Formafantasma CAMBIO

Formafantasma CAMBIO

Serpentine Galleries, London

Until 17 May 2020

COVID-19 UPDATES > This exhibition is closed to the public until further notice

Formafantasma (Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin, b. 1983 and 1980, Italy) are designers who dissect the ecological and political responsibilities of their discipline. Their holistic approach reaches back into the history of a particular material used by humans, out towards the patterns of supply chains that have developed to support and expand its use, and forward to the future of that material’s survival in relation to human consumption.

Cambio, from the medieval Latin cambium, ‘change, exchange’, is an ongoing investigation conducted by Formafantasma into the governance of the timber industry. The evolution of this form of commerce over time, and its tentacular expansion across the globe, has made it difficult to regulate. It grew out of the bioprospecting that took place throughout colonial territories during the nineteenth century, becoming one of the largest industries in the world both in terms of the revenue it generates and the impact it has on the planet’s biosphere.

The earliest objects in the exhibition are samples of rare hardwoods first exhibited in the Great Exhibition of 1851, a few hundred metres from this building, some of which come from trees logged to the point of extinction. The newest are the exhibition displays and seating designed by Formafantasma, all of which were made from a single tree blown over in a storm in northern Italy in 2018. Contained in every piece of wood is an archive of climatic change and the movement of natural materials around the world. Cambio also references the cambial layer, a membrane that runs around the trunk of trees, producing wood on the inside, a record of the tree’s past, and bark on the outside, enabling it to keep growing. Like the rings of a tree, the central spaces of the exhibition present data and research in the form of interviews, reference materials and two films made by Formafantasma in response to their research, while the perimeter spaces offer a series of case studies that provide insight into the way wood is sourced and used. Each of these investigations represents a collaboration with experts from the fields of science, conservation, engineering, policymaking and philosophy. Together, they move from a microscopic analysis of wood and its ability to store carbon dioxide to a metaphysical understanding of trees as living organisms.

This multidisciplinary exhibition highlights the crucial role that design can play in our environment, and its responsibility to look beyond the edges of its borders as a discipline. The future of design can and must attempt to translate emerging environmental awareness into a renewed understanding of the philosophy and politics of trees that will encourage informed, collaborative responses.

Images > Formafantasma, Cambio, Installation view, Serpentine Galleries, London Photo: George Darrell

JEAN-FRÉDÉRIC SCHNYDER at EVA PRESENHUBER, NEW YORK

JEAN-FRÉDÉRIC SCHNYDER at EVA PRESENHUBER, NEW YORK

EVA PRESENHUBER, NEW YORK

Until April 19 2020

COVID-19 UPDATES > open by appointment only until further notice

Schnyder began producing experimental objects in the late 1960s within the context of pop art and has since gone on to create a broad oeuvre encompassing photographs, sculptures, paintings, objects, and installations. Conceptually and radically open in his artistic process, each series of works he creates leads to a new experimental arrangement. Accordingly, Schnyder does not simply adhere to an overarching concept, but rather meticulously focuses upon his subject, thereby coming up with ever-new concepts. The result of this unique openness is an oeuvre full of discontinuity; some of his approaches are so different from each other that they seem to be all but mutually exclusive.

In this exhibition, Schnyder gives us an overview of his paintings from the 1970s up until 2000, and shows the room-installation Hüter der Schwelle (Guardians of the threshold) from 2014. In the 42 predominantly small-format pictures, which the artist has arranged especially for this presentation, one can witness surprising continuities and breaks in Schnyder’s work, which offer a glimpse into his thinking process. 

The only large-format canvas on view, Stillleben (Still Life) from 1970, is one of Schnyder’s first paintings. It was initially shown in 1971 at La Biennale Paris together with the pictures Akt (Act) and Landschaft (Landscape). This exhibition was a sensation in more than one way. Just two years earlier, Schnyder had displayed conceptual objects in the exhibition When Attitude Becomes Form at Kunsthalle BernTherefore, paintings constituted a new medium for the artist, and displaying paintings in Paris meant going against the grain, as the medium was considered passé in the early 1970s. The Paris show was indeed not attuned to painting, so much so that Schnyder displaying paintings was interpreted as a unique conceptual statement, even though the works were not created under the guise of a concept, but rather reflected the artist’s genuine interest in a medium he was beginning to discover for himself. Many important aspects of later works can be found in Stillleben (Still Life). 

Stillleben, Akt, Landschaft (Still Life, Act, Landscape) represent the three most common motifs in art history. This interest in existing and common practices is typical of the artist. It is almost impossible to discern a stylistic development within Schnyder’s oeuvre; style never being an aspect of the painter’s individual development, but rather a means the artist draws upon for each painting or series. For this reason, his works are stylistically highly heterogeneous. 

From 1982 to 1983, Schnyder created his first series of plein air paintings: the Berner Veduten (Vedute of Bern), encompassing 128 paintings. At the time, the artist had no studio, which is why he adopted the tradition of plein air painting and began to work outdoors in Bern and surrounding areas. Drawing upon veduta motifs typical of the works of painters like Ferdinand Hodler, he again turned to the commonplace. However, he did not act as a copyist, being primarily interested in the process of painting itself. The landscapes are precise; he did not exclude a single pylon or vapor trail, which might have been removed from a romantic landscape. Inversely, Schnyder not only discovered new details in the landscapes but also in the paintings he referred to. Thus, he over accentuated artistic effects such as the corona of a sunrise in a work by Hodler, thereby reflecting the beholder’s own vision of art history.

In his subsequent plein air studies, Schnyder intensified and expanded this focus on art history and the Swiss landscapes depicted. His Bänkli-Bilder (Pictures from Benches —five of which are on display (So liebt Gott die Welt, Bei Kerzers, Stürmische Winde aus Nordwest, Das Prättigau bei Grüsch, Milten bei SchleintheimThus God Loves the World, At Kerzer’s, Stormy Winds from the North-West, The Prättigau near Grüsch, Milten near Scheinheim)—were all painted from the vantage points of different public benches. In this group lies an irresistible logic typical to Schnyder’s approach:

on the one hand, the painter does not have to choose a specific section of the landscape; on the other, these are exactly the perspectives that hikers and those walking encounter daily. Moreover, a large selection of benches allows for an encyclopedic capturing of his subject. It is part and parcel of Schnyder’s exact practice and his photographic vision that the view, which might have been unspoiled before the bench was installed, is not untouched by the time the painting was produced.

The precision and totality with which Schnyder captures his motifs lead to an ambiguity, which does not stem from an ironic attitude, but an exact perception of reality. His perspective brings something repressed to the fore like pylons or motorways, which do not fit into the archetype of romanticized Swiss landscapes but have become an accepted part of these landscapes. 

In his studio works, which include figurative and abstract pieces, Schnyder carves out this difference between the pictorial and the symbolic order. This is most obvious in the abstract Studie XVIII (Study XVIII) in which a canvas primed in green bears an also green relief spelling the letters ROT, German for red. ROT is not red.

In this extraordinary way, Schnyder projects theoretical discussions onto the canvas itself. His interest in practical solutions lets him create certain archetypes, such as a torso featuring color as the body of painting, or one of the golden rules of painting—“Fett auf Mager (fat over lean)”—painted over a canvas he did not paint himself but bought. Schnyder’s solution of how to paint another classic motif, flowers, is to draw upon a static system of pixels reminding one of early digital aesthetics as well as of color field paintings of the beginning of the 20th century. These floral paintings seem so lucid that they amount to a color theory one can perceive with one’s senses.

The paintings are accompanied by the 22-part lamp installation Hüter der Schwelle (Guardians of the threshold), which consists of banana cartons bearing holes resembling faces, but also reminiscent of typical box handles. Thus, an everyday object becomes a form. Schnyder and his family moved around Switzerland often and, in the course of these relocations, accumulated many boxes. In 2012, Schnyder decided to use the boxes as material for his sculptures and, in doing so, repurposed every part of this moving good from the cardboard to small metal brackets. The notion of reusing materials and giving them new life can also be seen in certain of Schnyder’s abstract paintings, where he saves leftover pigment from other works and then applies them with a scraper in a burst of riotous color.

The installation and the 42 paintings on display are so diverse that their assembly does not seem to make sense at first sight. However, the logic exists precisely in the fact that single works and series are the results of a rigidly methodical process, while the whole goes far beyond these systems. In the series themselves, insanity has found its system while Schnyder’s work defies any kind of systemization.

Jean-Frédéric Schnyder was born in 1945 in Basel, CH. He lives and works in Zug, CH. His first solo exhibition organized by Eva Presenhuber at Galerie Walcheturm in Zurich took place in 1993, followed by another in 1996. A solo exhibition at Galerie Hauser & Wirth & Presenhuber took place in 1999. At Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich, Schnyder has had solo exhibitions in 2004, 2010, and 2019. In 2018, Eva Presenhuber, New York showed the body of works Am Thunersee in a solo exhibition. Schnyder contributed to the La Biennale di Venezia, Venice, IT (2013); La Biennale Paris, Paris, FR (1985 and 1971); Documenta 5, Kassel, DE (1972); and Documenta 7, Kassel, DE (1982). Recent solo exhibitions have taken place in international institutions including Kunsthaus Zürich, Zurich, CH (2014); Kunstmuseum Bern, Bern, CH (2013); Ca’ Corner della Regina Venice, Venice, IT (2013); Le Consortium, Dijon, FR (2012); and The Swiss Institute / Contemporary Art, New York, US (2011). Group exhibitions in major museums include Zeitgeist, MAMCO – Musée d´art moderne et contemporain, Geneve, CH (2017); Das Fotobuch und seine Autoren, Swiss National Library, Bern, CH (2015); Drawings from the Ringier Collection Chapter I, Villa Flora Winterthur – Sammlung Hahnloser, Winterthur, CH (2015); and Ferdinand Hodler, Jean-Frédéric Schnyder, Kunsthaus Zürich, Zurich, CH (2014).

Tillmann Severin

Photo: Matt Grubb, Installation view, Jean-Frédéric Schnyder, Eva Presenhuber, New York, 2020. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich / New York

HANNAH EPSTEIN, MAKING BETS IN A BURNING HOUSE

HANNAH EPSTEIN, MAKING BETS IN A BURNING HOUSE

Steve Turner Gallery, Los Angeles

Until 28 March 2020

Making Bets In A Burning House, a solo exhibition by Hannah Epstein consisting of room installations in two separate galleries, one with a selection of handmade hooked rugs and the other with algorithmically printed digital works. In the first room, the textiles are installed in a room that looks like a video game dungeon. The floor is covered with a carpet that depicts bubbling lava and the walls are finished to resemble white bricks. The wall works include a range of imagery–a ten foot tall dragon; an animal face surrounded by mandala-inspired fists; pornographic videos looping inside rugs; a woman carrying the weight of Atlas on her shoulders; and a tornado with a small hand hidden inside. The miles of looped yarn convey that Epstein labored hard to create these works, and within her labor there is an ominous danger that threatens the viewer and maker.

The second room has a green carpet which resembles a grass lawn and all the wall works are all AI generated, made from an algorithm that analyzed Epstein’s works from the past eight years and predicted what she might create next. There also is a monitor playing surveilled content, filtered through an AI image recognition software, identifying people and objects from the first room. A single handmade work sits on the grass, a colorful soft worm, whose face goes from innocent to menacing when handled.

Hannah Epstein earned a BA from Memorial University of Newfoundland (2009) and an MFA from Carnegie Mellon (2017). Recent solo exhibitions include those at HUB Gallery, Pennsylvania State University (2019); Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto (2019) and Steve Turner, Los Angeles (2018 & 2019). Recent group exhibitions include those at Long Beach Museum of Art (2019); San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles (2019) and The Rooms, St. Johns, Newfoundland (2019). Epstein lives and works in Toronto.

Luis Xertu, Renditions of impermanence at Torch Gallery, Amsterdam

Luis Xertu, Renditions of impermanence at Torch Gallery, Amsterdam

Torch Gallery, Amsterdam

until 25 April 2020

by Doron Beuns

Life is inherently ephemeral and fragile. Mother Nature could take life at the same rate of creation, even in the most prosperous and medically advanced societies. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has proven that possibility beyond the stretch of our collective imagination. Until the public health crisis, most of us were not at all used to dealing with mercilessness of Mother Nature, at least not on a daily basis. Being constantly confronted with the finitude of life could therefore easily unsettle us. However, one thing that could actually help us deal with this unsettlement is a work of art. At its best it could help us to come to terms with mercilessness of Mother Nature and find consolation in its sublime beauty. Luis Xertu’s first solo presentation at Torch Gallery in Amsterdam could not have been scheduled at a more interesting time in that respect. 

Luis Xertu at Torch Gallery Amsterdam, curated by Valentijn van der Hulst

The paintings of Luis Xertu depict shadowy figures in gloomy natural scenes made from real plants that are directly glued onto dark canvases. Some of these plants appear to be freshly picked and relatively vital whereas other plants are as faint as the figures in the painting. A sense of vitality has been lost or will be lost over time in a Luis Xertu painting. Everything seems to be caught in the midst of fading away into oblivion. That which really disintegrates within the painting and that which disintegrates in our imagination become one. 

Luis Xertu at Torch Gallery Amsterdam, curated by Valentijn van der Hulst
Luis Xertu, God’s First Creature, 2016  
Luis Xertu, The Voyeur, 2019

Luis Xertu consistently blurs distinctions between pictorial and material elements in his paintings. This mostly applies to how or where the plants are applied onto the canvas. When we pay attention to how the plants are applied we may notice that the plants remain flat on their own but suddenly return to three dimensions when they partake in a composition. If we then on the other hand pay attention to where the plants are applied (and where they are not applied), we may notice that the smooth dark space could function as a background in one part of a painting but could suggest a tree -branch, water-source or figure in another. 

Luis Xertu, Young Kronos, 2020
Luis Xertu, The Three Fates, 2019 

Positive and negative are constantly at odds with each other in Xertu’s paintings. Not just visually but also conceptually; we on the one hand observe the dismal ephemerality that comes with the passing of time but on the other hand observe subjects that leisure away. They are enjoying nature rather than being concerned with its laws. This is where a possible concern about human finitude makes place for the beauty of obsolescence in Xertu’s paintings. They rightfully acknowledge that human experience has always existed on the exact borderline of these two domains. It is up to us where we place the emphasis, especially today.

Luis Xertu, The Number Two, 2020

Sonia Gomes I Rise – I’m a Black Ocean, Leaping and Wide

Sonia Gomes I Rise – I’m a Black Ocean, Leaping and Wide

by Elda Oreto

Sonia Gomes never considered a career as an artist. She discovered her vocation by accident, long after she thought herself established in another occupation. Almost as if she had found her way after a long off-piste run. I rise – I’m a Black Ocean, Leaping and Wide is Sonia Gomes’ first exhibition in Germany, it is on display at the Salon Berlin, the Berlin exhibition space of the Frieder Burda Museum, in Baden-Baden (museum-frieder-burda.de/de/home). The show is curated by Patricia Kamp, artistic director and curator of the space which displays, apart from Gomes’ works, installations, sculptures and art from to 2000 onwards. The installations insinuate themselves into the space like organic creatures: they crawl on the floor, climb up the walls or hang in balance down from the ceiling. Everything is in motion.

Sonia Gomes, To De Kooning, 2019. Mixed Media, 180 × 90 × 60 cm © Sonia Gomes; Courtesy of Mendes Wood DM São Paulo, Brussels, New York; Foto: Bruno Leão

Cordão dos Mentecaptos (2016), is a carnival image in which a long line of fabric – supported by barbed wire and padded with various types of cloth – that resembles a snake or an umbilical cord, winds through the room. In Hiato (2019) two nets padded with fabric and resembling stuffed bags and lumpy knots, hang from the ceiling, counterbalancing one another. Aninhado (2019) is a cage folded and forcibly fastened to the root of a tree. Picaré (2018), from the Raíz series, is a huge tree trunk that the artist salvaged from a river and to which she attached a fishing net and other fabrics. The relationship her artwork establishes between different elements is not always an easy one. Indeed, the elements are forced together with deliberate violence, recalling the poses of certain athletes or acrobats.

On the wall there is a poem by Maya Angelou, “Still I Rise” (1978), which was also the title of the exhibition Gomes held at the same time at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) and at the Casa de Vidro. The relationship between poetry and sculpture is fundamental to Gomes’ practice. All of her materials are used or found by chance, they have already their own history and they have been affected by the actions and movements of other subects. Everything is permeated by the very rich Afro-Brazilian spiritual and religious heritage. “It’s a job of building stories and lives and time,” the artist says, and this becomes evident if we consider that weaving and writing have one thing in common: they create connections. There is always an element at the border between life and death, between the end and the rebirth. Twisted, nervous, dream-like disturbing objects that combine a good and a bad characteristics. A chemistry of feelings in which, at some point, it is impossible to identify differences.

Sônia Gomes. © 2019

Sonia Gomes was born in Caetanopolis, a Brazilian municipality, in 1948, from a marriage between an Afro-Brazilian woman and a white man. She grew up with her father’s Catholic family, after the premature death of her mother. But the influence of African culture persists in her life and strongly affects her work. Sonia Gomes worked in her father’s textile factory alongside the seamstresses. They all worked busily in the factory, like the women in Diego Velázquez’s painting, Las Hilanderas. The humid heat of the tropical jungle, the sounds of birds with unknown names and the noise of the water filled her afternoons, as Sonia hemmed, cut, and sewed. But Gomes knew that she would never be a seamstress. She did things her way, with no specific purpose or direction. On the recommendation of a friend, she enrolled in the Guignard Art School and, at the age of 40, she embarked on a completely new, unexpected path. She began exploring other possibilities beyond the classic media of art and experimented by mixing fabrics and leaves, tree trunks and colors. Fabric, silk, cotton, lace and bright colors all merged with wood, metal cages and fishing nets.

Gomes doesn’t like to label her work, so she does not call it contemporary. But it is through contemporary art that she has discovered to be an artist. “Sometimes my job resembles my innards,” says Gomes, describing the most organic and intuitive aspect of her practice, which also has a strong aesthetic and formal component. She makes her art out of necessity, or she would have gone mad, she says. Art is a way to discover life, without worrying about the commercial aspect of her work, Gomes has always focused on honesty: for her, art is truth. Even though Gomes does not belong to one specific artistic movement, with her work, she supports the Afro-Brazilian political movement, and now that her work has gained visibility, she believes it is important to give her contribution.

Sonia Gomes, TECIDOS LEVES ATADOS EM FORҪA
2013, stitching, bindings, different fabrics and laces, 230 × 100 × 20 cm photo Thomas Bruns

Gomes feels that there is a great deal of distrust in Afro-Brazilian artists. Racism today is real and cruel, she says. If there is a law about it, that also means that a prejudice exists. So she uses each work as a chance to support her cause. In her art, Gomes combines African tradition and surrealism. Many elements of her work recall Brazilian modernism, contemporary art and the practice of Louis Bourgeois’ – including a strange parallelism between her life story and his. At the same time, there are references to the Black Atlantic, an Afro-diasporic counterculture described by Paul Gilroy in 1993 as “not specifically African, American, Caribbean or European but all of them together.”

Represented by the Mendes Wood DM Gallery, Gomes held her first major institutional monographic exhibitions in 2018 in Brazil, at the MASP (Museu de Arte de São Paulo) and at the Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Niterói. Her work has also been included in institutional collective exhibitions such as the 56th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2015); Entangled: Threads and Making, Turner Contemporary, Margate, United Kingdom (2017); Revival, The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C., USA (2017); Art & Textiles: Fabric as Material and Concept in Modern Art, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany (2013); and Out of Fashion. Textile in International Contemporary Art, Kunsten – Museum of Modern Art Aalborg, Denmark (2013).

Courtesy Museum Frieder Burda ©

Salon Berlin is a forum for international contemporary art, a showroom and an experimental space of the Frieder Burda Museum. Salon Berlin is closely connected with the museum program and the internationally renowned Frieder Burda Collection, which focuses on modernism and contemporary art and now includes around 1000 paintings, sculptures, objects, photographs and works on paper. The collection is based in Baden-Baden, in the museum designed by the architect Richard Maier and inaugurated in 2004. It is managed by the Frieder Burda Foundation, founded in 1998.

Franziska Klotz and Patricia Ayres

Franziska Klotz and Patricia Ayres

GALERIE KORNFELD, Berlin

until 18 April 2020

Franziska Klotz paints landscapes, figures or structures that she observes in real life. The scrutiny of reality and existential questions of being are just as critical to her as the means of painting per se: Composition, colour, form and individual expression. Patricia Ayres makes sculptures out of fabric and other soft materials that evoke deformed archetypes of femininity. The vulnerability of the body becomes apparent, and also the striving of the soul for unconditional freedom.

Many artists passionately cherish the state of incognito, which hints towards dissociation. Franziska Klotz does not. With her new works, she reacts to her life and art with acute awareness. Those who know how to read Klotz’s paintings will perceive a particular, emotional moment in them, which connects the private inner world with the public environment. From an artistic point of view, Klotz’s annual production in 2019 is more concentrated, stylistically more condensed, and more oriented towards the significance of colour as matter. It includes drawings as well as small to mid-format oil on canvas paintings. More than ever before, Franziska Klotz respects the autonomy of artistic values as the essential factors in the transformation of reality.

Paintings of young people in times of crisis thematise mood swings and the challenges of coming of age. The highlight of the artistic self-interrogation of Klotz is the painting “Moorbrücke”, a symbolic painting constructed upon brown/white/grey/blue panels in which insecurity and instability constitute the horizon of interpretation in the life of every human being. This painting that points both towards the whence and the whither is a meditative bridge from colour to a transcendent reality. Franziska Klotz only primed the canvas partially, and she playfully places codes in the upper part of the painting with charcoal to lead the viewers into the open and ultimately to leave them to their own devices without easy answers…”

Associative candour also characterises the work of Patricia Ayres. Her amorphous, humanoid sculptures are sisters with the Venus of Willendorf and thus with a prehistoric expression of femininity. Simultaneously they are related to the fetish-like dolls of Hans Bellmer. An outer skin of coloured rubber bands, fabric and yarn, held together by hooks, eyelets and carabiners, stretches over a construction of cotton wool, foam rubber and plywood. The small-format works in our exhibition could just as well represent heads as torsos. Associations with skin-coloured underwear of the past come to mind. One could think of corsetry, which shapes the female body according to mostly male ideals, but also of straitjackets, which inhibit the need for movement of the mentally ill through fixation. The vulnerability of the figures is mirrored in the pedestals made of concrete blocks stacked on top of each other, some of which are painted. All the same, the irrepressible power of Patricia Ayres’ sculptures is all too evident, their unquenchable urge to break free and to literally tear the bonds and thus liberate not only the body but also the mind.

Franziska Klotz was awarded the Max Ernst Scholarship of the City of Brühl and worked for more than six months as a fellow of the German Cultural Academy Tarabya in Istanbul at the invitation of the Goethe Institute in 2015 and 2018. Her works are exhibited worldwide, for example at the 4th International Biennale for Young Art in Moscow 2014, at the 56th October Salon in Belgrade 2016 and the Fanø Art Museum in Denmark 2017. In 2018, her works were exhibited as part of the presentation of fellowship holders of the Tarabya Cultural Academy in Hamburger Bahnhof. In 2019, the Cultural Forum Schorndorf dedicated the exhibition “Ölregen” to her, which was accompanied by a catalogue with texts by Gerald Matt and Karin Schulze. After completing her fine arts studies at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York with a BFA and an MFA from the Hunter College of the City University of New York, Patricia Ayres graduated from the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture as master student in 2019. The works of the multi-award-winning artist, who came to Berlin for the first time in 2007 on a scholarship, were shown in 2019, among others, in the exhibition “Entering a Song” at Koenig & Clinton in Brooklyn, New York.

Images > Installation View Franziska Klotz and Patricia Ayres 24 Jan – 18 April 2020, Courtesy GALERIE KORNFELD, Berlin

SÉPÀND DANESH / ME, MY EAGLE AND MY SNAKE

SÉPÀND DANESH / ME, MY EAGLE AND MY SNAKE

BACKSLASH Gallery, Paris

12 March – 18 April, 2020

The Persian word konj-kav means “curious” (literally “digging into corners”). Sépànd Danesh has been digging into corners for nearly a decade now, giving them painted form with the vertical junction of two walls meeting, floor-less and ceiling-less. In his new exhibition at Backslash, the motifs that previously adorned his corners have given way to curious characters whose mindsets and moods we feel we recognise and sense. His figures are made up of identical fragments (tiny three-dimensional pixels), bringing to mind a poem by 13th-century Persian poet Saadi:

All human beings are in truth akin.
All in creation share one origin.
When fate allots a member pangs and pains,
No ease for other members then remains.
If, unperturbed, another’s grief canst scan,
Thou are not worthy of the name of man.

This cube-based stylized technique can be compared to the artistic experiments of Pointillist painters in the early 20th century: when a pointillist painting is observed from a certain distance, the coloured dots are impossible to tell apart, creating the optical effect of blending into each other. The same principle was adopted years later to create the digital raster image with the pixel as its base unit, its smallest element. Sépànd Danesh takes us into the world of the infinitely small, with the pixellation of the figures, as well as the infinitely large, with the universalisation of human emotions.

A present, 2020. Acrylic and spray on canvas \ Acrylique et peinture sur toile. 175 x 145 cm

The artist explains his approach: “In my work, I try to tackle the question (…) by using the pixel in its oncological form, as an object for reflection devising ever-new combinations and variations.”

For his third exhibition at Backslash, Sépànd Danesh is turning the corner into an open book, proposing a fresh interpretation of Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Me, my eagle and my snake narrates the adventures of a lone traveller, perched atop the mountains of enchantment, who sees all life as an eternal recurrence and metamorphosis. The love felt by this traveller, half-animal, half-superhuman, for bleak and barren nature makes the eagle and the snake ideal companions. The eagle is proud and the snake is crafty. The eagle is sharp-eyed, defies gravity and dwells among the highest peaks. The snake delivers the kiss of death, changes skin and is acquainted with the entrails of the earth.

Sépànd Danesh thoroughly dissects the figures he presents and, more specifically, the attitudes and emotions of human beings in general. The exhibition is constructed like the genome sequence of individuals along with their quirks and feelings. Sculptures and paintings are populated with strange characters in positions that are easily identifiable, conveying as they do an array of human sentiments.

Mariken Wessels ‘NUDE – Arising from the Ground’

Mariken Wessels ‘NUDE – Arising from the Ground’

THE RAVESTIJN GALLERY, Amsterdam

14 March – 25 April, 2020 

Comprising of sculpture, photography and film, and inspired by a series of Eadweard Muybridge collotypes, Wessels’ most recent work explores the motion of obese bodies and the animalistic aspects of the human form. Nude – Arising From The Ground was partly premiered at Art Rotterdam 2019, but this exhibition aims to give time and space for the entire work to be seen. In autumn 2020, the project will be part of a group show entitled Human After All: Ceramic Reflections in Contemporary Art at Museum Princessehof in Leeuwarden. Other participating artists are Geng Xue, William Cobbing, Klara Kristalova, Kris Lemsalu, Leiko Ikemura, Liliana Porter, Sharon Overmeieren, Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg. Curated by Tanya Rumpff.

Nude Upside Down and Back Again I, 2018
Nude Upside Down and Back Again II, 2018
Nude , Water and Green Leaves II, 2018
Nude , Water and Green Leaves III, 2018
Nude Upside Down and Back Again VII, 2018
Nude Upside Down and Back Again VIII, 2018
Nude , Water and Green Leaves IV, 2018
Model-Stop-Motion I, 2018

Amsterdam-based artist Mariken Wessels (NL, 1963) creates artist’s books, sculptures, installations, photo series and film works. Her multilayered projects offer poignant picture stories,combining appropriated (vernacular) imagery and self-produced images, usually featuring female protagonists struggling with life.

Trisha Baga the eye, the eye and the ear

Trisha Baga

the eye, the eye and the ear

Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan

20 February – 19 July 2020

“the eye, the eye and the ear” is Trisha Baga’s first institutional exhibition in Italy and covers fifteen years of the artist production, from her first piece There’s No “I” in Trisha (2005-2007), conceived as a sort of TV sitcom that questions the gender stereotypes of all the various characters whose roles Trisha Baga plays; to the more recent work 1620 (2020) produced on the occasion of this show. Bringing together five video installations investigating the relationship between the body and the constantly evolving image technology, the exhibition also presents a rich selection of ceramic works produced since 2015 and six pieces from the series Seed Paintings (2017), composed of sesame seeds and foam.


Trisha Baga (born in 1985 in Venice, Florida, currently lives and works in New York City), an American of Filipino origin, is one of the most innovative video-makers of her generation, combining different languages and other media, drawing from television and film imagery along with home movies. She grapples with such themes as gender identity, relations between the real and the digital world as well as technological evolution, in order to disclose a different perspective of our contemporary imagination.
The exhibition meanders through the various media, which have characterized Trisha Baga’s career, ranging from VHS cassettes and DVDs to 3D devices, and is deeply rooted in her performative practice. Visitors are invited to experience the entire show wearing 3D glasses, in an immersive environment which expands the physical space through numerous visual and sound layers.


The show’s display hints at the aesthetics commonly found in natural history museums, not only in its style of presentation, but also by using an unusual classification system that intertwines the idea of the fossil with high-tech devices such as today’s virtual personal assistants, thus creating a sort of temporal short-circuit. Through her ironical and witty perspective Trisha Baga focuses on the excessive reliance and hopes we put on technology, staging in her work its most fragile and failing aspects.
A number of international institutions have hosted this artist’s solo shows, including Gallery TPW, Toronto (2018); CCC, Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard College, Cambridge (2017); 356 Mission Road, Los Angeles (2015); Zabludowicz Collection, London (2014); Peep-Hole, Milan (2013); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Kunstverein München, Munich (2012). Her works have also been presented in many group exhibitions and other events, such as at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles (2018); Aïshti Foundation, Beirut (2017); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Biennial of Moving Images, Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève, Geneva, Folkwang Museum, Essen, Manifesta 11, Zurich (2016); Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris (2015); Center for Performance Research, New York (2010).

TONY LEWIS THE DANGERS (AS FAR AS I CAN SEE)

TONY LEWIS

THE DANGERS (AS FAR AS I CAN SEE)

Massimo De Carlo Gallery, MILAN / BELGIOIOSO

until 28.03.2020

“What is Dangerous here is a turning away from…the turning away from…anything any white American says…but I don’t know, and neither does Martin Luther King- none of us know- how to deal with those other people… who don’t believe anything the white world says, and don’t entirely believe anything I or Martin say.”
– James Baldwin

Tony Lewis’ practice focuses on the convergence of semiotics, abstraction and drawing: graphite pencil and paper are the mediums the artist uses to trace and create linguistic narratives and reflections on gestural expression. For this exhibition, the artist is presenting a new body of work that is composed of a series of drawings, seemingly simple abstractions, which conceal intricate narratives, based on a nine-year examination of William F. Buckley Jr.’s argument from his famous 1965 debate with James Baldwin.

The Debate between the author and literary ambassador for American civil rights Baldwin and one of The Godfather’s of modern American conservatism Buckley, which took place at the Cambridge Union, was a crucial contest in the fight over civil rights: the proposition before the house was “The American Dream at the Expense of the American Negro.” Enshrined on YouTube and in countless documentaries, the battle remains an uncanny exchange.

The Transcript and video documentation of Buckley’s argument is the source material the artist revisits cyclically. The Dangers takes its title directly from Buckley himself:

“…where the negro is concerned, the dangers as far as I can see at this moment, are that they will seek out for some sort of a radical solution on the basis of which the true problem is obscure.”

The large-scale works showcased in The Dangers are the trace of the evolution of Tony Lewis’ investigation on abstraction as well as figuration as a means of communication. Prompted by the words of James Baldwin stated above, Lewis performs the notion of “turning away from” by actively challenging his natural impulse, and listening to Buckley’s language, thesis, and rhetorical strategies.

Lastly, The large graphite on paper sculptures the artist refers to as “floor drawings” have been activated throughout the exhibition to perform the act of listening to Buckley’s argument, as well as embody the discomfort and inevitable distortion of a physical body after years of listening.


PUBLICATION LISTED IN THE ITALIAN PRESS REGISTER BY THE SASSARI COURT OF LAW WITH REGISTRATION NUMBER 447/2017.
EDITOR IN CHIEF: ALICE ZUCCA

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