Presenting a Magical Array of Global Alphabet Figures by an Internationally Celebrated Artist
SAVANNAH, GA. (January 14, 2019) Telfair Museums’ Jepson Center is pleased to present a solo exhibition of work by the internationally celebrated artist Jaume Plensa (Spanish, b. 1955) [pronounced ZHOW-ma] titled Talking Continents. Jaume Plensa: Talking Continents opens to the public on Friday, March 1, and will be on view through June 9.
One of the world’s foremost living sculptors, Plensa is widely known for both his large-scale public artworks, and his intimate and meditative installations that aim to unify individuals through connections of spirituality, the body, and collective memory. Jaume Plensa: Talking Continents is an enveloping installation comprising 19 cloud-like, stainless steel sculptures. Suspended in the gallery to create a floating archipelago of cloud-like shapes, the elements appear to transcend their own physical weight and volume, conveying lightness, translucence, and fluidity. Their biomorphic forms are made of die-cut letters taken from eight different alphabets. Presented together, they refuse to form legible words, existing instead as abstract forms, arbitrary signs, and signifiers. A firm believer that art has the capacity to transform our lives, Plensa has stated that Talking Continents represents the concept of globalism without judgement.
Metaphorically imagined as islands, countries, or continents, the multi-lingual sculptures speak to the diversity of language and culture, while simultaneously suggesting that global interconnectedness can be a path to tolerance and acceptance. Rachel Reese, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, states “Talking Continents imagines our five most populated continents in conversation with one another through a universal language that speaks to our shared humanity and what we have in common rather than forms of nationalism that seek to divide us.”
In addition to Talking Continents, Telfair Museums presents a gallery spotlighting Plensa’s stone sculpture and drawings that explore perspective and illusion through the flattening of form. Standing six feet tall, the alabaster sculpture Laura II (2013) emerges from stone as Plensa keeps sections of the material in its natural, unfinished state, and the work shifts from realism to flattened relief depending on the viewing angle. In the selected Slumberland portraits, the subjects have their eyes closed—Plensa’s conceptual metaphor for dreaming. Installed as a group, imposing yet peaceful, the works create a meditative, spiritual space.
Visitors are encouraged to tap into the artist’s notion of universal understanding by thinking about the ways in which we are linked together as a collective humanity. Reese adds that “the unique arrangement of these installations invites you to literally walk among the floating shapes as you reflect on your experience as an individual within a global context.”
About the artist:
Jaume Plensa was born in Barcelona, Spain in 1955, where he currently lives and works. Plensa’s large-scale works are installed in public spaces and sculpture gardens worldwide, from Chicago’s Millennium Park to Japan’s Ogijima Island. The artist has presented solo exhibitions at institutions around the globe including the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Wisconsin; Musée d’art moderne et contemporain de Saint-Étienne Métropole, Saint-Étienne, France; the Institut Valencia d’Art Moderne, Spain; Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, Texas; Musée Picasso, France; and Max Ernst Museum, Germany, among many others. Jaume Plensa: Human Landscape, the most comprehensive exhibition of Plensa’s work in the United States, was jointly organized in 2015 by the Frist Center for the Visual Arts and Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art and traveled to the Tampa Museum of Art and Toledo Museum of Art.
Sunday Curator’s Talk
Sunday, May 19, 3pm / Jepson Center
With Rachel Reese, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art
Jaume Plensa: Talking Continents is organized by the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art in Madison, WI. The presentation of this exhibition at Telfair Museums is curated by Rachel Reese, Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. A fully-illustrated exhibition catalogue accompanies the exhibition.
Generous funding for Jaume Plensa: Talking Continents has been provided by the David and Paula Kraemer Fund; Ellen Rosner and Paul J. Reckwerdt; Mary Ellyn and Joe Sensenbrenner; Peggy and Tom Pyle; Gina and Michael Carter; National Guardian Life Insurance; Lynda and Charles Clark; Dynee and Barney Sheafor; Sara Guyer and Scott Straus; Karen and Craig Christianson; RSM; Wisconsin Public Radio; a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts; and MMoCA Volunteers.
Investment provided by the City of Savannah.
About Telfair Museums:
Opened in 1886, Telfair Museums is the oldest public art museum in the South and features a world-class art collection in the heart of Savannah’s National Historic Landmark District. The museum encompasses three sites: the Jepson Center, the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters, and the Telfair Academy. 2019 marks the 200th anniversary of both the Telfair Academy and the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters. For more information, call 912-790-8800 or visit www.telfair.org.