Gregg Bordowitz: Tetragrammaton

a monotype print with a gradient background that moves from yellow to purple to black. Scratched into the gradient are straight but abstract lines.

Gregg Bordowitz, Tetragrammaton (Non-Binary Hero), 2021. Monotype, 22 ½ x 15 inches. Courtesy of the artist. Printed by 10 Grand Press. Photo: Nicholas Ostness.


November 6, 2021–March 13, 2022


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Gregg Bordowitz

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The tetragrammaton is the four-letter Hebrew word for G-d in Judaism, which is never uttered and appears only in written form. The reader of the prayer book honors the holiness of the word and prohibition against pronouncing this name by substituting with honorifics such as adonai (My Lords) or hashem (the name).

Drawing on a longstanding Jewish meditation practice of visually concentrating on the letters of the tetragrammaton, yodh, he, vav, he, Gregg Bordowitz has created a new body of work that functions like calligraphy wherein the word is an image and the image is a word. The prints that comprise this exhibition combine the letters in different arrangements and every line drawn is part of a letter. In Bordowitz’s work, the letters connect, touch, overlap, and ultimately remain incomplete as the tetragrammaton, though their form and meaning may be recognizable to a Hebrew reader.

A renowned artist, writer, teacher, and activist whose media and performance works have dealt with urgent contemporary issues from the perspective of a queer Jewish man living with AIDS, Bordowitz has undertaken this new body of work with the utmost sincerity, care, and respect for the Jewish traditions around the tetragrammaton. Throughout his career, Bordowitz’s works have included Jewish themes and cultural references. While the prints can serve as meditation or devotional symbols for viewers, they are mediations and aesthetic works for the artist that further extend the powerful significance of the Hebrew letters.

Artist Bios

Gregg Bordowitz (born 1964, New York) is an artist and writer. He is the director of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago Low Residency MFA program, and he is on the faculty of the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. His career survey I Wanna Be Well, organized by the Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery in 2018, has toured to the Art Institute of Chicago (2019) and MoMA PS1 (2021). He has performed at the New Museum, New York (2018); the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (2012); Iceberg Projects, Chicago (2011); Murray Guy, New York (2011); and Temple Gallery, Philadelphia (2011), and his work has been presented at the Tate Modern, London (2011), and Tanzquartier Wien, Vienna (2010). His films have been screened in numerous museums and at festivals, and his writing has been widely published.

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Gregg Bordowitz: Tetragrammaton is organized by Liz Park, former Curator of Exhibitions at UB Art Galleries. All prints in the exhibition were produced with master printer Marina Ancona at 10 Grand Press, Brooklyn, NY. Support for this exhibition is provided in part by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts logo.