Georg Baselitz / Years Later

Georg Baselitz / Years Later

Gagosian, Hong Kong

Thu 21 May 2020 to Sat 8 Aug 2020

An early pioneer of the Neo-Expressionist movement that had its origins in postwar Germany, Baselitz combines a vigorous and direct approach to art making with a sensitivity to art historical lineages. He counts Willem de Kooning and Philip Guston among his key influences, and is known for his uncompromising approach and critical stance. In 1969, he began to compose his images upside down to slow the processes of making, looking, and comprehending. Over the past fifty years, often referring to and reinterpreting his own body of work, he has further augmented his visual language with a range of formal and historical allusions yet has consistently returned to the human figure as his central motif.

Georg Baselitz – Da sind zwei Figuren im alten Stil (That’s two figures in the old style)
2019, Oil and painter’s gold varnish on canvas; 300 x 212 cm
© Georg Baselitz. Photo: Jochen Littkemann. Courtesy Gagosian.

This exhibition is focused on a set of thirteen large oil paintings that Baselitz made using a “contact-printing” technique related to the one applied in his series, What if… (2019), which was exhibited at Gagosian San Francisco earlier this year. To create each new black-and-gold painting he uses a stencil to render inverted figures on blank canvas, painting just the panel’s background to generate bold negative silhouettes. Against this ground he presses a black canvas, lifting this second support to produce an image distinguished by a slightly softer look than those made more directly. The hybrid result not only stresses medium over image, but is also distinguished by an element of unpredictability that bespeaks freedom and vitality. In a single painting in pink, the figures are rendered without a stencil as positive images.

Georg Baselitz – Madame Demoisielle weit weg von der Küste (Madame Demoiselle a long way from the coast) – 2019, Oil on canvas, 302 x 427 cm
© Georg Baselitz. Photo: Jochen Littkemann. Courtesy Gagosian.

With part of their material substance surrendered to the transfer technique, the works in Years later incorporate a palpable sense of organic change and variation; they juxtapose traces of Baselitz’s haptic intervention with marks derived specifically from the contact-printing process. This lends their surfaces a specific tension, while the play of subtle similarities and differences from one panel to the next adds a dynamic rhythm to the series as a whole—a nod to the idea of the human frame in motion. As one image begets another, the figures become less and less distinct and gradually merge with their backgrounds, dissolving subject into context, humanity into reality at large. In these paintings, the dark, chaotic nature of this reality finds its full expression.

Installation view – © Georg Baselitz. Photo: Martin Wong

A fully illustrated catalogue with a foreword by Zeng Fanzhi and an essay by Lu Mingjun will accompany the exhibition.

A Note to the visitors:
The gallery will reopen in compliance with the Hong Kong government’s health guidelines regarding social distancing and visitor and staff protection.





From May 23 until August 31, 2019

Massimo De Carlo announces McArthur Binion’s first exhibition in Asia. The Hong Kong presentation will be presented jointly with Lehmann Maupin, which will be opening simultaneously in both their Hong Kong and Seoul galleries. Spanning all three spaces, these joint exhibitions present an unprecedented opportunity to view new work by the 72-year-old American artist who has been garnering increasing international attention. Throughout his fifty-year practice of assemblage painting, Binion has continually defied classification as an artist. Terms such as “abstraction” and “minimalism” has often been employed as a descriptors for his large scale paintings, however Binion himself resists such rigid categorisations of his work. Through his rich and tumultuous career, Binion has developed an incredibly complex practice, incorporating interwoven personal memories with historical recollection and his experience of America in the past, by layering paint and personal memorabilia onto large-scale canvases.


In the 1970’s, Binion immersed himself within the renowned downtown New York art scene — socializing and working among artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Dan Flavin, Carl Andre and Sol LeWitt.Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, his style evolved from moregestural abstraction to include increasingly pared-down, colorful, and geometric abstraction. Binion’s distinctive insertion of narrative and personal history and his emphasis on content, differentiates his work from the more reductive Minimalist practices of other artists and continues to do so today. In his DNA series, previously shown in Massimo De Carlo London, the artist blends private documents, such as negatives of his birth certificate (which references the situation of many that, like him, were born in rural communities and whose births were never recorded) and hand written pages of his old phone books are covered with layers of painted coloured grids, that conceal and at the same time introduce the narration element of his practice. These works made their international debut in 2017 at the Venice Biennale.


Such use of personal documents asserts Binion’s own existence, whereas the layers of paint encompass the artists’ experience with authority and the art world in America. Insofar, the intricate surfaces of the canvases become abstract shapes and motives: the artist’s archival belongings, that can only be seen when in very close physical proximity to the canvas, are transformed by the paintbrush into weightily textured patterns and reflect the importance of the influence of modernism in McArthur Binion’s practice. In his newest Hand:Work:II paintings, Binion’s usage of his hand is a symbol he repeats across the large canvas. An emblem for his personal touch upon the work, the gesture of the hand also hints at the time- consuming and laborious nature of his practice. The incorporation of his hand indicates the motif as a self- generating subject, veering the Hand:Work:II series into a new conceptual territory, expanding his repertoire to include performative self-portraiture. Additionally, Binion has employed the bold and brightly saturated hues of his earlier paintings in colorful ink washes poured and spread across the photocopied pages of his address books from that period. In recent years, Binion has emerged as an increasingly important artist of his generation, combining the post-minimal embrace of new, commercial grade materials, with a more personalized approach to the austere, formal devices of minimalism, realized through the incorporation of his personal history into these deceptively simple paintings.

Thomas Ruff, Transforming Photography, David Zwirner, Hong Kong

Thomas Ruff, Transforming Photography, David Zwirner, Hong Kong

Thomas Ruff : Transforming Photography
May 22—June 29, 2019
David Zwirner, Hong Kong

David Zwirner presents work by German photographer Thomas Ruff (b. 1958), on view across two floors of the gallery’s Hong Kong location. The exhibition will provide an overview of the artist’s prodigious career, ranging from a seminal early series to two bodies of new work that were initiated in 2018, tripe and flower.s. Ruff rose to international prominence in the late 1980s as a member of the Düsseldorf School, a group of young photographers who studied under Bernd and Hilla Becher at the renowned Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and became known for their experimental approach to the medium and its evolving technological capabilities. Ruff, in particular, made a radical break with the style of his teachers, establishing a distinct approach to conceptual photography through a variety of strategies, including the use of color, the purposeful manipulation of source imagery—originally through manual retouching techniques and eventually through digital methods—and the enlargement of the photographic print to the scale of monumental painting. Working in discrete series, Ruff has since utilized these methods to conduct an in-depth examination of a variety of photographic genres, including portraiture, the nude, landscape, archival, and architectural photography, among others.

Thomas Ruff
STE 1.49 (08h 52m / -60°), 1992
Chromogenic print with Diasec
102 3/8 x 74 inches (260 x 188 cm)

By the end of the twentieth century, digital technologies of reproduction had become prevalent, and the majority of Ruff’s work since that time reflects this transition to a new mode of image construction, distribution, and reception, as evidenced by the works on view. While a number of Ruff’s series from the earlier part of his career similarly eschew the traditional use of a camera—including his Sterne (Stars) photographs (1989–1992), in which he worked with negatives that he acquired from the archive of the European Southern Observatory to print large-scale, nearly abstract starscapes—in several later series the artist goes further to experiment with achieving analog effects through digital means, often without the use of a camera. For example, for tripe (2018–2019), Ruff worked with high-resolution images of paper negatives taken in the 1850s in India and Burma (now Myanmar) by Captain Linnaeus Tripe, an officer in Britain’s East India Company army. Held in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, these negatives represent a nineteenth-century solution for travel photography because they were lighter and more transportable than glass negatives, though they were also more susceptible to aging. Ruff used a computer program to invert these negatives into positive images, then further digitally manipulated them in a manner analogous to hand-retouching, thus highlighting both the subject matter of the images and the analog processes used to create them. Likewise, to create the works in his ongoing phg. series (2012–), Ruff utilizes a custom software program to compose visually complex, illusory arrangements of shapes and colors that resemble the photograms made by the Surrealists in the 1920s by arranging objects on top of light-sensitive paper. For these artists, the ability to make a photographic image without a camera was both radical and experimental, whereas, paradoxically, Ruff’s use of a computer to simulate this process allows the artist a higher degree of control over the final composition.

Thomas Ruff
jpeg ea01, 2007
Chromogenic print with Diasec
98 3/8 x 72 3/4 inches (249.9 x 184.8 cm)

In the newest body of work on view, flower.s (2018–), Ruff uses a combination of digital manipulation and analog techniques to approximate pseudo-solarization (also known as the Sabattier effect), another effect favored by the Surrealists in which light and dark areas of an image are partially transposed during the printing process. To create these works, Ruff first uses a digital camera to photograph flowers or leaves arranged on the surface of a light box, then employs a software program to alter their tonal values. He then prints the resulting image onto aged paper, imbuing the resultant compositions with an old-fashioned feel. Several of the other series presented in the exhibition call attention to the way in which images circulate in the internet era. To create his nudes (1999–), Ruff searches the internet for pornographic images, which he then enlarges, deliberately manipulating the low-resolution files by further blurring the image and sometimes altering their color or removing details. In his Substrate(Substrates; 2001–), Ruff complicates notions of pictorial abstraction. Endeavoring to create a purely abstract photographic image, the artist found that he could do so by blowing up colorful images from Japanese manga cartoons to the point where all identifiable detail is lost, resulting only in psychedelically hued, amorphous forms. The exhibition will also include several images from Ruff’s jpegs (2004–), a number of which will be on view for the first time. To make these works, Ruff sources low-resolution photographic images from the internet, and subsequently digitally manipulates them. Blown up to the scale of traditional nineteenth-century history paintings, these images remain legible yet noticeably blurred, producing an almost painterly effect wherein grids of mechanical pixilation substitute for the expressiveness of a brushstroke, and, like the works of the Impressionists, the full image comes into view only at a distance.

MARC NEWSON / Gagosian Gallery, Hong Kong

May 23–July 27, 2019
Gagosian, Hong Kong

I’m always looking for processes and techniques that are completely anachronistic. I love recontextualizing these things in a modern time.
—Marc Newson

Gagosian HK presents new works by designer Marc Newson. This is Newson’s first exhibition of limited-edition furniture in China. From the outset of his singular career, Newson has pursued parallel activities in limited and mass production of functional design objects. With inspirations ranging from popular culture to traditional crafts from around the world, he approaches design as both an exploratory technical exercise and a process of conceptual, aesthetic, and physical refinement. Employing sculptural principles to address issues of efficiency, luxury, and use value, Newson has produced a broad array of highly crafted objects—watches, footwear, luggage, furniture, transport—upholding the principle that engineering and aesthetics are inseparable. Revisiting his roots as a jeweler and silversmith, in this exhibition Newson explores increasingly rare decorative processes at an unconventionally large, even unprecedented, scale. He has long been drawn to the streamlined, simple beauty of Asian art and design: from his Aikuchi swords made in the renowned Tōhoku region of Japan to, most recently, his furniture created using the ancient technique of Chinese cloisonné—an enameling technique that originated in the eastern Mediterranean more than three thousand years ago and spread to China around the fourteenth century. Although this intricate process is typically used for jewelry, figurines, and vases, Newson oversaw the construction of a massive new kiln in a cloisonné factory outside Beijing that would allow for multiple firings of desks, chairs, and lounges. Blurring the boundaries between sculpture, furniture, and the decorative arts, the resulting works are like jewels expanded to the full scale of the body. They feature Newson’s signature “orgone” pattern, as well as interpretations of traditional Chinese floral motifs, such as large magnolias on a white ground, or cherry blossom branches set against opaque black enamel.

Marc Newson

Marc Newson, Cloisonné Black Blossom Lounge, 2017, cloisonné enamel and copper, 30 × 69 ¾ × 30 ¾ inches (76 × 177 × 78 cm) © Marc Newson. Photo: Xiangzhe Kong. Courtesy Gagosian



The exhibition also includes a selection of Newson’s cast glass chairs. Made in the Czech Republic, these are continuous symmetrical forms comprised of two hollow quarter-spheres. The boldly colored upper halves rest on clear bases, which absorb some of the reflected hues in their clouded interiors, an effect that subtly changes depending on the vantage point. Because both glass and enamel are extremely precarious materials, Newson’s new furniture defies physical odds, necessitating years of experimentation and refinement. However, despite the intensive labor and research involved, the works appear as seamless, polished units—simple forms carrying complex histories of labor, craft, and beauty.

Images > installation view @ Gagosian HK / PH Martin Wong




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