Space and Place is an exhibition comprising a collection of seminal sculptures as well as works on paper from the 1970s to the 1990s from American minimalist artist Jene Highstein. Although not a household name compared to his contemporaries Richard Serra and Gordon Matta-Clark, Highstein created works that were instrumental in the development of minimal and post-minimal artistic practice in America. He was interested in using industrial materials to make organic forms that, once placed inside the confines of a white walled gallery, have an awe-inspiring impact as well as offering interesting investigations about space and the way we navigate it.
In this rare retrospective, there are only a few works on show but they summarise his practice. One notable highlight of the exhibition is Four Forged Steel (1978) and the equally important black bone pigment works on paper, which he made between 1975 and 1977. The Four Forged Steel sculptures are relatively diminutive in size (only 60cm tall at most), but their dimensions belie their density as each one weighs over 1,000 kilograms. This underlines the artist’s desire to confound expectations. Throughout his artistic career, Highstein investigated the relationship of sculpture to its surroundings and its impact on the viewer’s perception of space. As critic Lily Wei wrote in a tribute exhibition hosted by the Jean-Paul Najar Foundation at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice after his death in 2013: “[Highstein] wanted his work to create a presence in the mind, an experience that was not curtailed to a specific form and not necessarily permanent.”
Jean Paul Najar Foundation, Alserkal Avenue, Dubai. Until June 30