Agnieszka Pilat: ROBOTa
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MODERNISM INC., | 724 Ellis Street, San Francisco, CA 94121
Submitted by the Event Organizer
November 3 – December 22, 2022; Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00am – 5:30pm
As a young draughtsman with an interest in painting, Leonardo da Vinci was taken by his father to a Florentine master named Andrea del Verrocchio. Impressed by the young man’s talent, Andrea apprenticed him, providing Leonardo with training in skills underlying the masterpieces for which he’s now famous.
Recognizing the value of apprenticeship for artists of promise, the painter Agnieszka Pilat recently offered apprenticeships to Digit and Spot. Unlike Leonardo, Digit and Spot are robots. Products of Boston Dynamics, they’re widely admired for their mechanical dexterity. But it took Pilat – who was schooled in the European tradition of figurative painting – to appreciate their latent creative potential.
MODERNISM is pleased to present the results of this unprecedented year-long apprenticeship: a dozen large-scale oil paintings that offer visual delight while expanding upon the conceptual groundwork of Marcel Duchamp and Jean Tinguely by questioning conventional ideas about creativity, authorship, and even human nature. “Working in close contact with a robot gives the impression of an encounter with another mind,” says Pilat. “It seems that the robot has agency.”
Each of the two robots shows a distinctive artistic personality. With a humanoid form and movements that must be programmed in advance, Digit manipulates brushes with an energetic angularity reminiscent of Jean-Michel Basquiat, as can be witnessed in a video on view at Modernism. Shaped like a dog, Spot holds paint sticks in his mouth while making controlled motions under Pilat’s direct guidance. As can be seen on the gallery walls, the paintings have calligraphic qualities evocative of Cy Twombly. Spot has also specialized in making multi-colored circles of spattered paint tracked with his feet, several of which are on view in “ROBOTa”. The circles are geometrically perfect yet spontaneous in their color patterns, a sort of hybrid of Hard-Edge Abstraction and Abstract Expressionism.
Presented by MODERNISM INC.