽·利文

Hong Kong Dominoes / David Zwirner / Hong Kong / Sep 4 – Oct 13, 2021 /

American artist Sherrie Levine’s recent exhibition Hong Kong Dominoes at David Zwirner in Hong Kong comprised six bodies of work that span three decades of the artist’s career.
Levine rose to prominence as a member of the Pictures Generation, a group of artists based in New York in the late 1970s and 80s. Originally trained as a printmaker, this has continued to influence her work, of which multiple images and mechanical reproduction form the foundation.

The artist chooses, reproduces and re-presents the works of dead white male artists as her own – works in the past have appropriated Walker Evans, Matisse, Brâncuși and Duchamp – undermining and calling into question concepts like authorship, originality and authenticity, and our fetishisation of these values and of certain works of art. Several works in the current exhibition make reference to modernist works.

Hong Kong Dominoes: 1-12 by Sherrie Levine, Twelve tempera on mahogany panels, each 50.8 × 40.6 cm, overall dimensions variable, 2017. © Sherrie Levine. Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner

In the group of 22 watercolour on paper drawings After Henri Matisse (1985), Levine recreates and presents a sequence of simple line portraits taken from Matisse’s later sketches. They look very much like the modern artist’s work. By appropriating the works of male artists and inserting herself as a re-creator of them, Levine also directs a critique at the ingrained patriarchal dominance in art history, subverting its authority.

Across two exhibition rooms hangs Monochromes After Renoir Nudes (2016), a series of paintings that look like Pantone colour swatches, with individual panels painted in a monochrome colour value: dusty pink, muted earth and olive green. This series, based on the female nude, a traditionally male subject, is an extreme abstraction or reduction of Renoir’s nudes to their simplest essence by using a chromatic computer algorithm to calculate each figure’s average colour, resulting in a monochrome panel. These nude paintings, once considered erotic, and still considered iconic, valuable, art fetish objects, in the commodity sense, have been reduced to nothing more than colour swatches.

On the facing wall hangs a series of eleven giclée inkjet prints, After Feininger: 1–11 (2021). This series of photographs by Bauhaus architect-turned-photographer Andreas Feininger were taken in the 1940s for Life magazine to document the post-war industrial landscape of the US. Again, stereotypically ‘male’ industrial or architectural sites are depicted – quarries, mines, factories – in the midst of otherwise beautiful, monumental natural surroundings. Industry scars and despoils the natural landscape.

Monochromes After Renoir Nudes: 1–4 by Sherrie Levine, Oil on mahogany in four parts,
71.1 × 274.3 cm, 2016. © Sherrie Levine. Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner.

On view for the first time is also the titular Hong Kong Dominoes: 1–12 (2017), a series of 12 identical paintings on mahogany replicating dominoes Levine purchased on a trip to Hong Kong in 2012. The dominoes are reduced to an abstract, highly graphic series of white and red dots on black painted mahogany panels. Hung in a row across two walls, like a row of dominoes, the panels are evocative of minimalist and abstract paintings from the 60s, the repeated image of a mass-produced consumer product reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s prints.

While the meaning of her reproduced works is founded in relation to the works or objects which are appropriated or replicated, Levine’s deconstruction and critical attacks on originality and ownership of ideas echo French postmodern theorist Roland Barthes’ concept of the death of the author, in which the reader or viewer plays a role in developing meaning. There is no singular narrative or interpretation.

It’s fitting that the central work and title of Levine’s show should be a game. Much like the Dadaists before her, it is difficult not to see Levine’s oeuvre as a game, playing with and subverting art tropes, and challenging our views of what art is.


利文最初作為「圖像一代」(Pictures Generation)的代表人物嶄露頭角,這是一群活躍於1970年代末至1980年代紐約的藝術家。利文起初學的是版畫,這也一直影響著她後來的創作,可以見得她的作品往往以多重圖像及機械複製為基礎。



首展作品《香港多米諾:1-12》(2017年)是一套12幅完全相同的紅木繪畫作品。畫面複刻了利⽂在 2012 年於香港旅行時購買的多米諾骨牌,它們變成了一系列抽象且高度清晰的紅白色圓點呈現在塗黑的紅木板上。這些作品橫向並排懸掛在兩面牆上,宛如一排多米諾骨牌,讓人想起1960年代的極簡抽象主義繪畫,而那些重複的關於批量生產的消費品的圖像則讓人聯想到安迪華荷的版畫。



Leave a Reply