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336 Warren Street
June/July 2009

Joan Banach: Monuments of Ur

There are people who think they find the key to their destinies in heredity, others in horoscopes, others again in education.  For my part, I believe that I would gain numerous insights into my later life from my collection of picture postcards, if I were to leaf through it again today … because the longing we feel for a place determines it as much as does its outward image…

Walter Benjamin 

‚Äč

Puzzle
Once sought-after and desired,
Died out and devastated,
It now appears across the old spot
With a new work.
And from its middle spits
A glimmer; whoever extinguishes it,
Finds that in the rolls of rubble
An ancient riddle sounds.
Answer: Ruine, Rune 


The Nicole Fiacco Gallery is pleased to present Monuments of Ur, an exhibition of new paintings and drawings by Joan Banach, marking the artist’s first exhibition with the gallery.  The title and inspiration for this body of work comes in part from a study of the rise and desolation of the ancient first city of Ur, and the drawings in panoramas are metaphorical depictions of Ur, its dominions, ruined monuments, and its climate. 


Utilizing a technique that draws on the traditions of scenic matte painting for film, the paintings are built as abstract guides to an imagined organization of the city, seen from the air. With aspects of realism set aside, the images are micrographic, compressed as they might be in memory. Spatial and architectural formations suggest distance, contemplation, foreboding, and fantasy. The metaphysical landscapes of Giorgio de Chirico are a latent but important precursor.  


Joan Banach (American b. 1953) studied with Lee Bontecou and Harry Holtzman at Brooklyn College.  She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for painting in 2000.  Her work was exhibited at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, in 2000 and 2003.  In 2008, her paintings were shown at the Kitchen, New York, in an exhibition that explored the genre of science fiction as a resource to critique contemporary society by looking forward.  Her most recent solo was at Small A Projects, New York in November 2008.  Her paintings will be the subject of a Knoedler Gallery Project exhibition in New York, in November of this year.  Banach’s work is in the permanent collections of the Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY; the Museum of Modern Art, NY, NY; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam and the Collezione Marimotti, Emilia, Italy.  Banach’s work has been reviewed in publications including the New York Times, Art in America, Art Forum and The Brooklyn Rail, among others.


Joan Banach lives and works in New York City, and Nassau, New York.