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.”

Pier Paolo Calzolari: Muitos estudos para uma casa de limao

Pier Paolo Calzolari: Muitos estudos para uma casa de limao

Repetto Gallery Viewing Room


Into the yellow of the rose
Perennial, which, in bright expansiveness,
Lays forth its gradual blooming, redolent
Of praises to the never-wintering sun…

Divine Comedy, Paradise, XXX, 122-125

Pier Paolo Calzolari – Untitled, from “Muitos estudos para uma casa de limão” series
2018; Salt, tempera, pastels “à l’écu” and oil pastels on Arches watercolor “Torchon” paper laid on board; 58.5 x 38.5 x 1.5 cm – Courtesy of Repetto Gallery

In his elegant writing, David Anfam cites the yellow of Goethe’s lemons; thus in this brief note, we could not forgo mention of our great Dante. Yellow as a colour, but yellow most of all as a symbol of light, of warmth and of grace: at the same time lightness and potency, energy and candour. Towards the end of the ’60s, at the start of his brilliant career, Pier Paolo Calzolari (Bologna, 1943) emerged as one of the most original and intransigent artists of the second half of the 20th century.

Pier Paolo Calzolari – Untitled, from “Muitos estudos para uma casa de limão” series
2018; Salt, tempera, pastels “à l’écu” and oil pastels on Arches watercolor “Torchon” paper laid on board; 77 x 57.5 x 2 cm – Courtesy of Repetto Gallery

A profound and refined interpreter of the poetics of the sublime – more in its Baroque than its Romantic acceptation, in terms of theatricality, experimentation and marvel – he has always toyed and created with the force of the elements. Suspended between the two extremes of its possible etymology – sub-limen, beneath the architrave of the gateway, way up high; and sub-limo, beneath the mud, way down low – like a new Ulysses, he drew back the stiff bow of creativity, each time shooting the arrow of inspiration right up to his decisive encounter with the pure star of Form. But just what kind of Form? Not that based on the poetics of beauty – at least not beauty viewed as order, measure, equilibrium and symmetry – but on the contrary, each time espousing the risks of the sublime: the sentiment of the boundless, the vibrations of the unknown, the doubts of experimentation, the asymmetries of the void and the matter that feeds on its uninterrupted transformations. Hence the flame, vegetable matter, salt, water, tobacco, frost and ice became his forms and symbols. Like that of Ulysses, his is a colourful mind, and one which with endless skill adapts to the will of destiny, to the order of the elements, transforming itself and much else around him. In the identification of his extraordinary creativity, both archaic and unprecedented, remote and futuristic, in which the two sacred memories of Georges de La Tour and Caspar David Friedrich – fire and ice, heat and freezing, black and white – meet up once more in an embrace which is both intimate and impossible, real and infinite.

Pier Paolo Calzolari – Untitled, from “Muitos estudos para uma casa de limão” series
2018; Salt, tempera, pastels “à l’écu” and oil pastels on Arches watercolor “Torchon” paper laid on board; 77 x 57.5 x 2 cm – Courtesy of Repetto Gallery

However, with these new works, his recent creations which we are happy and honoured to present – paper applied to the board, on which salt (presented as a large and dominant surface) dialogues with the milk tempera and various kinds of crayon – his creativity manages to regain a greater degree of decoration, an unprecedented pleasantness, like an extreme and lyrical song. In these new works, Calzolari seems to counterbalance a degree of calm, of tenderness, a fortuitous gracefulness made up of joyful and lively colours to his traditional stormy, restless and experimental waters; woven to form a candid fabric of kindly, refined gestures, in a chromatic approach which is both energetic and humble, brilliant and delicate. An unprecedented ‘pictorial’ universe, in which his previous ‘brazen cry’, having acquired a new air of wisdom, has been transformed into a multicolour zen chant.

Carlo and Paolo Repetto

Pier Paolo Calzolari – Untitled, from “Muitos estudos para uma casa de limão” series
2018; Salt, tempera, pastels “à l’écu” and oil pastels on Arches watercolor “Torchon” paper laid on board; 77 x 57.5 x 2 cm – Courtesy of Repetto Gallery
Pier Paolo Calzolari – Untitled, from “Muitos estudos para uma casa de limão” series
2018; Salt, tempera, pastels “à l’écu” and oil pastels on Arches watercolor “Torchon” paper laid on board; 77 x 57.5 x 2 cm – Courtesy of Repetto Gallery

Here is the third Calzolari, an intimate philosopher. Muitos estudos para uma casa de limão stems from this sensibility.

Never before exhibited, the project comprising twenty-two studies for a “lemon house” is sui generis, a one-of-a-kind suite complete in itself. Nevertheless, its matrix belongs to Calzolari’s wider practice – specifically the aforementioned painting-as-lyric mode. Executed on Torchon Arches paper mounted on board, the support’s roughness not only has a grain that helps texture the milk tempera medium, it also chimes with another of Calzolari’s signature substances, layered salt. In turn, the granular pigmented surface deftly embellished by marks made with ultra-soft, friable pastels (pastel à l’écu) establishes a concrete metaphor for the look and feel of a lemon’s skin. But before considering the fruit, Calzolari’s touch in this pictorial style merits mention. He has described painting as “a butterfly”. The butterfly and Calzolari’s facture have one common quality (beside their beauty): they quiver light as a feather (which, by no coincidence, belongs among the artist’s leitmotifs). Lightness is to materiality as transience is to time. After all, fruits form a late stage in a plant’s development, a prelude to its dormancy or death.

Extract of David Anfam’s text “Ripeness”, written in occasion of the exhibition of Muitos estudos para uma casa de limao, September 2019.

Takesada Matsutani / Stream

Takesada Matsutani / Stream

Hauser & Wirth

14 May – 14 Jun 2020


‘Time is for me, most important. I was born, I must die. But my conscious is streaming for infinity.

My infinity, my purpose, my desire is there.

That’s my imagination.’

—Takesada Matsutani

The artist’s unique visual language forms one of the most pioneering oeuvres to emerge from post-war Japan and is continually celebrated globally. With the online exhibition, ‘Stream’, Ōsaka-born and Paris-based artist Takesada Matsutani presents a series of previously unseen works, alongside a significant body of preparatory drawings, multi-media paintings and lithographs, dating from the 1970s to present day.

Stream 78-1 – Takesada Matsutani,1978
Graphite pencil and turpentine on paper; 81 x 119.5 cm
© Takesada Matsutani. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

Buddhist teachings were a central element in Matsutani’s childhood education, with our existence seen as a constantly changing current. Although he doesn’t consider himself a Zen practitioner in his art, he has felt a profound affinity with the philosophy’s call for a ‘return to the simplicity of everyday experience,’ its rejection of ‘system-based thinking,’ and its emphasis on ‘a constant moment-to-moment praxis.’ In his multifaceted works, Matsutani attempts to stop time, to materialize a suspended moment and acknowledge the repetition and fluidity of everyday life.

Puffed up-2 (膨らみ-2) – Takesada Matsutani, 2020.
Vinyl adhesive, graphite pencil, acrylic, on canvas and plywood, 91.5 x 63 x 10.5 cm
© Takesada Matsutani. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

Matsutani began creating vast expanses of metallic black graphite on mural-size sheets of paper built up with painstaking individual strokes, commonly known as his Stream series. The successive layers produce a sense of volume through the interplay of shadows and the direction of the pencil strokes, developing a tactility and inner luminosity as seen in the earliest work in the online presentation, ‘Stream 78-1’ (1978) and ‘Stream 99-5’ (1999). This ritualized manner of mark-making has a performative gesture that presents a time-based record reminiscent of Matsutani’s artistic beginnings in Japan.

Three Circles-19 – Takesada Matsutani, 2019.
Vinyl adhesive, acrylic, graphite pencil on canvas, 55 x 38 x 3.5 cm 
© Takesada Matsutani. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

About the artist
Takesada Matsutani was born in Ōsaka in 1937. He began exhibiting with the Gutai Group in 1960, along with Shūji Mukai and Tsuyoshi Maekawa, and officially joined the group in 1963. In 1966, he received a grant from the French government after winning first prize in the 1st Mainichi Art Competition, and subsequently moved to Paris where he continues to live and work today.

Propagation 15-2-5 – Takesada Matsutani, 2015.
Vinyl adhesive, graphite pencil on canvas, 162 x 130 cm
© Takesada Matsutani. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

Organized with Olivier Renaud-Clément, this intimate presentation embodies Matsutani’s intuitive and enduring connection with his materials over the past six decades, including a new work created in the artist’s studio and home during this period of isolation.

In keeping with his Gutai roots, Matsutani strove to identify and convey the essential character and expressive possibilities between vinyl adhesive and graphite. It is this confluence of materials, as seen in recent works ‘Propagation 15-2-5’ (2015) and ‘EVOLUTION-99’ (1999), that epitomizes the distinctive visual language the artist has made his own over the last 40 years.

Kao – Takesada Matsutani, 2011.
Vinyl adhesive, graphite powder, gouache and paper on wood, 19 x 12.8 x 1.7 cm
© Takesada Matsutani. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

Alongside Matsutani’s rediscovery of the power of black and white, he also started to adopt bright colour planes and shaped canvases with a very personal palette, this is highlighted in ‘Three Circles-19’ (2019), photographed in the artist’s studio in the past month during isolation. Talking about whether the current global pandemic has changed his practice Matsutani says: ‘a little bit at first, but I find my routine is the same and focus on the work is the same. In the end, the beauty is still there and continues to exist.’

Takesada Matsutani. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

This online exhibition follows Matsutani’s retrospective survey at the Centre Pompidou, Paris in Summer 2019 and coincides with the re-opening of ‘Takesada Matsutani: Prints, 1967-1977’ at les Abattoirs, Toulouse, in partnership with the National Institute of Art History, France (INHA). The artist’s work is also featured in our current group presentation at Hauser & Wirth Hong Kong, open until 30 May.

Under the umbrella of Hauser & Wirth’s new global philanthropic and charitable initiative #artforbetter, the gallery is donating 10% of gross profits from sales of all works in their online exhibitions to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organization.

Selections / Almine Rech Viewing Room

Selections / Almine Rech Viewing Room

Almine Rech Gallery
11 May – 22 May 2020


Almine Rech is pleased to share with you a selection of new artworks by eleven artists the gallery represents. Entitled “Selections”, the presentation takes place in our newly built ‘viewing room.’ It all began with the idea of expanding the experience of seeing art to a digital space where distance, simulation, and digitally constructed environments prevail, temporarily. These works in which body, figure and the identities’ essence are evident in the casting should have been presented for the first time this spring at Art Monaco, Art Brussels, and TEFAF New York, events which have either been postponed or canceled. Thus fostering proximity with an assembly of talents from the gallery, the ‘viewing room’ offers the possibility to encounter each work in a digital environment.

Text by Alexis Vaillant, Independent Curator and Art Critic, Former Chief-curator of CAPC – Museum of Contemporary Art of Bordeaux (France)

With works by: Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Ewa Juszkiewicz, Tom Wesselmann, Vaughn Spann, Brent Wadden, Günther Förg, Tursic & Mille, Johan Creten, Chloe Wise, Markus Lüpertz, John McAllister

Ewa Juszkiewicz

Do stereotypes interact with the uncanny? That’s what Ewa Juszkiewicz tackles through her classical yet subversive Portrait of a lady (after Christopher Wilhelm Eckersberg) from 2020. Spiky, witty, and oddly natural, the bouquet that hides her head turns the social apparatus of the picture into still life.

Ewa Juszkiewicz: Portrait of a lady (after Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg), 2020
Oil on canvas, 100 x 80 cm – Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech

Nathaniel Mary Quinn

Strikingly combining hyperrealistic effects to strategically devastating brush strokes, this fractured portrait of a black male by Nathaniel Mary Quinn from 2019 spectacularly catches one’s eye by implementing a brutal yet fascinating ‘painting surgery’ of a face on canvas.

Nathaniel Mary Quinn: After All These Years, 2019
Oil paint, paint stick, oil pastel, soft pastel, gouache on canvas
40 x 29 x 3.5 cm, Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech

Tom Wesselmann

Tom Wesselmann’s depiction of nudes has the fluid grace of an afternoon landscape in summer: they shine by its sensuous forms and intense colors. Intimately sized, but with larger-than-life presence, these two “Studies for Nude” from 2002 and 2004 are powerful.

Tom Wesselmann: Study for Sunset Nude with Picasso Vase, 2004
Ink and colored pencil on 100% rag tracing paper, 21 x 22 x 4 cm – Courtesy of The Estate of Tom Wesselmann and Almine Rech © 2020 The Estate of Tom Wesselmann / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Vaughn Spann

Abstraction and figuration in Vaughn Spann’s striking works radiate energy. They negotiate an obliqueness mingled with certitude at the intersection where abstract folds and crevices, and otherworldly double-headed characters provide enigmatic panoramas for the viewer’s eye.

Vaughn Spann: Mars on Earth, 2020
Polymer paint, mixed media on wood panels, with wooden frame, 184.2 x 96.5 cm
Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech

Brent Wadden

Textile is also an abstract art form. A former abstract painter, Brent Wadden makes painting through textile. His meticulously woven Untitled from 2018 combines the ascetic dimension of abstraction to the crafted and comfortable thickness of the tapestry whose imperfections reveal perfect instants of uncertainty.

Brent Wadden: Untitled, 2018
Hand woven fibers, wool, cotton and acrylic on canvas, 278 x 212 x 4 cm
Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech

Günther Förg

Masks have something we don’t. They can simultaneously hide and reveal a face. Günther Förg’s sculptural experimentation helped in forging the complex extent of his vocabulary. Förg’s bronze Untitled (Mask) from 1990 captures the moment when a face is about to emerge from a mass of plasticine.

Günther Förg: Untitled (Mask), 1990 ; Bronze 48 x 30 x 30 cm
Courtesy of Almine Rech © 2020 Estate Günther Förg, Switzerland / VG Bild-Kunst Bonn

Tursic & Mille

Instinctive, subversive, and incontrovertibly sexy, Tursic & Mille’s Untitled painting from 2020 hums with radioactive irreverence. This playful work muffles the space by dissembling it phenomenologically, offering snapshots of a hallucinatory drowned world made toxic with the flick of a brush.

Ida Tursic & Wilfried Mille: To be titled, 2020; Silver silkscreen and oil on canvas
180 x 160 x 5 cm – Courtesy of the Artists and Almine Rech

Johan Creten

Vulva Gold from 2019 is a wall sculpture sized slightly bigger than a head. It has the shape of an internal body part as if seen from the outside, which has the capacity to absorb light as much as it is magnifying it

Chloe Wise

With an interest in the history of portraiture, Chloe Wise examines multiple channels that lead to questioning of the self. Wise’s polysemic images depict groups of young adults in poses at once sobering and comical. A carefully-studied awkwardness prevails, creating scenes of chilled delight.

Chloe Wise: Untitled, 2020; Oil on canvas, 91.4 x 121.9 cm
Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech

Markus Lüpertz

Nudes and antique-looking figures demonstrate Lüpertz’s dialectical relationship between painting and sculpture. Amor and Psyche were a passionate couple in Greek Mythology. Psyche embodied beauty. Amor (Cupidon) was a cute little winged god. In 2013, Lüpertz took revenge on too much beauty.

Markus Lüpertz: Amor + Psyche, 2013 – Oil on canvas in artist frame, 51 x 40.8 x 6.7 cm
Courtesy of the Artists and Almine Rech

John McAllister

In John McAllister’s spectral landscape paintings, happiness and decadence converge. The shimmering light depicted in Rays rought crepuscular from 2020 hints an instant where ephemerality is as seductive as magnetic attraction.

John McAllister: Rays rought crepuscular, 2020; Oil on canvas, 119.4 x 96.5 cm
Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech

William Monk: Untitled (zip) II – VII

William Monk: Untitled (zip) II – VII

PACE Gallery

May 5 – May 15, 2020


Pace Gallery presents William Monk: Untitled (zip) II–VII, a solo exhibition bringing together six new paintings created by the artist over the past month as a response to life in quarantine at his studio in London.

Mark Beasley on William Monk

This series expands upon a single painting Monk made in 2017 depicting a mysterious and hovering vapor trail set against a vibrant, luminescent sky. In these recent paintings, the artist expands the landscape and unfolds it into a visual mantra to capture, in his words, this “silenced and beautiful apocalypse.” Monk’s new body of work will be unveiled on Pace’s online platform on May 5 and will remain on view through May 15, concurrent to the online iteration of Frieze New York. 

William Monk, Untitled (zip) II, 2020. Oil on canvas. 13 3/4 × 23-5/8 in. Courtesy of the artist and Pace Gallery, New York / London / Hong Kong / Seoul / Geneva / Palo Alto.

Curated by Mark Beasley, Curatorial Director at Pace Gallery, Untitled (zip) II–VII features six paintings by the artist that, as Beasley notes, “let loose an unidentifiable and cryptic symbol that, rising to meet the sky, variously reminds one of an erupting volcano, cigarette smoke, a sequence from a sci-fi movie, or the vapor trail of a ground-to-air-missile.” For Monk, these paintings reflect his continued preoccupation with creating a space for the mind to travel. As with poetry, Monk’s work seeks to flesh out the abstract and reminds us to slow down. Or, as he says, “Painting is the antithesis of life outside ourselves.” The online exhibition presents a range of source materials, from iconic films to archival imagery, that have influenced the artist, offering an in-depth look into—and context around—the evolutionary process of Monk’s dynamic painting practice.

William Monk, Untitled (zip) III, 2020, Oil on canvas, 35 cm × 60 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Pace Gallery, New York / London / Hong Kong / Seoul / Geneva / Palo Alto.

The cinematic and photographic memory looms large in Monk’s imagination. In particular, he cites Stanley Kubrick’s teen-gang dystopic future vision A Clockwork Orange, Michelangelo Antonioni’s revolutionary Sixties hippie movie Zabriskie Point, and Ridley Scott’s bleak future vision of tech-landscapes and artificial intelligence Blade Runner as some of the films that have shaped his visual language and memory. Source imagery aside, Monk is clear that his paintings ultimately exist without a singular and fixed meaning: “I don’t start from a position of knowing, and I don’t always end up there either.” Instead, viewers of these works are witnesses to a visual mantra, a sign and image that builds painting by painting, one through six, or two through seven.

William Monk, Untitled (zip) IV, 2020, Oil on canvas, 35 cm × 60 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Pace Gallery, New York / London / Hong Kong / Seoul / Geneva / Palo Alto.

Untitled (zip) II–VII marks the first exhibition in the second installment of Pace’s online series, which will feature five monographic shows spotlighting contemporary artists from the gallery’s roster, presented online throughout May and June. Similarly, the exhibitions to follow, by Nigel Cooke and Loie Hollowell, are each comprised of new works created by these artists during this period of isolation and will also be unveiled for the first time as part of Pace’s online program. Additionally, exhibitions by Milan-based artist Nathalie Du Pasquier and Beijing-based Yin Xiuzhen will feature recent works by each of the artists, representing a global perspective at this time of challenges shared across the world.

William Monk’s studio. Courtesy of the artist and Pace Gallery, New York / London / Hong Kong / Seoul / Geneva / Palo Alto.

William Monk (b. 1977, Kingston upon Thames, UK) paints enigmatic and vibrant works, using starkly divisional compositions and often working in extensive series that gradually evolve over time. The canvases carry irregular intensities of detail, line, foreground, and background; a sense of repetition breaks down the figuration, creating visual mantras. This rhythm happens throughout Monk’s work, surrendering figurative logic to arrive at something stranger and more powerful. Atmospheric and energetic, these paintings invite a more direct physical connection, drawing in the space between our inner and outer realms of experience.

Thomas Ruff: Space Oddity

Thomas Ruff: Space Oddity

Mai 36 Galerie, Zurich

May 06 through Jun 06, 2020


Since the late 1970s, Thomas Ruff has been exploring the structures and contiguities of the photographic medium, analyzing the visual significance and power of expression as well as the meaning of contemporary visual phaenomena.

Thomas Ruff – cassini 39, 2011

In this show a selection from the series press++ (2015), ma.r.s (2011), zycles (2008), cassini (2008), stars (1989–1992), is contextualized within a purely virtual exhibition space, offering a new look on Ruff’s concern with the various kinds of image production and most of all on his boyhood and ongoing interest on the universe and celestial bodies, stretching throughout his oeuvre. Indeed, Ruff admits that as a boy, he bought a telescope to look at the stars before acquiring a camera.

Thomas Ruff, cassini 11, 2009

Inspired by drawings found in 19th-century antiquarian books on electromagnetism, the artist used a computer program to visualize and process complex formula of linear algebra to construct zycles’ three-dimensional tangles of lines. The structures represent intrinsically logical curves, such that you can no longer discern their origin in mathematics. Instead, they bring to mind planetary orbits, the lines of magnetic fields, curved strips or loops, line drawings in abstract art, or musical oscillations. In addition, the abstract, wildly colored and vaguely geometric forms of the cassini series were taken from an archive of satellite images of Saturn and its moons, provided by the NASA online. In September 2017, the Cassini probe got in the worldwide news, deliberately disposed of via a controlled fall into Saturn’s atmosphere, ending its nearly two-decade-long mission space probe Furthermore, dedicating himself to work with original copies of the 1212 negatives of the «European Southern Observatory» (ESO) archive lead to the monumental stars series.

Thomas Ruff, ma.r.s.18

With his recent series press++, featuring photographs of archival media clippings from American newspapers and magazines from the 50’s and the60’s, Thomas Ruff underlines his strong interest for space exploration, as being one of the recurrent themes of the series. The early zeitungsfotos series from the 1990s is linked to press++, as Thomas Ruff used the newspaper photographs issued from his personal archive for this purpose, amongst which astronomy and space exploration was already one of the chosen thematics.

Thomas Ruff, 00h 46m / -30°, 1992

Thomas Ruff has regularly used scientific photographs as source material for his work and came across the NASA pictures while doing research into the image-generating potential of photography. He was utterly fascinated with the extremely realistic, naturalistic and yet strange photographs of a universe that exists outside the range of conventional human experience. In working with this material Ruff transformed the images taken straight down at a perpendicular from the orbiter into a slanted view. The resulting pseudo- perspective and the added color to the black-and-white shots emphasize the extraordinary feel of the landscapes but without changing their character. The ma.r.s series once again demonstrates the Ruff’s ability in exploiting state of- the-art technology in striking combinations of matter-of- fact documentation and formal elegance. His approach is a collaboration between a scientific spirit and imagination that spans a few centuries.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila: Studies On The Ecology Of Drama, online at Marian Goodman Gallery NY.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila: Studies On The Ecology Of Drama, online at Marian Goodman Gallery NY.

by Kostas Prapoglou

The main focus of Helsinki-based artist/filmmaker Eija-Liisa Ahtila involves aspects of identity and the ways these are formed and are interpreted through personal and interpersonal relationships. Her films and cinematic installations are survey studies on the human condition and its fluctuations depending on and dictated by external societal forces and introspective emotional realms.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila Studies on the Ecology of Drama, 2014. 4 channel projection installation; 27 min. 40 sec, Installation view at Marian Goodman Gallery, 2014. Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery – Copyright: Crystal eye /Eija-Liisa Ahtila

Ahtila’s visual lexicon embraces the cartography of poetics as these are embedded into esoteric as well as exoteric experiences. Her work often challenges the subconscious, bringing it to the fore, simultaneously activating and stimulating a dialogue with present situations.

In light of the covid-19 pandemic coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in 2020, Marian Goodman Gallery explores new avenues to bring its artists closer to a wider audience during a period of lockdown and social distancing. Online viewers now have the unique opportunity to experience Studies On The Ecology Of Drama, Ahtila’s 26-minute moving image work made in 2017. Based on the homonymous 4-channel projected installation that she presented in 2014, the film embraces two previous works, The Annunciation (2010) and Horizontal (2011), both delving into notions of ecology and symbiosis as well as the essence of existentialism within the context of our external world.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Studies on the Ecology of Drama, 2017 (video still)
Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery – Copyright: Crystal eye /Eija-Liisa Ahtila

In the form of a lecture-performance, an actress demonstrates and investigates through an eloquent vocabulary of diverse techniques, mechanisms and performative practices (such as mimicry), different approaches of representation of living forms. Assisted by other co-performers (a juniper tree, a bush, a swift bird, a horse, a butterfly and a small group of human acrobats), the actress redesigns a landscape of the polymorphic relationship between image and reality, which is being understood and constructed through the subjective qualities of space and time according to the presence of human or non-human objects.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Studies on the Ecology of Drama, 2017 (video still)
Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery – Copyright: Crystal eye /Eija-Liisa Ahtila

The visual documentation of the natural environment as the artist’s chosen terrain to pronounce our compassion and love towards the planet and omnifarious living organisms, rapidly becomes a topical subject once again. At times when everything has been brought to a standstill, we suddenly begin to observe nature and the planet as a living organism that is being automatically reset to its original factory settings, momentarily liberated from pollution and catastrophic human intervention.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Studies on the Ecology of Drama, 2017 (video still)
Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery – Copyright: Crystal eye /Eija-Liisa Ahtila

Eija-Liisa Ahtila is a former professor at the Department of Time and Space-based Art at the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts, Finland. She has presented solo exhibitions at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne, Australia (2017); Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain (2016); Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, New York and Oi Futuro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (both 2015); the Israel Museum, Jerusalem (2014); Kiasma, Helsinki, Finland (2013); Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, Mexico and Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden (both in 2012); Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois (2011), Parasol Unit, London, UK (2010) and Tate Modern, London, UK (2002).

Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Studies on the Ecology of Drama, 2017 (video still)
Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery – Copyright: Crystal eye /Eija-Liisa Ahtila

She has participated in numerous international art exhibitions such as the Venice Biennale (2005 and 1999); Documenta11 (2002), Manifesta (1998), Bienal de São Paulo (2008) and Biennale of Sydney (2018 and 2002). Her work has been featured in numerous group shows around the world including the Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg, Germany (2019); the M Museum, Leuven, Belgium and the Serlachius Museum Gösta, Mänttä, Finland (both 2018), MoMA, NY (2006) and SFMoMA, San Francisco (2003). She has been honoured with several prizes over the past three decades that include, most recently, becoming an Academician of Arts in Finland (2009); The Prince Eugen Medal for Outstanding Artistic Achievement, Sweden (2009) and Artes Mundi, Wales International Visual Arts Prize, Cardiff, Wales (2006).

Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Potentiality for Love, 2018 (Partial installation view). Moving image sculpture in 3 silent parts.
Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery – Copyright: Crystal eye /Eija-Liisa Ahtila

Ahtila’s work has also been shown at numerous film screenings and festivals, including the Sundance Film Festival, Utah, USA; Locarno International Film Festival, Switzerland; Hong Kong International Film Festival, Hong Kong, China, and film retrospectives at MoMA, Centre Pompidou, Paris and Tate Modern, London. Her works are included in the collections of the Tate and MoMA and other major public and private collections worldwide.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Horizontal – Vaakasuora, 2011 – 6-channel projected high definition installation; 6 min; Dolby Digital 5.1; Installation view at Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, 2011.
Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery – Copyright: Crystal eye /Eija-Liisa Ahtila

You can watch Eija-Liisa Ahtila: Studies On The Ecology Of Drama (2017), online at the Marian Goodman Gallery website by clicking here.

Kostas Prapoglou

My Garden of Eden – curated by Bob van Orsouw with many works of his collection at Galerie Christophe Guye, Zürich

My Garden of Eden – curated by Bob van Orsouw with many works of his collection at Galerie Christophe Guye, Zürich

My Garden of Eden
Galerie Christophe Guye, Zürich
9 May 2019 – 24 August 2019

Christophe Guye Galerie announces the new exhibition My Garden of Eden, curated by Bob van Orsouw. The exhibition includes well-known key works as well as more rarely shown works by various artists from Bob van Orsouw’s collection. Particularly noteworthy are Nobuyoshi Araki’s photographs, which present his ‘eroticizing’ gaze that extends to extremely sensual surfaces, the well-known ‘Tableaux’ by Jean-Marc Bustamante, both portraits of young people from a high school in Liverpool by Rineke Dijkstra, the experimental portraits by Loretta Lux, and the impressive architectural photographs by Frank Thiel. Further artists of the exhibition are Grazia Conti Rossini, Armen Eloyan, Gabriela Fridriksdottir, Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler, Klaas Kloosterboer, Paul McCarthy, Russ Meyer, Ernesto Neto, Julian Opie, Walter Pfeiffer, Thomas Ruff, Bernard Voïta, just to name a few. The exhibition is organised by Christophe Guye Galerie in collaboration with Bob van Orsouw.

On the occasion of the exhibition My Garden of Eden the art historian Tobia Bezzola interviewed Bob van Orsouw – curator and former gallery owner – and talked about the collaboration with the different artists:

TB: Where and how did you meet Nobuyoshi Araki for the first time?

BvO: That was 1995 when I was looking for a Japanese position in photography that I could include in my program. On the recommendation of “Camera Austria”, an Austrian magazine, I travelled to Japan. A former assistant of Araki introduced me to Japan. That was 25 years ago, and she still accompanies me and interprets. It was she who made it possible for me to get the prints and organise the transport.

TB: And did you do the first exhibition in Zurich with Araki?
BvO: That was in 1995. And I found out that in 1992 he exhibited in Europe for the first time ever. It all started with a travelling exhibition called “Tokyo Nude”, which I exhibited en bloc.

TB: How were the reactions to Araki in Zurich?

BvO: I received a lot of press inquiries and television also showed up. David Streiff, who was head of the Federal Office of Culture at the time, spoke on television. The next day there were 250 people in my gallery, although it was a Monday and the galleries are actually closed. However, it was partly a strange audience.

TB: In what way?

BvO: “Bondage” is unfortunately completely misunderstood here in the West by many. In Japan it is an ancient and very well-known tradition. But here it was suddenly open to the public and so many voyeurs came. For my assistant it was very unpleasant.

TB: Another important artist for you is Bustamante. You worked with him from a very early stage.

BvO: Yes, we worked together very early and for a very long time. We are still very good friends today. Bustamante has his own photographic position. In his photographs, he always selects individual sculptural elements, that could be a crane, a boat or a truck, or a billboard in the landscape. He always sees these objects as independent, found, discovered sculptures. He has also photographed construction sites or a cemetery from above. And he sees this cemetery, like the other objects, as a sculpture.

TB: Were you also directly involved in his Swiss project?

BvO: Bustamante had a private and a creative crisis. I invited him to come to Switzerland at that time. I financed his trip, the hotels, etc. to see what emerges from this. He really went and drove through Switzerland for ten days. This was the basis for these large-format Swiss photos, which were also shown in the Kunstmuseum Luzern back then.

TB: Another artist I remember seeing at your place very early on, before her works went around the world, is Rineke Dijkstra with her portraits of young people on the beach.

BvO: Yes, that was in 1996. That was the second exhibition I had at the gallery in the Löwenbräu area. It was Rineke’s first big solo exhibition ever. It hit big; but at the same time there was the big scandal about the pedophile criminal Dutroux in Belgium, and we got very antagonised. We had also made a book and mailed many of them. Several books, however, were returned in outrage. Also, the American museums, which wanted to show Dijkstra, cancelled all of them. But a few years later it was shown at MoMA and also by big international galleries. With her I also worked on a Swiss project, which finally didn’t materialise. It was about boarding schools, boarding schools that were to be demolished.

TB: Another artist with whom you are still friends and work today is Julian Opie.

BvO: Exactly. Julian was the first exhibition at Löwenbräu. I chose him because he occupies a significant, independent position, he starts from photography or video, only then is the computer used. He is one of the first to really use the computer, perhaps as one of the earliest, as a working tool. His visual language is truly phenomenal. It worked well; we’ve been working together for 25 years. It is still a very independent, wonderful position that appeals to young and old.

TB: You’ve also worked with Walter Pfeiffer before he really gained wide recognition.

BvO: Yes, that actually happened at the same time as he had his exhibition at the Fotomuseum Winterthur. But I knew his works beforehand. There were a lot of people who smiled at his work and said that he couldn’t photograph at all. He stepped into commercial photography with the wonderful colourful imagery he had. Throughout his life he has always photographed with small-format cameras, and because he trembles a bit, this can only be done with a flash, from which he creates his own aesthetic. And the whole set with the models was mostly in his small apartment, he didn’t really have a studio. Now he has become some kind of star photographer, he will soon have a big exhibition in London in “The Photographers’ Gallery”.

TB: Architecture has always been a big theme for you. Frank Thiel comes to mind here. When did you start working with Thiel?

BvO: I’ve never really worked with Frank, but I’ve worked with him a lot. We were friends, I was in Berlin a lot for a while, got to know each other. I arranged various architectural projects for him. And Thiel is the one for me who captured the whole building boom in Berlin with his camera, e.g. Potsdamer Platz. Now he exhibits nationally and internationally everywhere. His oeuvre is extremely independent and today he not only photographs construction sites, but also people in South America, for example. In addition, he always works on a large scale.

TB: Artists I also have a vivid memory of from your exhibitions are Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler.

BvO: The two of them came to me and absolutely wanted to exhibit at the gallery, that was also 1996, I think. Then I did a small trial phase in the back room or showroom. I wasn’t so sure, but I did a lot of exhibitions with them. Later they emigrated to the United States, where they still live. They also had their first big solo exhibition with me in the gallery. Two years ago, they were also at the Venice Biennale, where they received an award for their work in the Swiss Pavilion. For them, it’s always about film, cinema and language, and how to deal with them; that permeates their entire oeuvre.

TB: I remember the first exhibition I saw of you was still in the 1980s, in your apartment. If you look back now, what has remained of your interests? Are there also things that were temporary? Can you perhaps conclude by drawing a general summary of the many years in which you have worked and lived with artists and with art?

BvO: What has remained for me is the love for art. For me, it’s not just about the works, but also about sitting down with the artist and striving for something. I was very often in the studios, which I still do. That’s something wonderful. Because for me artists are often still pioneers in various fields and personalities that I don’t want to miss. And when I see what I have done, hundreds of exhibitions and fairs, I have to say that it was and is a great time.

All images > installation view My Garden of Eden by Bob van Orsouw courtesy Galerie Christophe Guye, Zürich

Ivan Grilo. Tomorrow, at first light at Casa Triângulo, SÃO PAULO

Ivan Grilo. Tomorrow, at first light at Casa Triângulo, SÃO PAULO

Ivan Grilo, Tomorrow, at first light
curated by Tiago de Abreu Pinto
Casa Triângulo, SÃO PAULO
01.06.2019 – 20.07.2019

Casa Triângulo presents Tomorrow, at first light, Ivan Grilo’s second solo exhibition at the gallery. The exhibition presents a new set of works that lies in the ambiguity between the intimacy and the politics. Or, as curator Tiago de Abreu Pinto says, “Are we talking about politics or love? Of something that connects these two things.” Ivan brings a fanciful narrative of a collapsing king who, through a self-criticism of the artist’s performance as an ethnographer, constructs objects and installations spinning over the current crisis of empathy (which gives rise to the democratic crisis). “The artist was never a friend of the king,” says Grilo from a newspaper clipping that he brings with him. Part of the work was conceived during the artist’s residency in New York, at AnnexB Art Residency, so they treat the displacement and understanding of migration as part of the research. “It implies a continuous act of listening,” he says.

Ivan Grilo [1986, Itatiba, Brazil. Lives and works in Itatiba, Brazil] has a core research that aims the relevance of historical and oral archives, alongside the different possibilities of reading about the same fact. Taking photography as a form of documen- tation and recording time, the artist seeks to dissect the representative, political, narrative, conceptual and aesthetic roles of the image, sometimes questioning or even rewriting the original material, blurring the memory and the action of time. Solo exhibitions: Escribe una carta de amor, Mana Contemporary + The55project, Miami, 2018; Preciso te contar sobre ama- nhã, Galeria Luciana Caravello, Rio de Janeiro, 2016; Eu quero ver, Casa Triângulo, São Paulo, 2015; Quando cai o céu, Centro Cultural São Paulo, 2014; Ninguém, Paço das Artes, São Paulo, 2011; Projeto Cofre with Estudo para medir forças, Casa França-Brasil, Rio de Janeiro, 2015. Group exhibitions: Quem não luta tá morto – Arte, Democracia e Utopia, curated by Moacir dos Anjos at Museu de Arte do Rio; Il coltello nella carne, curated by Jacopo Crivelli Visconti and Diego Sileo at PAC – Padiglione d’arte contemporanea di Milano in 2018; travelling exhibitions from Marcantonio Vilaça Prize, curated by Josué Mattos: Verzuim Braziel (states of Rio de Janeiro, Ceará and Goiás, Brazil); Lugares do Delírio, SESC Pompéia, curated by Tania Rivera. In 2017 took part of 2 exhibitions at BIENALSUR – Bienal Internacional de Arte Contemporânea da América do Sul and in 2016 participated ofAvenida Paulista, curated by Adriano Pedrosa and Tomás Toledo, MASP – Museu de Arte de São Paulo; A cor do Brasil, curated by Paulo Herkenhoff and Marcelo Campos, Museu de Arte do Rio. In 2015 was invited by Pablo Leon de la Barra for Tempos Difíceis, Casa França-Brasil and in 2012 was part of the 2nd Ural Biennial of Contemporary Art, curated by Raphael Fonseca, Russia. He was awarded in 2012 the XII Funarte Marc Ferrez Photography Prize, in 2013 the PROAC Visual Arts – Government of the State of São Paulo, in 2015 the illy SustainArt Award – SP-Arte, in 2016 the Bradesco ArtRio Focus Award, and in 2017 the Prize Fundação Marcos Amaro – SP-Arte, as well as nominations for the PIPA – Investidor Art Profissional Award. In recent years he has participated in residency programs at New York (AnnexB), Maranhão (Chão São Luís), Portugal (Triangle Network) and Italy (Humus Interdisciplinary Residence). Public collections include: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York, Pérez Art Museum, Fundación ARCO, Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand, Itaú Cultural, Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, Museu de Arte do Rio de Janeiro, Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro – Col. Gilberto Chateaubriand, Fundação Bienal de Cerveira e Museo de la Universidad de Tres de Febrero.


Marcelo Silveira, compact world of things at Galeria Nara Roesler, São Paulo

Marcelo Silveira, compact world of things at Galeria Nara Roesler, São Paulo

Marcelo Silveira, compact world of things
Galeria Nara Roesler, São Paulo
until 03.08.2019

Galeria Nara Roesler | São Paulo inaugurates a new exhibition by Marcelo Silveira on June 8th. Curated by Daniel Rangel, Compacto mundo das coisas [compact world of things] presents five series of works, united by aesthetic, conceptual and procedural affinities. The artist appropriates the “world of things” to make drawings, sculptures and installations through postcards, pieces of chairs, plastic objects and books. With a watchful eye, Marcelo Silveira searches for most of the raw material of his works in the city of Recife, choosing objects that, according to the curator of the show “gradually abandon the useless rest of the discard they suffered and start provoking the artist”.

Marcelo Silveira Acumaé, 2016/2017 freijó wood and vegetal paper 17.3 x 16.1 x 6.3 in

Post Cards

Centenary postcards found by the artist in a thrift store originate the series Irene, a name that refers not only to a Caetano Veloso song with the same name, but also to the recipient of the postcards, that received them in three addresses in Recife, between 1910 and 1920: at streets Rua da Alegria, Rua da Glória and Rua do Aragão. These addresses today, according to the artist, “are streets that the city forgot”. And it is through the questioning of how to give relevance to the memory of these places that the artist develops the series, intervening with ballpoint pen on the postcards or with stamps over their verses. Together, in a kind of frame, the postcards create fictitious landscapes or resemble an architectural coating.

Compacts with pacts

Made of pieces of chairs, the series Compacto com pacto [Compact with pact]is intended to make the visitor identify the possibilities of the object in space and the spatial dispute between the piece and who moves around it. What used to be a chair now returns to space occupying it with a graphical movement – lines that intertwine, converse and interrupt themselves. According to the artist, the series speaks of the need to establish pacts. “What motivated me in the creation of this work was the pact, the possibility of establishing dialogues and building something that is not done alone,” explains Marcelo.

Camaleão [Chameleon]

The Camaleão [Chameleon] installation is a work composed of pieces of colored paper – more precisely, the packaging of the rulers used by the artist in the production of the series Caleidoscópio [Kaleidoscope]. Together, the cutouts resemble a painting when a projection of light strikes it. The stability of the ‘painting’ is broken when one color of light projects over a surface in a different color, turning it into another color. The work allows us to reflect on the illusion one has about things and beings – and their impermanence.

Artist’s books

The exhibition also includes works from the series O Desenho da Casa [The Drawing of the House], Modernas [Modern ones] e Muito pelo contrario [Quite on the Contrary], in which the artist, in an approaching operation, intervenes with simple drawings directly on the pages of books donated by Casa do Desenho, in Porto Alegre, after its closure. “The viewer’s imagination is activated by visible titles and names, some known, some not. Most groups consist of small collections of related books or encyclopedias and dictionaries. The investigative procedure and the act of collecting are recurrent in the artist’s production”, adds Daniel Rangel.


Acumaé, according to the artist, is a simple and regional expression to ask the price of things. It also gives name to the series of sound objects made out of wood that were designed by the artist to establish seams and create a larger project that goes beyond the piece of wood itself. During the opening, the artist and the curator of the show, Daniel Rangel, will promote a kind of procession through the gallery, packed by the fusion of sounds of different intensities, generated by beats with hands on the sound objects and the singing chanted by the participants of the courtship. With a diversity of techniques and dynamics, Marcelo Silveira invites the public to enter this space which gives new meaning to time and things and, in the words of the curator, “offers us his sensitivity as a key to question our relationship with objects and people who surround us.”

All images > marcelo silveira: compacto com pacto – vista da exposição – galeria nara roesler | são paulo, 2019 – foto © Erika Mayumi – cortesia do artista e galeria nara roesler




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