b. 1955, United States
'The idea is to make the work rich enough, dense enough, or complex enough so that there is always something unexpected that may come out of that experience.'
Featuring large-scale installations of textiles, ceramics and drawings, the work of Polly Apfelbaum (b.1955, Abington) is framed by wider political contexts and the legacy of post-war American art. Apfelbaum combines a variety of media with eye-catching colours and patterns to blur the lines between painting, sculpture and installation, while also exploring the boundaries between art and handicraft. She chooses materials, such as textiles and ceramics, that are usually found in the domestic realm, and emphasises their essential qualities, especially colour and texture. In this way, Apfelbaum assumes a political and feminist position, challenging hierarchies in cultural practice.
During the 1990s she created what she calls ‘fallen paintings’, works using vibrant hand-dyed fabrics shown on the floor. She described them as ‘poised between painting and sculpture … working promiscuously and improperly’. Deep Purple, Red Shoes III (2015) is a carpet installation composed of strips woven by Oaxacan artisans, in shades of deep red and purple that flow into one another. The nature of the installation invites the viewer to walk upon it. The quality of suppleness that informs Apfelbaum’s work creates ‘a non-rigid formal language, the softness of crushed velvet, the liquidity of fabric. Things piled up, draped, lying on the floor, leaning against the wall. Serial and variable arrangements’.