The Weight of Souls I
2017-18
acrylic paint and chalk on cotton duck canvas and canvas board, 13 part work:
1. 165 x 240 cm, 2. 190 x 240 cm, 3. 25 x 30 cm, 4. 20 x 25 cm, 5. 25.5 x 25.5 cm, 6. 26 x 25.5 cm, 7. 20 x 20 cm, 8. 18 x 13 cm, 9. 25 x 30 cm, 10. 25.5 x 20.5 cm, 11. 25.5 x 20.5 cm, 12. 25.5 x 30 cm, 13. 20.5 x 20.5 cm

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Maureen Paley is pleased to announce the representation of Avis Newman and to present The Weight of Souls I (2017-18) in Studio M, the gallery’s project space in Shoreditch, East London.

Avis Newman’s work is rooted in the conceptual space of drawing and incorporates canvas works, objects and works on paper. Since 2007, she has identified her works as Configurations - ‘assemblages of interchangeable elements, layered, hung, and partially overlapped, which are arranged in sets or in sequences and that resist an absolute fixity.’

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Watch the latest interview with Avis Newman filmed on the occasion of her first solo exhibition at Studio M, London.

‘The activity of drawing opened up a space of ‘unfinishedness’, ‘incompletion’ and ‘open-ended’ activity that allowed uncertainty, paradox, contradiction, in a way that I didn’t find in the activity of painting, and I think that is because painting has a certain or had a certain sort of authority. Drawing was a very interesting space of excavation.'

Avis Newman, excerpt from video transcript, 2021

The Weight of Souls I
2017-18
detail

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These works propose a series of mobile relations that exceed fixed boundaries. Her longstanding influences come from the symbolic worlds of ancient cultures and an interest in fundamental ideas of origin - as embodied in the moment of initial tracing and the genesis of the mark.

The Weight of Souls I
2017-18
detail

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‘Birds have frequented my work, always. I like the thought of beings that are in two elements: reptiles, birds, bats. Those things that exist in water or in air but can also be grounded. And obviously the bird is a symbol of transition. But they lend themselves to mythologising, which is something that I work with, and of course ‘birds of a feather’, actually, the meaning is how things can be classified together, or identified together, and I use a lot of those sorts of ideas. It’s very much sort of poetics. So it’s about description and language is generated by the need to describe.’

The Weight of Souls I
2017-18
detail

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‘The title comes from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. It is spell number 30, and it’s the spell that enables the soul to transition from the body of the dead and for the dead to go into the afterlife. What I liked about this idea was that the Egyptians thought part of the soul was located in the heart, and rather than the brain being the seat of emotion and reason the heart was the seat of emotion and reason, and that the notion of justice was located in this part of the heart.’

Avis Newman, excerpt from video transcript, 2021

Avis Newman, excerpt from video transcript, 2021