Two-person shows are always a risk. Not every pairing is convincing. “How Objects Grasp Their Magic,” Pace’s juxtaposition of works by Richard Tuttle and Choong Sup Lim—two artists of the same age and generation who come from starkly different contexts and traditions of figuration and representation—seems at first a curious match. While its poster places Lim and Tuttle’s work side-by-side, the exhibition is split between two floors, each dedicated to a single artist. Despite this physical separation, a certain sensitivity resonates throughout. On the psychovisual level, both artists wield an open understanding of the abject: not the dark and somber Bataillean kind, but a more poetic and optimistic type (that is, if you could ever call the abject “optimistic”).
Lim’s floor starts with a series of shaped canvases. Their fibrous painterly surfaces recall organic life forms, while their unique shapes hint at botanical elements such as seeds, leaves, and grains. Like most plant products, their vital energy seems contained within the skin: not exactly alive, but not quite dead either. Tuttle’s display opens with Euterpe (music), 2019, which cobbles together a primitive coat of arms from plastic spoons piled atop a piece of Tupperware attached to an assemblage of wall-mounted plywood. The vivid blue of the synthetic lid, the yellow swath of bunched canvas, and a deep V of emerald green spray paint elevate the composition from chaos into a contemporary engagement with color, material, and balance.
In producing wall-based objects, both artists cleave to the tenets of the painterly process. While these powerful endeavors deserve solo attention, their proximity to each other is synergetic, as it highlights their unique yet equally renewed relationship to the project of painting.