Until 11 Apr 2020

Due to the Covid-19 emergency the exhibition might be closed to the public until further notice. We invite you to CLICK HERE and check the website of the organizers to find the latest information and updates about the current situation.

The sculptress Maruša Sagadin and the painter Thomas Reinhold represent two very distinct, individual positions that follow completely different aesthetic paths. And yet experimental arrangements can be found in the works of both artists, allowing a joint exhibition: the playing with the unexpected, the dialect of form and resolution. Maruša Sagadin produces coloured, vertically towering geometric modules reminiscent of skyscrapers. Or horizontal structures in the form of benches on which the viewer would preferably rather sit down straight away. Both artistic positings are complemented or contrasted by irregularly rounded or jagged forms.

The viewer experiences this as an artistic reductionism of the Apollonian and the Dionysian, of manneristic proliferation and of rational quasi-architectonic language of forms.In Thomas Reinhold’s work, the abstract ballet of lines and blotches, generated by processes of pouring, first strikes the eye, dominating the picture space in coloured graduations between pastel colours and bold colours, between hot and cold. Yet that which could be presumed to be a continuation of the Drip Paintings of Jackson Pollock or the poured paintings of Hermann Nitsch is in reality the result of an almost mathematical experimental arrangement, which pre-structures the painting process in sketches, and which then evolves with a certain desire for the unexpected and for the aleatoric: the directions of the pouring of the colours are predefined, and during the process are frequently adjusted to the situationally altering given conditions.

In this way, in the multiple repetition of the process, superimpositions occur and palimpsest-like structures emerge.Just as one imagines to be able to read landscape forms or impressionistic hallucinations of form out of Thomas Reinhold’s immaterial configurations, in the architectonic-functional figures by Maruša Sagadin there are narratives which do not disclose themselves via the process of observing, but instead operate virtually as background radiation; and in the displaced applications to the geometric repertoire of forms push outwards – something like references to feminine and feministic topoi that are evoked through pop- and comic-like oversimplifications/enlargements of body parts. The work deals with an anthropomorphisation of materially bound objectivity, with the questionable gender connotations that are connected with spaces, and with the relationship between the private and the public sphere that makes infrastructures, as functionally interpretable objects, out of leaps in dimensions. In short: an unsettling interplay between social utility and a playful Stop Making Sense that would like to counteract socio-political stereotypes.”We can only perceive the world as it appears to us,” as the philosopher Christoph Türcke once wrote.

“But appearances are always merely an exterior: appearances of something, that itself does not appear.” Both Maruša Sagadin and Thomas Reinhold lend this ‘something’ an artistic form that would like to help that which is hidden not necessarily ‘to appear’, but to provide it with an aesthetic presence. Actuality and phantasm, reality and dream, control of being and irrational externalisation: in this way the compositional forms of abstraction and postmodernity develop new energy. (Thomas Miessgang, Vienna 2020)

Images > Installation view Courtesy the gallery and the artists, photo Philipp Friedrich

Charles Avery. The Taile of the One-Armed Snake

Charles Avery. The Taile of the One-Armed Snake

GRIMM Frans Halsstraat, Amsterdam

Until 25 April 2020

Due to the Covid-19 emergency the exhibition might be closed to the public until further notice. We invite you to CLICK HERE and check the website of the organizers to find the latest information and updates about the current situation.

The Taile of the One-Armed Snake, a new solo exhibition by Charles Avery at GRIMM in Amsterdam.

Since 2005, Charles Avery’s work has focused on a fictional island: an all-encompassing investigation of the fabric and mentality of another place. Through drawings, texts and objects the artist describes the inhabitants, architecture, philosophies, customs and idiosyncrasies of this imaginary territory.

With accents of the Scottish Hebrides and East London, the Island is located at the centre of an archipelago of innumerable constituents. The gateway to the Island is the port of Onomatopoeia, once the stepping off point of the pioneers who first arrived, turned colonial outpost, turned boom town, bustling metropolis, depression ravaged slum, and regenerated city of culture and ultimately tourist destination. It has many stories, played out within the limits of a monumental city wall that separates the dark and violent wilderness beyond.

The title of the show, The Taile of the One-Armed Snake, takes its name from a bill pasted on the wall, under the porticos, where a market takes place by day. The poster is surmounted upon layers of other notices, stuck up, torn down, peeled off : signs to and remnants of the Islanders’ cultural activity.

Several large and medium scale drawings provide a textural insight into life in, on, around and beyond the city wall: from the bustling society of the market to a lonely oarsman bringing wood by boat to fire the twin lighthouses forming the sea-facing gate of Onomatopoeia. Cultivators tend to their crops outside a Utopian fort, a satellite of the cityproper. The attractive red-headed student with the weak chin muses in a cafe. Saltimbanques practice beneath the arches, whilst beasts devour scraps left over from the market.

These scenes of Island life are offset by isometric projections and plans of the City wall and the fort, giving us a god’s eye view of the constructions and the rigorous mathematics that underpins many of their systems.

The centrepiece of the show is a large glass installation of multiple parts: a section of a fish market, with all manner of re-purposed container used to display various species. Immediately familiar, under closer inspection the creatures can be seen to embody various geometries: the hexagon, the tetrahedron, the pentagon. Predominantly on offer on the stalls are the ‘ninth’, the sacred mainstay of the Islanders’ diet and economy: dog-faced eels of all different colours and girths. Described by Avery as ‘muscly lines with faces’ they represent the simplest form, primitive beings of pure, directional will.

The Taile of the One-Armed Snake is a multitude of stories, ideas, and percepts interwoven to create the rich fabric of the Island.

All images > Installation view, Courtesy the Artist and the gallery

JIM DINE The Classic Prints

JIM DINE The Classic Prints

Galerie Templon, Brussels

Until 18 April 2020

Due to the Covid-19 emergency the exhibition might be closed to the public until further notice. We invite you to CLICK HERE and check the website of the organizers to find the latest information and updates about the current situation.

For his return to Galerie Templon’s Brussels space after six years, Jim Dine, one of the most significant American artists of his generation, is presenting a retrospective look at his print work, an art that he has become recognized over the years as one of the greatest masters.

Born in 1935, Jim Dine first gained recognition as one of the pioneers of the happenings in New York in the late fifties before becoming a key figure of the Pop Art movement in the sixties. A profoundly independent, multi-faceted artist and poet, Jim Dine soon began to strike out on his own. Drawing on sculpture, painting, printmaking and photography, he developed an original language, partly abstract, partly figurative, haunted by a distinctive iconography formed by antique figures, tools, hearts or Pinocchios.

At the age of 17, when he was living with his grandparents in Ohio, he discovered the book Modern Prints and Drawings by Paul Sachs, former head of Harvard’s Fogg Art Museum. “It changed my life,” the artist declares. Fascinated by woodcuts, he started to carve his own plates in the carpentry workshop of the house’s basement. Over the years, printmaking became central to his practice. Curious of every technique, he refined his art by travelling around the world, seeking to learn from masters such as Aldo Crommelynck in Paris. He experimented with a large variety of complex techniques, from xylography to collagraphy, intaglio, lithography, carborundum, photogravure, aquatint and digital printing. Jim Dine sees the creative process as an exhilarating experience, as crucial as the finished work. Both the collaborative work and the artist’s need to let go when faced with the technical nature of printmaking are essential. As he explains in A Printmaker’s Document(Steidl 2013): “One of the reasons I love printing is that painting is a lonely business, and so when I go to a workshop I have the camaraderie of other people, and I feel a kind of relief that there’s some responsibility that’s been taken off my shoulders. The responsibility of realizing the print is taken from me by experts, and therefore it gives me time to think about the image and not have to worry about the craft of it. I have the privilege of thinking only about my inventive way of working.”

The question of the multiple is secondary to him, as he retouches many of his prints by hand. “I don’t care about making editions. If there was just one of each images, I’d be happy. The thrill for me is inventing, and adding or taking out, changing from one state to another. Hand coloring over a woodcut that’s in black and white then printing the block again over the color that I painted on then taking a rag soaked in turpentine and rubbing it over the print then put an etching over that. It’s more than that, though it is the freedom to change when I want to and for the image to grow.”

The twenty-four works created between 1981 and 2015 and gathered together in this exhibition bear witness to this joy of discovery and the pleasure of producing variations on a handful of favourite themes. The heart, symbol of the palette and the feminine, sits alongside ghostly bathrobes, self-portraits in hidden form, and several incarnations of the Venus de Milo, ageless emblem of Western culture and lost civilizations.

Jim Dine, now nearly 85, lives and works in Montrouge, near Paris, Göttingen (Germany) and Walla Walla on the American west coast. Since his first exhibition in 1960, his work has appeared in almost 300 solo shows. It also features in over 70 public collections across the world, including at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Musée National d’Art Moderne – Centre Pompidou in Paris and Tate Collection in London.

In 2018, the Musée National d’Art Moderne – Centre Pompidou held a major exhibition centring on his twenty-six-work donation. The exhibition travelled to the Centre Pompidou Malaga then the Multimedia Art Museum in Moscow. In Rome, his work is currently the subject of a major retrospective at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni (until 2 June 2020). In spring 2020, a collection of his prints will be shown in France as part of the inauguration of the Fondation Helenis-GGL in Montpellier and his commissioned work Faire danser le plafond, a ceiling specially made for the 17th-century mansion in collaboration with the Manufacture de Sèvres.

Images > Installation views Courtesy © the gallery and the artist

Jasmin Werner: Façadomy

Jasmin Werner: Façadomy

Damien & The Love Guru, Brussels

until 26 April 2020 ( Temporary Closed COVID-19)

Listen to Olaf Winkler’s indoor architecture tour in reference to Jasmin Werner’s work.

17,000 years ago, a number of holes were made in the walls of the caves of Lascaux, in the South of France. Branches were stuck in the holes, serving as stable horizontal beams. Vertical beams were then attached, creating a structure that gave access to the ceiling. This is how the Lascaux caves were painted.
The ancient Greeks built scaffolds to make statues, larger than life. In the Altes Museum in Berlin there is a drinking cup from the early 5th century BC. The ‘Berlin Foundry Cup’ is painted all around with images of an ancient Greek foundry. Sculptors work on one of the statues, standing on a wooden scaffold.

Installation View, Courtesy of the artist and Damien & The Love Guru, Brussels
Jasmin Werner
Façadomy, 2020 
Printed mesh fencing, aluminium, zip ties, thread, synthetic hair
32 x 20 x 58 cm

We use metal scaffolds to construct our buildings. They were developed by two English brothers called Daniel and David Jones. In 1913, they built a scaffold around Buckingham Palace using their patented system, ‘Rapid Scaffixers’, to fit the metal tubes together. Their scaffolding promised change, promised progress, and stood in the way of an unobstructed view on development.
There’s no such history written of safety mesh, the netting that contemporary scaffolds are often wrapped in. Façades are wrapped in scaffolds are wrapped in mesh. The veils that shroud the work of construction in mystery.

Jasmin Werner
Façadomy (EU headquarters, Brussels), 2020 
Printed mesh fencing, aluminium, zip ties, thread, synthetic hair, aluminium stand
mask :32x20x60 cm, aluminium stand : 184 x 12 x 12 cm

Mesh tries to cancel the scaffold’s promise, to make it dis- appear before the work is even done. All it wants us to have is the grand reveal. It renders almost invisible and harmless the messiness of construction. Almost.
Mesh is not transparent, but it’s also not opaque. It’s a web that places itself between us and an object and makes us look at both, simultaneously. We see the building behind the scaffold’s sharp lines through the mesh; the veil and its objects becoming one.

Jasmin Werner
Façadomy, 2020 
Printed mesh fencing, aluminium, zip ties, thread, synthetic hair
32x20x58 cm

In the late 19th century, widows concealed their faces behind a mesh called ‘Courtauld crape’, named after its main manufac- turer: Courtaulds from England. Crape was a matte gauze made of waste silk, crimped with heated rollers, then dyed black and stiffened with starch or glue.
Strict mourning etiquette forbade all colors but black and dictated widows to wear crape veils over their faces whenever in public, for up to four years after their husbands had passed away. For the prescribed duration of the process of mourning, the widow had no choice but to present herself to the outside world as a colorless image reminiscent of the past. Like a clas- sical façade against a rapidly modernizing backdrop, she stood
out from her surroundings, performing an apparent nostalgia for times since gone.

Jasmin Werner
Façadomy (Dom Römer, Frankfurt), 2020 
Printed mesh fencing, aluminium, zip ties, thread, synthetic hair
32x20x59 cm

Some women called crape ‘a veritable instrument of torture’ because, apart from this emotional labor, it was costly, kind of heavy and unpleasant. It caused irritation to the eyes and skin and stained the face when wet or damp. “Many a woman has been laid in her coffin by the wearing of crape,” a doctor wrote by the end of the 19th century. It’s true that inhaling its poisonous particles was known to have caused death. But despite all this, the obscuring mesh supposedly served a noble cause: to protect the widow against “the untimely gayety of a passing stranger.”

Jasmin Werner
Façadomy (Hearst Tower, New York City), 2020 
Printed mesh fencing, aluminium, zip ties, thread, synthetic hair
32 x 20 x 58 cm

Like the veil protecting the widow, mesh protects building and builders from the gaze of the outside world. And yet it seems made rather for that outside world, protecting it from falling rub- ble, and substituting the view on reconstruction with a promise of the reconstructed. As if that passing stranger couldn’t already recognize the widow, behind that blackest of black surfaces. What if the veil actually served to protect the outside world from the widow? We enjoy the stability and permanence of nostalgic façades, not the instability of the ruins behind them. Mourning makes us uncomfortable, we prefer not to see the widow’s grief. But what if we invert the gaze and look back at the world? What did she see through the mesh?

Michiel Huijben

Jeremy Demester, OUIDAH

Jeremy Demester, OUIDAH

Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin

14 March – 30 May 2020

Jeremy Demester lives and works between Paris and Ouidah, Benin, where he has established a studio. According to the Voodoo cults of the Yoruba culture, rooted in Togo, Benin and Nigeria, Ouidah is the city of revenants. Living closely to the spirits, Demester creates works inspired – in the strongest sense – by the vicinity of the otherworld, embodied in the most extraordinary objects, as well as the most common.

The present exhibition was developed through consultation with several Voodoo masters (Vodounnon). An oracle gave the artist twenty-one words. These words, such as sun, moon, arrow or cross, are all symbols that populate the works to activate the world of spirits. Stirred by invisible forces, Demester’s paintings embrace the infinite metamorphoses of this cult, through their intense colourism and their exploration of primordial energies.

Demester’s works are presented along with art objects from his own collection, created in Ouidah, which bear witness to several aspects of the Voodoo journey. The Voodoo art objects take various forms and continually evolve in response to the fluctuations of the Western market, which can be felt in the availability of certain fabrics or in clothing fashions. Voodoo, an ancestral force, embodies in all materials – it dominates life.

“Jeremy Demester’s painting is action, vision and prose. In search of new possibilities in the world, the painter probes experience through intuition. It is his guide. In front of the artwork, intuition favors astonishment over assurance and pushes the painter to approach the impossible.” (Annabelle Gugnon, 2018)

Jeremy Demester (*1988, Digne), lives and works in Paris. Demester’s work has been presented in solo and group exhibitions, such as at the MUba Eugène Leroy, Tourcoing (2019); Château Malromé, Saint André-du-Bois (2018); Mucciaccia Contemporary, Rome (2017); Musée d’art moderne et contemporain de Saint-Étienne, Saint-Étienne; Palais de l’École des Beaux-Arts, Paris (both 2016); Zinsou Foundation, Ouidah and Palais des Beaux-Arts, Paris (both 2015), among others. His work can be found in the public collections of the Foundation Zinsou, Ouidah; Istanbul Modern, Istanbul and Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain Saint-Étienne Métropole, Saint-Étienne, among others.

Due to the Covid-19 emergency the exhibition might be closed until further notice. We invite you to check the website of the organizers to find the latest updates.

All images > Exhibition view Jeremy Demester. Courtesy, Galerie Max Hetzler

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




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



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 ( 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.

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.




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