CHIHARU SHIOTA / Inner Universe

CHIHARU SHIOTA / Inner Universe

Templon, Paris – Grenier Saint Lazare

MAY 30 – JULY 25, 2020

This summer, Galerie Templon will be filled with the spectacular woven work of Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota. One onsite installation and a series of new sculptures explore the “Inner Universe” that some may see as the mind, others as consciousness, and which transcends the body, connecting beings to each other.

Chiharu Shiota – State of Being (Anatomy Book)
Courtesy of Galerie Templon.

Famous for her monumental site-specific installations and skilful weaving of thread that spreads through space, Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota has spent years questioning the notion of surface and the traditional boundaries of painting. With Inner Universe, she invites us on a poetic journey examining the secret ties between the finiteness of existence and eternity.

Chiharu Shiota – In the Hand
2020; BRONZE AND METAL WIRE; 13,5 X 21,5 X 29,5 CM

Courtesy of Galerie Templon.

Inner Universe opens with a series of her signature sculptures of red, white and black threads. The mysterious boxes deconstruct our conception of the body: levitating clothes, anatomy books, personal belongings. As if crystallized in these tight weavings, they bear witness to everyday life while raising universal, metaphysical questions. As the artist explains: “the thread separates us from this physical presence within the object, but at the same time, this structure allows me to create a new space. Piling up layer after layer of cut, tangled and knotted thread creates the entirety of the universe bound to this frame.”

Chiharu Shiota – In the Hand
2020; BRONZE AND METAL WIRE – Courtesy of Galerie Templon.

This palpable detachment from earthly life is countered by a new set of sculptures made of imperishable materials. Blown-glass Cells suggest almost abstract forms of cells and organs bursting with life, while the In the Hand bronzes, moulds of her own hands, seem to bring the material alive. On the walls, her woven Skin canvases cover the space with skin that is both microscopic and cosmic.

Chiharu Shiota – Cell
2020; MIXED MEDIA; 36 X 36 X 36 CM – Courtesy of Galerie Templon

In the main room, some bronze sculptures representing parts of the artist family’s bodies are placed on the floor. “I want to scatter pieces of my relative’s body on the ground; their absence is thus embodied, and each of these parts evokes much more than an entire body could ever do.” Chiharu Shiota thus seeks to give us a glimpse of the complex relationships between beings and the potentially eternal interdependence of consciousnesses.

Chiharu Shiota – Cell
2020; MIXED MEDIA; 20 X 30 X 23 CM – Courtesy of Galerie Templon

Born in Osaka, Japan, in 1972, Chiharu Shiota has been living and working in Berlin since 1999. After a degree in painting at Seika university in Kyoto, Chiharu Shiota turned to performance and pursued her artistic studies in Berlin. Chiharu Shiota is an internationally renowned artist whose work has been exhibited for twenty years. She represented Japan at the 2015 Venice Biennale. Her work has been the subject of numerous museum solo exhibitions including: in 2017, Infinity Lines, SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, Georgia (USA), Under the Skin, Kunsthalle Rostock, Rostock (Germany) and Direction, KODE-Art Museums of Bergen, Bergen (Norway); in 2018, The Butterfly Dream, Museum of Kyoto (Japan), The Distance, Gothenburg Museum of Art, Gothenburg (Sweden), Embodied, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide (Australia) and Where are we going?, Le Bon Marché, Paris (France), and in 2019, Beyond Memory, Gropius Bau, Berlin (Germany) and The Soul Trembles, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (Japan).

Gabriel Rico / Nature Loves to hide

Gabriel Rico / Nature Loves to hide

Perrotin, Paris.

May 23 – August 14, 2020

Gabriel Rico’s formulas are brief and precise expressions to make, solve or achieve something concrete. Thus, they are processes helping to resolve problems or carry out tasks with a series of symbols and rules.
The big difference between mathematical formulas and Rico’s is that our artist’s symbols are “things”; objects steeped in value for being real by their very nature. Therefore, these applications are not intended to be a symbolic or abstract representation of a real being but the synthesis or fusion of things that exist on the material plane. Here, we are reversing the raditional process of representation, experimenting with absurd procedures, then, instead of ignoring reality, taking the physical nature of these objects and combining them to see what happens.

Who reckons the close of his life among the boons of the nature? (The Jealous God),
2018; 75 × 190 × 340 cm; Coyote, petrified wood, wire, plastic hand, glass bottle, ceramic, volcanic stone, sponge, neon, mirror, brass – Courtesy of Perrotin and the artist.

Perrotin presents Gabriel Rico’s Nature Loves to Hide. Thirteen works are installed across four gallery spaces, hosting two wall installations, seven assemblages with a strong sculptural element and a mural packed with “formulas” arranged across a vast wall. Together, these works form an experience of delirium and dialectical tension. Unlike the direct abstraction we form when establishing the overall meaning of something, and contrary to the “clarity” of the identity principle which defines an object based on the images we associate with it, these operations are fundamentally visual – the synthesis of objects that do not evoke a conventional image but, first and foremost, a simple material presence.

GABRIEL RICO – To be Preserved without scandal and corruption
2020; 436 × 120 × 300 cm; Volcanic stone, rope, taxidermy axis deer, fiberglass column
Courtesy of Perrotin and the artist.

For example, the II Mural piece presents a series of commonplace objects and a handful of arrows (similar to the if and only if arrows in positional logic) pictured on the white expanse of the wall. The link between these volumes and the graphite symbols is puzzling. And though we cannot clearly decipher his general codes, they are nonetheless eloquent and intuitively legible. A Husserlian épochè is at play where the material nature and physical force of “things” manifests without intervention. The symbols of if and only if are logical connectives more difficult to assimilate and connect with colloquial language. Here, they serve to make “connections” between the objects, linking these products and suggesting a certain type of value. In reality, there is no logical–rational meaning and they produce only the effect of absurd connection. Shaped by the same principles is XXVI – More robust nature… more robust geometry which presents three parts: a stone, a small round cover in rusty tin and a crooked tree branch which are linked by a neon light running along the edge and unifying the items. The fluorescent gleam passes through each of these objects, ultimately connecting them.

GABRIEL RICO – II Mural, from the series –Reducción objetiva orquestada (2016 – 2021)
2020; 350 × 400 × 17 cm; Mixed media, brass, neon – Courtesy of Perrotin and the artist.

We also have works such as Unity & Uniformity (La Mitla de hérétiques) where more than 200 roughly hewn brass plates are arranged in a space approximately three meters in diameter, representing the fullscale feathers of Mesoamerican birds. The structure presents a regular pattern that repeats and multiplies over and over, thus creating a perfect visual texture. Interestingly, of these feathers arranged on the wall, only two are from real birds. Despite the color and material contrast between the roughly hewn metal and the real feathers, the oppositional effect is almost imperceptible owing to the scale of the ensemble. This playful touch forces us to question the powerful landscape produced by the artificial sheets and appreciate the uniqueness of a pair of natural keratin feathers.

GABRIEL RICO – II from the series – Unity & Uniformity (La Mitla des hérétiques)
2020; 320 × 325 cm; Feathers, brass – Courtesy of Perrotin and the artist.

To conclude these descriptions, we have one of the large-scale installations entitled Crudelitatem (I will say the Romans that spread upon the world but it was the world that spread upon the Romans). This large piece is full of marble sand which covers the entire expanse of one of the gallery’s rooms. In the center of this arid landscape rises the trunk of a withered fiberglass tree with a bee’s honeycomb in traditional ceramic suspended from a single, rickety side branch. With a series of cylindrical rings with varying radii, the honeycomb overflows with abundant honey which trickles down and drips, thus bathing the human skull at the foot of the tree with succulent sweetness. It appears as though the dead man finally stopped to receive the food he had long waited for.
The cryptic sense of this visual fable is effective, causing amusement
and a wicked exasperation. This installation functions like a dark tale that
confronts us at the denouement with our own mortality but not before
offering an absurd and sickly sweet reward.

GABRIEL RICO – Crudelitatem (I will say the romans that spread upon the world but it was the world that spread upon the romans).
2016/2020; 195 × 330 × 412 cm; Ceramic, fiberglass, sand. – Courtesy of Perrotin and the artist

If language is a formalized system of signs creating all manner of interactions, then this is the socialization tool we have to communicate and generally learn. To make this possible, it is first vital that it operate according to strict rules and general codes. However, this does not always happen as expressions emerge that break with logical order.
Psychoanalysis and surrealism have explored symbolic applications that develop according to more complex and playful connections.

Contemporary hermeneutics, especially the interpretations triggered by French post-structuralism, offer plenty with which to interpret these “figures” so they need not remain in a dark and indecipherable place. Somehow, the right questions emerge to challenge this type of construction. Thus, there are QUESTIONS that rebuke from an unusual perspective and
give unique meaning to these products. These are the questions asked
by Gabriel Rico in this exhibition for Perrotin Paris.

Patrick Charpenel, Executive Director of Museo del Barrio, New York

Gabriel Rico lives and works in Guadalajara. He studied at the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente, Guadalajara.

Recent exhibitions have taken place at: The Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, USA (2019), The group exhibition May You Live In Interesting Times, Venice Biennial, Italy (2019), the Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, the Power Station, Dallas (both 2017); Gyeonggi Creation Center, Ansan-do, South Korea, Fundación Calosa, Irapuato, Mexico (both 2016); MAZ Zapopan Art Museum, Mexico, Korea Ceramic Foundation, Seoul, Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice (all 2015); and Ex-Escuela de Cristo, Aguascalientes, Mexico (2014).

XU ZHEN® at James Cohan Gallery

XU ZHEN® at James Cohan Gallery

James Cohan Gallery, New York

29 of April – 30 June 2020

Xu Zhen is an artist who is keenly interested in hybridizing East with West, forging bonds through visual culture while also questioning the easy commodification of icons.

Xu Zhen, Madein company – European Thousand-armes classical sculpture
2014, Glass fiber reinforced concrete, marble, metal, 304 x 1470 x 473 cm
Credit: Madein Company/Xu Zhen – Photo by Thomas Fuesser

When viewed from the front, this procession of classical European sculptures creates the illusion of a many-armed Buddhist image of the Thousand-Armed Guanyin, the bodhisattva of compassion. This visual hybrid fuses together the great artistic and cultural traditions of east and west, exploring the way in which these cultures collide and how new forms can be created through exchange.

2019; Bronze, paint; 207 x 69.8 x 59.7 cm – Courtesy of James Cohan Gallery

“I’m interested in the misunderstandings that can be created between East and West. How sometimes, when they confront one another, one cannot convince the other of its position and vice versa. It’s all about the viewer’s experience and background, and all the misunderstandings that can create.”
-Xu Zhen

Xu Zhen – “HELLO”
2018 – 2019; Robotic mechanisms, styrofoam, polyurethane foam, silicone paint, sensors, electronic controls; 350 x 600 x 600 cm – Courtesy of James Cohan Gallery.

The Corinthian column first created in ancient Greece has become a symbol of power, prestige and western civilisation. In “Hello,” a kinetic column has come alive, taking the form of a snake, as it ominously watches and follows visitors move through the gallery. Meeting the sculpture’s gaze, the visitor is confronted with a dark void.

2014; Glass fiber-reinforced concrete, marble grains, sandstone grains, mineral pigments, steel; 355.0 x 91.0 x 91.0 cm – Courtesy of James Cohan Gallery.

Born after Mao’s Cultural Revolution and amidst the reforms of Deng Xiaoping, Xu scrutinizes China’s role in an increasingly globalized economy. Unlike artists of an older generation, he is less focused on the overtly political and instead examines the relentless capitalistic urge which pervades so much of Chinese society.

As Xu Zhen remarked, “Nowadays, people believe in things by buying them.”

Xu Zhen – UNDER HEAVEN – 20180927, 2018
Oil on canvas, aluminum; 60 x 80 x 13 cm – Courtesy of James Cohan Gallery

Xu Zhen achieves the sumptuous surfaces of the Under Heaven series by applying oil paint to the canvas with pastry-decorating bags. Exploring the idea of desire, consumption and cultural production, these paintings tempt the viewer with their luxurious surfaces and color palette. These works are an ironic take on the large-scale, abstract paintings popular in the contemporary art market.

Xu Zhen – UNDER HEAVEN — 2808TR1601, 2016
Oil on canvas, aluminum; 180.0 x 14.0 cm – Courtesy of James Cohan.

As an observer of many cultures, Xu Zhen combs the internet for rich source material. The internet, a place where everyone is talking and no one is listening, provides opportunities for collision and unexpected inspiration. In the Metal Language works, Xu Zhen pulls phrases from the internet and political cartoons and places them in direct dialogue with one another.

2019; Mirror finished stainless steel, metal chains; 120 x 220 cm
Courtesy of James Cohan Gallery.

“It is hard to define an artist as someone who just produces artworks. They are perhaps someone who changes the way people think.”
-Xu Zhen

The National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, has organized XU ZHEN ®: Eternity vs Evolution, the artist’s first major solo exhibition in Australia with the support of the White Rabbit Collection, Sydney. James Cohan would like to thank the National Gallery of Australia for organizing the exhibition.

The online viewing room is a selection of available works based on the museum’s exhibition.

Alex Anderson: Little Black Boy Makes Imperial Porcelains

Alex Anderson: Little Black Boy Makes Imperial Porcelains

Gavlak, Los Angeles

Until 11 Jun 2020

At the core of Anderson’s current body of work is a philosophical, existential examination of identity politics; based in Los Angeles, the 30-year old gay, Asian-African American sculptor is an artist working against stereotype and racialism rapant in today’s society. By working in an unexpected medium and channeling methodologies surrounding artistic production in ceramic arts, Anderson manages to create fantastic, multifaceted sculptures that are both subversive and whimsical at the same time. Alex Anderson uses the classical aesthetics of western power, which ironically share space with the aesthetics of queer camp cultural production, to translate the structures that govern his lived experience in society and others’ social perceptions of his identities into form. While his work engages with the ceramic canon and draws from the western art historical canon at large, it primarily operates at the core of Post-Blackness.

Anderson’s method of production directly corresponds with current aesthetic and artistic practices and ideologies surrounding theories of Post-Black art. Working at the intersection of identity politics and aesthetic empowerment, Anderson’s ceramic creations appear charming and playful, but their frivolity is only glaze-deep. The artist’s work layers conceptions about blackness, masculinity, and perception, folding them onto one another until they become inextricably fused together, reciprocating the merging of his own personal lived experiences, historical inheritance, and conscious self-awareness as his artistic point of departure. 

Criticality, political derision, and gender politics all become relevant schematics for Anderson’s sculptural oeuvre. Each of his identities has a history of marginalization, received violence, and fetishization and a contemporary story of their rise to power through assimilation and mastery of the white, western systems that continue to mediate society today. His work gives form to the realities, stereotypes, and social perceptions of each identity he lives and the complex aporic spaces they create between one another. Anderson seeks to create a metaphorical world of objects that distills his understanding of what it means and how it feels to live at the intersection of identities, and his resultative place in the contemporary social world.

The idea of blackness as a concept and culture in its own right also informs how the artist engages with the other identities that comprise his larger self. The freedom of not having to confine his content into a narrow, deterministic view of what the art of a certain identity looks like also extends to the manner in which he is able to express his Asian and gay identities in his practice.

Anderson lives in a black body, complicated by its containment of the African-American, Japanese, and gay identity politics respective to his multifarious backgrounds. Each of these identities has a history of marginalization, received violence, and fetishization; all of the artist’s inner selves represents a contemporary story of their rise to power through assimilation and mastery of the white, western systems that continue to mediate society today. Anderson’s ceramic sculptures give form to the realities, stereotypes, and social perceptions of each of his  identities and the complex aporic spaces they create between one another.

These aforementioned social structures take literal form in the physical structures of Anderson’s work. The white and gold leitmotif and the visual language of Western, European Baroque luxury guides the format the artist employs to express his content. There are both human and inanimate components in each of his sculptures. Anything we can perceive as being alive in each work navigates a rigid, severely perfectionist, white, opulent, and superficially beautiful system grounded in the histories of Western power as a parallel to the artist’s engagement with the structurally white world we all occupy. These forms and the ceramic medium itself index to the early imperialism that created the social, cultural and political constructs we continue to navigate today. Imperialist nations traded ceramics sourced from Asia the same way they traded African slaves;  these objects were ultimately consumed by the elite and aristocratic Europeans who today embody the visual affect of femininity, gayness and camp. The work is intersectional and implacable in any specific world other than the one created by Anderson’s position as an artist. Subscribing to the Bourdieusian theory that art is the practice of artists taking unique positions in history, Anderson posits his own identity and experience in relation to a greater social whole. Bourdieu’s work was primarily concerned with the dynamics of power in society, especially the diverse and subtle ways in which power is transferred and social order is maintained within and across generations. In conscious opposition to the idealist tradition of much of Western philosophy, his work often emphasized the corporeal nature of social life and stressed the role of practice and embodiment in social dynamics. Anderson, as a post-black, post-Civil Rights artist continues his ancestral tradition of challenging the defamatory and injust, white patriarchal systems he currently inhabits in order to occupy and subvert them in a way that leaves an undeniable mark on contemporary, visual art.

The larger Post-Black canon allows for his work to begin to establish itself as a unique position that speaks to his own truth, offering one perspective of the multivalent experience of contemporary black hybridity. As curator at the museum and author of the Freestyle exhibition catalogue essay most famous for its assertion that: “Post-Black is the new Black;” Thelma Golden provides a definitive culturally-sound initiative for Post-Black artists: art as that which includes artists who are “adamant about not being labeled ‘black’ artists, though their work was steeped, in fact deeply interested, in redefining complex notions of blackness.” She continued, “They are both post-Basquiat and post-Biggie. They embrace the dichotomies of high and low, inside and outside, tradition and innovation, with a great ease and facility.” 

In this vein, Anderson’s  work acknowledges histories of adversity and mobility, but ultimately asks and attempts to offer an answer to the question “so, now what?” “What are we now that we can access the heights of a society seeped in not only black, but also Asian and gay blood, built to disenfranchise us?” The answer his work offers is that he is what he calls ‘an interloper:’ a staid, but uninvited presence in white society positioned by privilege and the social commodities that counter the negative social positioning his identities invite within our social paradigm. Imagery once used to deride takes re-contextualized form as culturally conceptual symbols and signs that comment on the imagery itself and its social context. Anderson’s  chosen content and visual aspect tends toward absurdity to the extreme, in order to reflect the social dogmas of his lived experience. Each work is an instantiated approach to saying, “This is what it’s like. And so is this. And so is this.” 

Images > Alex Anderson: Little Black Boy Makes Imperial Porcelains installation views, Courtesy Gavlak, Los Angeles

PENNY GORING Escape from Blood Castle

PENNY GORING Escape from Blood Castle

Campoli Presti, Paris

until 14 July 2020

Campoli Presti presents Escape from Blood Castle, Penny Goring’s first exhibition with the gallery. A series of drawings, paintings, sculptures and videos respond to personal and universal traumas such as grief, violence, addiction, ageing, chronic pain and fear, increasingly exacerbated by the incessant expansion of economic relations into our private realm. The exhibition title evokes a “solve it yourself” puzzle adventure book from the 80s and the impossibility to think our experiences outside capitalist terms.

Goring’s drawings and paintings are based on autobiographical experiences yet reference symbolist traditions within her own gloomy, girlish universe. Her “Art Hell” drawings expand on recurrent motifs such as malevolent landscapes, anthropomorphic flowers, scatological weeping and the double figure of Penny and Amelia, an ex-lover who died young from a heroin overdose. In her paintings, precision is key: flat backgrounds become fields of colour, trapping dismembered or distorted female figures at various stages of attempted escape.

Installation view Courtesy of the artist and Campoli Presti London/Paris.
Installation view Courtesy of the artist and Campoli Presti London/Paris.
Penny Goring
Grief Doll, 2019
126 x 35.5 x 21 cm / 49.6 x 14 x 8.3 inches

Made with fabric and vintage thread, all sewn by hand, Goring’s doll sculptures reference, amongst other things, children’s imagery and our attachment to transitional objects. The dolls of Escape from Blood Castle are manifestly marked by their damage, amputation, and mending, referencing the body as a receptacle and target for trauma and suffering.

Installation view Courtesy of the artist and Campoli Presti London/Paris.
Installation view Courtesy of the artist and Campoli Presti London/Paris.

The poem Escape from Blood Castle continues Goring’s raw, confrontational style, and operates as a marker for the exhibition itself. The juxtaposition between the text, the videos, the works’ titles and their reappearing motifs recall the arrangement of her works online, in which all her media perform without hierarchies, resisting strategy.

Bleedy Doll, 2019
165 x 44 x 12 cm / 65 x 17.3 x 4.7 inches

Penny Goring (born 1962 in London, UK) graduated in 1994 from Kingston School of Art in London with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art (Painting). Goring makes drawings, paintings, sculptures, videos, and poems that access recurring personal trauma visions, and by layering these with grief, anxiety, imagination and rage, the subsequent invented mythologies become explorations of the contemporary state of emergency – where violence is commonplace, structural, intimate, where loss of freedoms is forgotten or keenly lamented, and there is no rescue or escape. Goring has exhibited at, amongst others, ICA, London;; Tate St. Ives; Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw;; South London Gallery and Arcadia Missa, London. Goring lives and works in London.

Sarah Sze at Gagosian Paris

Sarah Sze at Gagosian Paris

Gagosian, Paris

Sat 23 May 2020 to Sat 18 Jul 2020

Sculpture spills from its edge into the world in this very complex way that isn’t bound by the frame. In painting, the world spills into the frame, and sometimes we confuse that frame with the world.
—Sarah Sze

Sarah Sze – Ripple (Times Zero)
2020; Oil, acrylic, acrylic polymers, ink, aluminum, archival paper, oil stick, pencil, graphite, string, pushpin, diabond, and wood; 289.6 × 362 cm – © Sarah Sze. Photo: Rob McKeever

Gagosian is presenting new works by Sarah Sze and this is her first solo exhibition in Paris since her presentation at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain more than two decades ago.

A peerless bricoleur, Sze gleans objects and images from worlds both physical and digital, assembling them into complex multimedia installations that prompt microscopic observation while evoking a macroscopic perspective on the infinite. In recent years she has returned to painting—the medium in which she first trained—producing works that translate her processes of sculptural accumulation into the making of collaged paintings that are detailed, dynamic, and highly textural.

Sarah Sze – Plein Air (Times Zero); 2020 (detail)
Mixed media, including wood, stainless steel, video projectors, archival paper, toothpicks, clamps, ruler, and tripods, installation dimensions variable – © Sarah Sze

Just as the postwar affichistes elevated the accumulated visual grit of everyday urban life to the status of a painting, Sze’s large-scale panel paintings collapse multiple forms of picture making into an intricate but unified visual language. In some, photographic scraps are torn and visibly taped to the surfaces, resulting in abstracted tableaux that conjure pixelation while retaining the aura of the analog and the handmade. Sze layers paint over and under these jagged paper geometries, weaving them into each composition in sweeping arcs, thrumming lines, and shimmering gradients. In others, the textures are pure trompe l’oeil, achieved solely through photographic collage.

Sarah Sze – Blind Spot (Times Zero)
2020; Oil, acrylic, acrylic polymers, ink, aluminum, diabond, and wood; 262.3 × 327.7 cm.
© Sarah Sze. Photo: Rob McKeever

In a series of four small paintings partly inspired by Piet Mondrian’s phasing of a tree motif into total abstraction, Sze begins with a seed image: a manipulated digital photograph of one of her previous paintings or sculptures, which then becomes the foundation for a new work. In this generative and recursive process, decisions made in one composition resonate in connected visual constellations that either persist or decay with the passage of time.

Sarah Sze – Poke (Times Zero)
2020; Oil, acrylic, acrylic polymers, ink, aluminum, archival paper, graphite, diabond, and wood, 187.3 × 124.8 cm – © Sarah Sze. Photo: Rob McKeever

Alongside these new paintings, Sze presents a new multimedia installation entitled Plein Air (Times Zero) (2020), a reference to French Impressionist painting that describes her own earliest forays into the medium in her formative years. Citing the Russian Constructivist notion of the “kiosk” as a key inspiration, the installation is conceived as a portable station for the interchange of images and the exchange of information. Plein Air (Times Zero) combines intricate assemblage and video projection, functioning as a kind of tool or portal that pulls images from the world and presents them in the gallery space in a transformed state. Thus, moving and static images are enmeshed with sculpture and architecture in a loop that conflates input and output, production and consumption.

Sarah Sze – Picture Perfect (Times Zero)
2020; Oil, acrylic, acrylic polymers, ink, aluminum, archival paper, graphite, diabond, and wood; 215.9 × 327.7 cm – © Sarah Sze. Photo: Rob McKeever

Also on view is Double Wishbone (2020), a barely there sculpture comprised of delicate steel chains linked with “pure paint,” Sze’s term for a ribbon of dried paint that is the autonomous trace of her process. Suspended in the stairwell of the Paris gallery, with other iterations dispersed around the space casting faint shadows, Double Wishbone invokes Marcel Duchamp’s Hat Rack (1917/1964) as well as his concept of inframince—conjured by a pane of painted glass seen from the unpainted side, or the smell of cigarette smoke mingling with that of the mouth exhaling it.

Sarah Sze – Quartet (Mondrian Suite)
2019; Oil, acrylic, acrylic polymers, ink, aluminum, archival paper, graphite, diabond, and wood, in 4 parts, overall dimensions variable – © Sarah Sze. Photo: Rob McKeever

This year, the Public Art Fund commissioned Sze to create a permanent large-scale artwork at LaGuardia Airport, New York. In December the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris will present her second solo exhibition of new work. She is also preparing a solo exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

Writing Beyond at Axel Vervoordt Gallery

Writing Beyond at Axel Vervoordt Gallery

Axel Vervoordt Gallery, Antwerp

Sat 16 May 2020 to Sat 29 Aug 2020

Axel Vervoordt presents a new exhibition at Kanaal, titled “Writing Beyond”. On view are works by seventeen artists selected for how their work examines materiality and the exploration of intuition, energy, and consciousness. “The exhibition analyzes how artists give form to something that cannot be expressed by words alone,” says Axel. “Art is born when, at the moment of creation, the energy is stronger than the voluntary act of the artist and created in a moment of total freedom.”

Exhibition view – © Axel Vervoordt Gallery – Jan Liégeois

The exhibition is particularly prescient given today’s current global pandemic as lockdowns have resulted in moments of isolation, introspection, and questioning. These works express how art may propose solutions through self-actualisation and energetic expression.

The exhibition is installed in the spaces at Kanaal known as Henro and Ma-ka, which were designed by architect Tatsuro Miki and Axel Vervoordt according to principles of sacred geometry.

Exhibition view – © Axel Vervoordt Gallery – Jan Liégeois

The exhibition includes work by Ida Barbarigo, Raimund Girke, Sadaharu Horio, Tsuyoshi Maekawa, Masatoshi Masanobu, Henri Michaux, Yuko Nasaka, Hermann Nitsch, Roman Opalka, Niki de Saint Phalle, Park Seo-Bo, Dominique Stroobant, Kazuo Shiraga, Bosco Sodi, Antoni Tàpies, Günther Uecker, and Jef Verheyen. The exhibition also features a selection of objects, including a 19th-century Gongshi or ‘Dream Stone’, a 12th-century seated wooden Lohan, and a South-Australian Tjuringa.

Exhibition view – © Axel Vervoordt Gallery – Jan Liégeois

Exhibition Origins

It’s generally accepted that we refer to ‘history’, as the Greek ‘historia’, from the moment that written documentation is available. All events occurring before written records are considered ‘prehistory’, although it’s sometimes difficult to make strict distinctions between proto-writings and true writings. Sumerian cuneiform tablets and Egyptian hieroglyphs are considered to be the earliest forms of true writing systems in which linguistic expression is encoded so that readers may understand the content.

Exhibition view – © Axel Vervoordt Gallery – Jan Liégeois

Throughout history, every civilisation has developed its respective language and writing, which evolved from a pictorial writing system to a phonetical system with letters, words, or symbols, and the use of a large variety of complicated grammatical rules. Writing allows societies to transmit information and share knowledge. The greatest benefit of writing is that it provides the tool by which society can record information consistently and in greater detail, something that could not be achieved as well previously by spoken word.

Exhibition view – © Axel Vervoordt Gallery – Jan Liégeois

This exhibition explores how an artist’s specific visual language reflects their internal writing system—a sense of ‘automatic writing’—while at the same time going beyond writing. While curating the works selected for installation, Axel stated, “Artists have the unique ability to follow their intuitive feelings to express cosmic energy. They materialise what cannot be written. It goes beyond our understanding of writing.”

Michel Pérez Pollo: PERFUME

Michel Pérez Pollo: PERFUME

Mai 36 Galerie, Zürich

Fri 15 May 2020 to Sat 8 Aug 2020

Mai 36 Galerie presents new paintings by Michel Pérez Pollo in a third solo exhibition of his works.

Michel Pérez Pollo, Perfume VI
2019; oil on canvas; 199 x 199 cm – Courtesy of Mai 36 Galerie

The exhibition at Mai 36 Galerie presents the new series PERFUME, in which Michel Pérez Pollo explores the formal and conceptual characteristics of the perfume bottle cap as a medium of pleasure and beauty and, in doing so, combines the physical object with its specific and expressionistic style. The resulting figurative situations and the objects portrayed within the image space take on a surreal and at the same time poetic effect.

Michel Pérez Pollo: PERFUME – Exhibition view, courtesy of Mai 36 Galerie

Perfume, defined as an alcohol-based liquid containing fragrant essential oils and aroma compounds, implies a permeative and long-lasting scent that can conjure intense and unforgettable memories in the human mind. On this basis, Pérez Pollo’s new series forges a connection between the aspects of beauty, scent and inherent recall, and makes a serially produced object – the decorative cap of a perfume bottle – the focal point. It is a kitsch object. The artist calls this into question by putting it through the artistic process of sketching and modelling until eventually a sculpture is created that defines the object somewhere between the exaggerated and the monumental.

Michel Pérez Pollo, Perfume VII
2019; oil canvas; 189 x 190 cm; Courtesy of Mai 36 Galerie

On viewing the scale of the work, the relationship between the motivic and the organic reveals itself through the exploration of both the olfactory and the visual, whereby the inherently subtle connection between nature and perfume becomes visible. Pollo’s painting thus represents reflection on a level that goes beyond the formal characteristics of the perfume bottle.

Michel Pérez Pollo, Perfume IV
2019; oil on canvas; 199 x 199 cm; Courtesy of Mai 36 Galerie

Michel Pérez Pollo (born 1981 in Manzanillo/Cuba, currently living and working in Madrid) studied at the Escuela Profesional De Artes Plásticas in Holguín and at the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana. His works are exhibited internationally and were recently presented in the 2019 solo exhibition MARMOR at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana.


A METHOD OF A CLOAK Erica Baum’s first solo exhibition with KLEMM’S in Berlin

Klemm’s, Berlin

Until 13 June, 2020

Fascinated by the printed word, concrete poetry, and the beauty of language permeating our daily lives, the American artist Erica Baum could be best described as a “poet-photographer”.

She has become internationally known for her photographic practice based on found texts and images. With her reflected, nonchalant use of strategies akin to the work of the Pictures Gene- ration, conceptual art, and minimalism, Erica Baum has developed a unique and truly authentic visual language. For two decades now, her enigmatic close-ups of books, newspapers, and other printed matter have been investigating the nature, traditions, and essences of the photographic, steadily “re-materializing” its visual, haptic and thematic qualities.

Erica Baum’s works are “photographic” in a very specific fashion: alongside the fleeting and ephemeral quality of the constant flow of images on display, she places an object-like presence and a precise interest in the material context of photography. By developing her series of pictures in direct close-ups, focused on surprising details with a shallow depth of field, she evokes a poetic power: indexically precise and at the same time abstract and trans-temporal like a collage, fragmentary and yet possessing a narrative power; seemingly everyday, trivial, and at the same time charged. Baum’s pictures are emotional in a special sense – they have a soul and demand most careful attention. They question and confirm in very fundamental ways: text, image, writing – their message, significance and use — an understanding of the essence of our culture.

A METHOD OF A CLOAK is Erica Baum’s first solo exhibition with KLEMM’S, presenting her current series Patterns, photographs taken from guidelines and booklets made for the home tailor. Drawing a line between the “dictate” of fashion and the language of sewing patterns, Baum lets the words resonate on their own, freed from the canvas of a sentence.

Visual information is here quite literally layered, the signs and lines, word fragments and figures on the various sides appear over and next to one another. On a yellow-patinated foundation and against a backdrop of faded blues, reds, and blacks, a rhythmic play of instructions, a multilingual fashion vocabulary, and freely hovering body silhouettes develops. Somewhere between technical drawing, geometric diagrams, and a minimalist sketch book.

Striking in Patterns is the division into larger formats and smaller, almost serialistic images. The latter, with their reduced drawing and textual components, set the tone for the abstract visual language and the concentrated rhythm of the work group. The outlines of the figures thus are all the more remarkable in the visual space of the larger, subtly composed tableaus. With their posture, gestures, and facial expressions, these de-humanized mannequins and strangely inanimate subjects seem confident and entirely autonomous. Framed by patterns and sewing instructions, a different form of legibility comes to the fore.

Erica Baum inscribes her current images with a weightlessness, which already on second glance suggests a deeper, critical interest. The alienation of maker and product in our world of commodities and the role of the invisible labor force in the sweatshops of global competition come to mind, alongside questions of gender stereotypes, control and still prevalent power relations. By trusting the visual finesse and openness of her images, Baum succeeds in making various layers of this critical context palpable. Creating a stark contrast with the primary function of those manuals, which were actually aimed at “controlling” the body through arrangements, lines and cuts, they are now transcended into vessels for a much wider conversation.

Erica Baum (born in New York, 1961) received a BA in anthropology from Barnard in 1984 and an MFA from Yale University in 1994. Recent museum exhibitions include Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY ; Face à face, Frac île-de-france, Campus de Villetaneuse; The Swindle: Art Between Seeing and Believing, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Lever le voile, Frac île-de-france, Paris; Photo- Poetics: An Anthology, Kunsthalle Berlin and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Reconstructions: Recent Photographs and Video from the Met Collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Recent solo and two-person exhibitions include A Long Dress, Bureau, New York; Naked Eye Nature Morte, Galerie Crevecoeur, Paris; AAa:Quien, Erica Baum & Libby Rothfeld, Bureau, New York; The Following Information, Bureau, New York; Stanzas, Galerie Crevecoeur, Paris. Selected biennials include; AGORA 4th Athens Biennale, Athens, 2013 and the 30th Bienal de São Paulo: The Imminence of Poetics, São Paulo, Brazil, 2012. Her work is held in the public collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York Centre National des Arts Plastiques, Paris; FRAC Ile de France, Paris; and the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut.

Images > Erica Baum at Klemm’s Courtesy the gallery and the artist

Amos Gebhardt / Evanescence

Amos Gebhardt / Evanescence

Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne
Online viewing Room.

28 April –  28 May 2020


Text by Joanna Kitto

It has been said that if the earth’s lifespan could be represented in 24 hours, the entirety of human existence would begin and end in one second. It is this sense of deep time, and the relative ephemerality of humankind, that Amos Gebhardt draws upon in the performative moving image Evanescence, 2018.

Video excerpt (above): A 1:52min excerpt of selected moments from the Evanescence video.
Courtesy of Amos Hebhardt and Tolarno Galleries

Across four large-scale screens, bodies emerge from and coalesce with the land. Forty dancers move within four sprawling Australian landscapes—a salt lake, rock formations, crescent-shaped sand dunes, and a waterfall—all sites that echo the vastness of geological time. Dwarfed by the landscapes, the human figures appear as living sculptures extending upwards from the earth; a reminder that they are made of the same matter.

AMOS GEBHARDT | ‘Evanescence’ 2018
4 channel, 4K video installation with multi-channel sound; 34 minutes (loop)
Installation view 2018 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Divided Worlds, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide. Photography by Saul Steed. Courtesy of Tolarno Galleries.

Time is elastic in Evanescence. An infinite loop with no ostensible duration, the unbroken horizon line is fixed in place and the characters are locked in a dance with no beginning and no end. Labelling them ‘characters’ draws our attention to the way narrative is treated by the artist. A trained filmmaker, Amos Gebhardt is alert to screen language and to our aptitude in reading it. Traditional cinema relies on pulling the camera towards the face to encourage empathy with the protagonist, and Hollywood in particular has asked us to view the world through the metric of the white male body. Without cutaways or close-ups, Gebhardt breaks from these cinematic narrative constructs to offer no such privilege. The bodies that populate Evanescence are diverse in age, gender, and race; an array of human expression that creates a space of pluralism and makes visible identities that are frequently excluded from the dominant paradigm of western screen culture. Together, they form a portrait of contemporary Australia – diaspora, settlers and First Nations Australians entwined.

Evanescence, installation view, 2018 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Divided Worlds, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide. Photography by Saul Steed. Courtesy of Tolarno Galleries
AMOS GEBHARDT | ‘Evanescence’ (Water #3)
2018; archival inkjet pigment print, 100 x 150 cm – Courtesy of Tolarno Galleries.

And, while our eyes are trained to focus on the human form, sustained viewing of Evanescence reveals an anti-hierarchical treatment of the bodies and the landscapes. The human forms are reduced in the composition, a tactic that disrupts the Anthropocentric belief in our significance. How small we are against the immensity of time, and of the natural world.

Sounds emitting from the dancers are woven through field recordings to create a soundtrack that reinforces the idea that place does not preference the human experience. At once we hear the intake and exhale of breath, a grunt, a slap of skin on skin, running water and the bracing call of the butcherbird. A native Australian songbird, the butcherbird species is thought to have diverged from the currawong thirteen million years ago and the magpie six million years ago. Its ancient song is a call into deep time.

AMOS GEBHARDT | ‘Evanescence’ (Rock #4)
2018; archival inkjet pigment print, 80 x 130 cm – Courtesy of Tolarno Galleries

Ruptures ripple through Evanescence. At a certain point, the languid movement choreographed by Gebhardt and Melanie Lane takes a dramatic shift and the dancers begin to act out a form of self-flagellation. In this violent flinging of limbs, arms collide with backs and torsos and we hear the impact of flesh on flesh. The dancers’ feet slide into the sand as they attempt to find solid ground. The earth makes its mark on the bodies, and the bodies make their mark on the earth. As this scene plays out across the four screens, there is a suggestion that the violence and damage wrought is evidence of humankind’s inevitable impermanence. The cycle will end, but when?

Joanna Kitto is Associate Curator at the University of South Australia’s Samstag Museum of Art.

AMOS GEBHARDT | ‘Evanescence’ (Cave #1)
2018; archival inkjet pigment print, 80 x 135 cm – Courtesy of Tolarno Galleries

Amos Gebhardt’s works have a cinematic scale. Techniques of collage, dance, slow motion and time lapse are used to frame large-scale, multi-screen video installations and photographs that examine intersections between culture, nature and the body. Gebhardt is interested in mapping both human and non-human narratives.
Amos Gebhardt is the 2019 recipient of the inaugural Adelaide Studios Artist Residency, presented by the South Australian Film Corporation and Adelaide Studios in partnership with SALA (South Australian Living Artists) Festival, and the Anne & Gordon Samstag Museum of Art. The 3 channel video: Amos Gebhardt: Small acts of resistance will premiere at Samstag from 3 July to 11 September 2020.

AMOS GEBHARDT | ‘Evanescence’ (Salt #1)
2018; archival inkjet pigment print, 70 x 110 cm – Courtesy of Tolarno Galleries

A Sidney Myer Creative Fellow (2014) and Masters graduate of Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS), Gebhardt’s work has been exhibited at M+ Museum, Hong Kong; ACMI, Melbourne; MONA, Hobart; Monash Gallery of Art, Melbourne and broadcast on SBS and ABC.
Gebhardt created visuals for Kate Miller-Heidke’s 2016 Helpmann Award-winning concert with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra at MOFO. Gebhardt directed Second Unit on Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth (2015), starring Marion Cotillard premiering in competition at Cannes Film Festival.
Tolarno Galleries presented Amos Gebhardt’s solo exhibition, Night Horse, at the 2019 Sydney Contemporary art fair.


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