Paula Scher: All Over the Map
09/10/20 – 08/11/20
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Sims Reed Gallery is delighted to present the work of Paula Scher for the first time to European audiences. One of the most internationally acclaimed graphic designers, Scher is a partner at the iconic design consultancy Pentagram. Her lifelong love of typography and deep interest in maps, which were inspired by her father, have led her to create her own interpretation of maps, both as screenprints and paintings. Scher’s macrocosms are intrinsically absurd while feeling familiar. Her latest series of screenprints highlights over-stimulation in our modern age and the constant advertising, news, signs and symbols that surround us in our everyday lives. The artist’s unequivocal renderings of abundance are in some sense a meta-study of semiotics, within its own distinctive Scherian satire.
Paula Scher’s work on the theme of maps represent drawings, prints and environmental installations that have been extracted from aerial photography commissioned for the U.S. Geological Service in the 1950s.
The artist traces her fascination with maps back to her childhood. Her father, a civil engineer for the United States Geological Survey, specialised in photogrammetry – the use of photography in surveying and mapping to measure distances between objects. With her father’s acumen as reference, Scher learned that maps were never totally accurate, and as cheekily expressed by Scher, that in fact, “all maps lie.” Scher’s father’s contribution to the history of map-making evolved to be monumental: he is inventor of a measuring device called Stereo Templates, which corrected lens distortions when aerial photography was enlarged for printed maps. This invention ultimately became the foundation for what we now know as Google Maps.
Each Map of Scher’s is a unique rendering, full of information about the World; oceans, cities, streets or neighbourhoods are all represented, and each with attention to a specific area of interest and inspection, be that the winding curves that make up a highway system or a region as seen in zip codes. Not quite abstract works, despite their obscured representation, Scher’s Maps are instead overlaid with layers of information for the viewers; they are powerful infographics of expression that explore the many angles from which to view the microcosms of the world at large.
The latest series of Maps are focused on locations where artists, who are much admired by Scher and the publisher, had lived or spent meaningly time: London, Berlin, Tokyo, Rome, USA and the World Trade Routes.