American artist Tauba Auerbach’s work explores new territory and seems really fresh and interesting; she is definitely mining a rich creative seam, creating bold, graphic, sometimes puzzling work centered around communication and information. Fascinated by language – from phonetics to anagrams to actual letterforms, as well as the implications of miscommunication – much of her work borders on the abstract whilst reveling in the written symbol and mark.
From an early age Auerbach, originally from San Francisco, knew she wanted to be an artist but chose to study maths and science at Stanford University. After graduating she worked for three years as a professional sign painter, which started “an aesthetic fascination” with words, which has never left her, and has obviously had a huge bearing on her work. Initially exploring letterforms and different alphabets – maritime signals, the ancient Phoenician alphabet – she then became more intrigued with letter frequencies in common texts, and the way words morph and slide. Its hard to tell from the images here but despite appearing computer generated, virtually all her work is painstakingly painted by hand (which took its toll at one point when Auerbach suffered from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, finally persuading her to hire an assistant).
With the painted word so key to Auerbach’s work there are echoes of Ed Ruscha, with his gnomic sayings and phrases, and the work of Bridget Riley is also a major influence. More recently she has begun to explore the digital realm – representations of binary patterns and large scale photographs of static – taking her work to another level of complexity and repetition
“In looking at the material of what is behind anything digitized — ones and zeros, or a signal and then the absence of a signal — I’ve come to feel that the system is prohibitively absolute. It’s a simple idea of something being there or not being there, and that’s what continues to fascinate me.”