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Lacuna (Black Page) 11 (2018)

Lacuna (Black Page) 11 (2018)

Nelson Henricks

Lacuna (Black Page) 11


silkscreen on found page mounted on acid free paper 

11 ¼ x 8 ½ x 1 ½ inches (frame size)



The exhibition Lacuna (Alas Poor Yorick!) brings together a series of works in diverse media inspired by the black page in Laurence Sterne’s book The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman.

Tristram Shandy is a farcical autobiography published in nine volumes between 1759 and 1767. The novel is highly experimental, exploring the limits of typography and print design. For example, in Book 1, Chapter 12, a page printed entirely black appears at a point in the story when a character named Yorick dies. On one hand, the black page can be understood as an overflowing of ink and emotion representing inexpressible grief. On the other hand, it is like an image of an open grave: an opening, an absence, a void.

Using Sterne’s black page as a starting point, Henricks developed two series of paintings, two series of photographs, and several mixed media works. On one level, the project is an exploration of the history of modern art. Sterne’s black page both predates and anticipates 20th century monochrome, a history that traditionally begins with Malevich’s paintings Black Square (1915) and White on White (1918). Henricks excavates a prehistory of monochrome, one that originates in farce, rather than in formal or spiritual concerns.

In architecture, a grid of sunken square boxes in a ceiling is called a lacunaria. A lacunar ceiling both lightens and strengthens the structures in which it is used. In literature, a lacuna is a missing portion of a book or manuscript. While working in the studio, Henricks began using a form of successive, diminishing rectangles that resembles a lacuna: the white edges of the page frame the black page that in turn frames a darker black rectangle. In this exhibition, Henricks uses the lacuna as a means to reflect on loss, mourning, and memory. In the process, he confronts the limits of what can be said or expressed through language, and the role that transformation plays in processes of renewal.