C’era una volta / GHIRRI, LINDOW, VAN GOLDEN


11 Sep – 07 Nov, 2020

Mai 36, Zurich

Mai 36 Galerie presents an exhibition featuring works by Luigi Ghirri, Christian Lindow and Daan van Golden – three artists whose estates are represented by the gallery.

Luigi Ghirri, Modena (Serie: Catalogo), 1972
c-print, vintage
11.42 x 13.39 in (29 x 34 cm)

Luigi Ghirri (1943 – 1992) started out as a self-taught photographer in 1970 and went on to become one of the leading Italian photographers of the postwar era. He revolutionised Italian photography in the 1970s1990s and his seminal influence on photography still reverberates strongly to this day. While Ghirri endeavoured, on the one hand, to capture everyday things in an unprejudiced light, his images of architecture and landscape, on the other, bear witness to his quest for the very essence of things. He sought forms of expression that reflected the mood of the day, the Italian view of their own land, and the world in general. His photographs convey a longing for a distinctly classical aesthetic, explored in perfectly composed images, and at the same time a counterpoint, often in the form of triste scenarios that he stylised, heightened and condensed into an inimitable visualisation of his viewpoint.

Christian Lindow, Untitled (Still Life), 1984
oil on canvas
31.5 x 31.5 in (80 x 80 cm)

Christian Lindow (1945 – 1990) was born in Altenburg in the former East German state of Thuringia and settled in Bern in the late 1960s. Following on from his geometric sculptures and his work in the field of conceptual photography, he turned his attention to illustrative painting and, before long, began to combine this with processes of concretion, contamination and decay. His use of thick, heavily applied paint and rapid brushstrokes suggest a struggle with the material. At first glance, the rapid and gestural brushwork and the intensely emphatic subjectivity make these works by Lindow seem redolent of German Neo-Expressionism.
Yet the motifs are everyday things that he has chosen precisely because they are neutral in character: a fish on a plate, postcard landscapes of mountaintops and seashores, a curtain. Free of lyricism, focused on content, more laconic than vivacious, Lindow’s unique style is evident in his highly expressive works.

Daan Van Golden, Sex Pistols, 2007
c-print mounted on aluminium
27.17 x 34.65 in (69 x 88 cm)

Daan van Golden (1936 – 2017) studied at the Rotterdam Academy of Visual Arts and Technology, where he specialised in painting and graphic design. During an extended stay in Japan, his work evolved into the style that he would retain for the rest of his life. Between 1963 and 1965, he developed a technique using Japanese enamel paints, which he began adapting to create patterns on paper and fabric with meticulous precision, using such materials as tablecloths and packaging materials. On the whole, van Golden looked to his everyday surroundings and personal experiences, translating these in his own way into an artistic context that united life and art. He would create several variations on the same theme, in different colours
and dimensions, which took on an existence of their own and became autonomous motifs through his form of appropriation. Later, in similar vein, he created variations and abstractions of enlarged details from
paintings by such artists as Jackson Pollock and Henri Matisse as well as photographic works and silkscreens.

Seba Kurtis / Lockdown Project

Seba Kurtis / Lockdown Project

Christophe Guye Galerie, Zurich.

8th Jun 2020  –  29th Aug 2020

Christophe Guye Galerie announces Seba Kurtis’ showroom exhibition ‘Lockdown Project’ at the gallery. During the Covid-19 lockdown, Seba Kurtis continued his Artist in Residence at Ucen Manchester in his house.

Seba KURTIS - Egypt Deaths & Recoveries
2020; Lambda print; Courtesy of Cristophe Guye Gallery.

Using the situation as an opportunity to create new work from his vast archive of negatives using the new data of the pandemic available to the public, combined with samples of light correction filters to produce images which appear as though seen through a surreal kaleidoscope – this itself a metaphor of each individual’s unique experiences of the lockdown.

Seba KURTIS - Morocco Active Cases by State
2020; Lambda print; Courtesy of Cristophe Guye Gallery.

Seba Kurtis was born in Argentina in 1974. He studied journalism in Buenos Aires before leaving the country for Europe in the wake of the political and economic crisis of 2001. Several years spent as an illegal immigrant have informed much of his work, which explores the personal, social and cultural impact of irregular migration. ‘His photography is the sensitive extension of his robust nomad’s body with its magnanimous aura. It serves him as a performative means to talk about the world and to establish connections between world history and the individual story of his life in a sophisticated manner. As an artist Seba Kurtis is constantly on the move and is unconcerned by physical or aesthetic limits. He is among those who know that photography does not represent reality but that it is able to reveal its ruggedness, complexity and – above all – its inexhaustible poetry.’

– Stefano Stoll, Director of the Festival IMAGES in Vevey

Seba KURTIS - From Asia to Europe
2020; Lambda print; Courtesy of Cristophe Guye Gallery.

‘Kurtis has been working in areas of conflict over the last 12 years and is no stranger to the harsh realities in life that illegal immigration brings. In this isolation he has reflected on and made use of his own experiences by re-visiting past projects that didn’t make the final edit. He is now showing them in a new light amended by a form of intervention or collage used directly on his films to represent data on Covid-19. The information provided regarding the lockdown develops continuously – ‘Map of the outbreak in Arizona’, ‘Confirmed cases in France’, ‘Care Home deaths are still rising in the UK’. Kurtis represents the governmental imposed Lockdown guidance such as social distancing, combining this data with his empty landscapes and cities to make visible the rapid spread of coronavirus.’

– A. Mosley

Michel Pérez Pollo: PERFUME

Michel Pérez Pollo: PERFUME

Mai 36 Galerie, Zürich

Fri 15 May 2020 to Sat 8 Aug 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edward Burtynsky, Anthropocene

Edward Burtynsky, Anthropocene

Christophe Guye, Zurich

until 29 Aug 2020

The ‘Anthropocene’ Project is a multidisciplinary body of work combining fine art photography, film, virtual reality, augmented reality, and scientific research to investigate human influence on the state, dynamic, and future of the Earth. The exhibition at the gallery focuses on fine art photography from the series ‘Anthropocene’, dating from 2012 to 2017 as well as on the film. The works highlight the artist’s visual exploration into the global consequences of coastal erosion, logging, mining, and industrial agriculture with subjects ranging from the surreal phosphate rock deposits mined near Lakeland Florida to the psychedelic potash mines in Russia’s Ural Mountains. 

Edward BURTYNSKY (*1955, Canada)
Basque Coast #1, UNESCO Geopark, Zumaia, Spain, 2015
Pigment inkjet print on Kodak Professional Photo Paper
121.9 x 162.5 cm (48 x 64 in.)

Born in St. Catharines, Ontario in 1955 and based in Toronto, Edward Burtynsky is regarded as one of the world’s most accomplished contemporary photographers. He received his Bachelor of Applied Arts in Photography and Media Studies from Ryerson University in 1982, and in 1985 founded Toronto Image Works, a darkroom rental facility, custom photo laboratory, digital imaging and new media computer-training centre catering to all levels of Toronto’s art community. Early exposure to the sites and images of the General Motors plant in his hometown helped to formulate his photographic work.

Edward BURTYNSKY (*1955, Canada)
Chino Mine #5, Silver City, New Mexico, USA, 2012
Pigment inkjet print on Kodak Professional Photo Paper
148.5 x 198.2 cm (58 1/2 x 78 in.)

Burtynsky’s ‘Anthropocene’ explores the collective impact we as a species are having on the surface of the planet; an inspection of the human systems we’ve imposed onto natural landscapes. He has turned his lens on the terrible beauty of industrial interventions in nature such as mining, quarrying, manufacturing, shipping, the production of oil, and recycling. The title ‘Anthropocene’ refers to a proposal circulating in the scientific community to formally recognize the commencement of a new geological epoch – the Anthropocene – in which humans are the primary cause of permanent planetary change.

Edward BURTYNSKY (*1955, Canada)
Oil Bunkering #4, Niger Delta, Nigeria, 2016
Pigment inkjet print on Kodak Professional Photo Paper
148.4 x 198.3 cm (58 3/8 x 78 1/8 in.)

‘We have reached an unprecedented moment in planetary history,’ stated Burtynsky. ‘Humans now arguably change the Earth and its processes more than all other natural forces combined.’

Edward BURTYNSKY (*1955, Canada)
Phosphor Tailings #6, Near Lakeland, Florida, USA, 2012
Pigment inkjet print on Kodak Professional Photo Paper
148.4 x 198 cm (58 3/8 x 78 in.)

For ‘Anthropocene’, Burtynsky travelled to every continent, with the exception of Antarctica, and visited twenty countries including Canada, Chile, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Nigeria, Russia, Spain and the United States. Often shooting from his signature bird’s-eye view using airplanes, helicopters and drones, his large-scale photographs are rich in detail and vast in scale, sometimes verging on the appearance of painterly abstractions. His images strike an intricate balance between a sombre reportage and a powerfully seductive aesthetic. ‘Anthropocene’ reflects the dilemma between society’s desire for prosperity and its impact on the environment.

Edward BURTYNSKY (*1955, Canada)
Phosphor Tailings Pond #4, Near Lakeland, Florida, USA, 2012
Pigment inkjet print on Kodak Professional Photo Paper
148.6 x 198 cm (58 1/2 x 78 in.)

‘Humans have always taken from nature. This is normal, part of the human condition, and, indeed, a fact of life for all life forms. What is different now is the speed and scale of human taking, and the Earth has never experienced this kind of cumulative impact. If my images appear surreal at times, it must be remembered that they depict our extractive world as it is.’ – Edward Burtynsky

Edward BURTYNSKY (*1955, Canada)
Salt Pan #18, Little Rann of Kutch, Gujarat, India, 2016
Pigment inkjet print on Kodak Professional Photo Paper
121.9 x 162.7 cm (48 x 64 in.)

His photographs are included in the collections of over sixty major museums around the world, including the National Gallery of Canada; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid; the Tate Modern, London and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California. Exhibitions include Anthropocene (2018) at the Art Gallery of Ontario and the National Gallery of Canada (international touring exhibition); Water (2013) at the New Orleans Museum of Art & Contemporary Art Center, New Orleans, (international touring exhibition) and Oil (2009) at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. (touring 2009-2014). Awards and distinctions include the TED Prize, the Governor Gernal’s Award in Visual Media Arts, The Outreach award at the Rencontres d’Arles, and the Roloff Beny Book award. In 2006, Burtynsky was awarded the title of Officer of the Order of Canada. Most recently, Burtynsky was named Photo London’s 2018 Master of Photography. He currently holds eight honorary doctorate degrees. 

Jitka Hanzlová at Mai 36 Galerie

Jitka Hanzlová at Mai 36 Galerie

Mai 36 Galerie, Zürich.

Fri 15 May 2020 to Sat 8 Aug 2020 / By Appointment

Mai 36 Galerie presents the third solo exhibition of works by Jitka Hanzlová at the gallery. The artist’s wide-ranging photographic oeuvre, which evolved between the two cultural systems of East and West, reflects personal and overarching historical processes of transformation.

Jitka Hanzlová – #7 Untitled, 1993 (Yellow Earth) from ‘TONGA’, 1993
C-print, Image 28.5 x 19 cm; Courtesy of Mai 36 Galerie and the Artist.

Through her direct and meticulous approach, she lends her subjects a compelling immediacy and presence; the person and even the setting seem to address the viewer almost personally. What appears self-evident to the viewer harks back to her own personal attachment to the people and things she photographs. She studies them carefully and patiently, rather than merely making an image of them. In her portraits, it is not only the appearance and history of the subjects that are rendered visible, but also Hanzlová’s personal connections and attitudes to them. Her works reveal references to the history of photography and art as well as to media beyond the confines of the artworld. This is evident, for instance, in the series There is something I don’t know, aesthetically evolved out of her studies of quattrocento painting, as it is in Vanitas, based on scientific herbarium illustrations.

Courtesy of Mai 36 Galerie.

Irrespective of her broad knowledge of aesthetic theory, ranging from John Berger to Roland Barthes, the central focus of Hanzlová’s work is her subjective approach to that which she portrays – the subject matter she captures with a direct and unadulterated gaze, lending it an emancipatory role within the existing world.

Jitka Hanzlová – Untitled (Thunderstorm) from ‘Hier’, 1998
C-print, Image 30.3 x 20.2 cm; Courtesy of Mai 36 Galerie and the Artist.

The exhibition at Mai 36 Galerie focuses on works from the new series WATER and conceptualizes these as an integral part of the artist’s earlier and current serial work. In her latest series, Hanzlová expands on her themes by complementing them with aspects of the contemporary debate about resources, and by exploring the various ways in which the material, seemingly open to interpretation, manifests itself in seemingly self-evident ways, in the form of air, water, and ice. In addition, individual works from the series Brixton, Cotton Rose, Flowers, Hier, Horse, Tonga and the earlier series Rokytník, Bewohner and Forest are also being shown for the first time as freely juxtaposed pieces within an exhibition context, rather than as a series.

Jitka Hanzlová – UR#4 Untitled, 2018 (rust) from ‘WATER’, 2018
C-print Image 44 x 29.5 cm; Courtesy of Mai 36 Galerie and the Artist.

Jitka Hanzlová (born 1958 in Náchod; grew up in Rokytnik, Eastern Bohemia, in former Czechoslovakia) came to Germany in the 1980s and studied photography at the Folkwang Universität der Künste in Essen, where she still lives and works. Her works are exhibited internationally; most recently, until February 2020, at the National Gallery of Prague in the first major retrospective of her thirty years of artistic work. From 2005 to 2007, the artist taught at the Akademie der Künste in Hamburg and from 2012 to 2016 at the Zürcher Hochschule der Künste.

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.

Michael Williams: New Paintings

Michael Williams: New Paintings

Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zürich

12 Oct 2019 to 21 Dec 2019

Galerie Eva Presenhuber presents the gallery’s third solo exhibition with Los Angeles-based artist Michael Williams.

Michael Williams
Fantastic Man, 2019 
Inkjet on canvas
249.5 x 145 x 3 cm / 98 1/4 x 57 1/8 x 1 1/8 in
© Michael Williams. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich / New York. Photo: Marten Elder

In his exhibition, Williams shows several new paintings that further develop his oeuvre. Half of the works are large-scale inkjet paintings depicting portraits derived from photographs. To make these works, Williams first produces a small or medium-scale oil painting on canvas, which he considers a kind of study or, more aptly, something equivalent to a film photographer’s celluloid negative. These are then photographed and used as source material for the inkjet-printed paintings on view. Williams’ new works are preoccupied with the dialectic relationship between painting and photography, yet they seek to dishonor this very dialogue by stealing for themselves photography’s quality of cool detachment.

Michael Williams
How To Be A Man, 2019 
Inkjet on canvas
201.5 x 148 x 3 cm / 79 3/8 x 58 1/4 x 1 1/8 in
© Michael Williams. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich / New York. Photo: Marten Elder

Williams is jealous of the photographer’s ability to indicate meaning in a subject without first having to work through the manifold and historically charged layers, as the painter does. This feeling of envy, however, is not simply an emotional state the artist is in; it is evidence of the complex relationship between the two media. Working in this new mode, Williams has found a strategy to mediate this jealousy. Painting as the “original,” and often higher valued, medium carries with it the baggage of art history and thus delivers meaning only through the aforementioned layers. Taking photos of “real” oil on canvas portraits, Williams appropriates the advantages of photography: a clean indication of the subject matter detached from the struggle of its creation, free of physical traces of his craftsmanship, and the physicality of a corpus made of pigment and canvas.

Michael Williams
Cool Macho Man in Nature, 2019 
Inkjet on canvas
225 x 165 x 3 cm / 88 5/8 x 65 x 1 1/8 in
© Michael Williams. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich / New York. Photo: Marten Elder

In Williams’ photographed paintings all of this—the materiality, the artist’s decisions, the perceptual openness required of the viewer—is only a prerequisite, a negative of what is afterward photographed and printed. As a result, the smooth surface of the canvas, its industrial perfection frees this “negative” from its qualities as a painting—and at the same time from the historical baggage that seems to be required of a great painting. Rather than asking the viewer to parse through the medium, time, physicality, emotion, etc., the portraits are offered up fresh and clean: to be consumed, perhaps in a single bite.

Michael Williams
Southwest Computer, 2019 
Oil on canvas
287.5 x 222.5 x 3 cm / 113 1/4 x 87 5/8 x 1 1/8 in
© Michael Williams. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich / New York. Photo: Marten Elder

Another effect of this new practice is an instantaneous confusion caused by the fact that the inkjet works are installed in juxtaposition to several of Williams’ large-scale Puzzle Paintings. Using his representational drawings as appropriated images, Williams works through an analog process of drawing and collage to produce the source images for his Puzzle Paintings. The finished canvases present a discontinuous whole and summon the fragmented nature of our contemporary everyday. Many of the Puzzle Paintings share a palette and method with the photographed paintings. Williams is seemingly uninterested in the viewer’s need to determine “which is which,” however, the viewer’s desire to make this distinction is inevitable. This somewhat awkward viewing process is among Williams’ chief concerns for the show.

Michael Williams
Diagonal Composition, 2019 
Oil on canvas
249.5 x 182 x 3 cm / 98 1/4 x 71 5/8 x 1 1/8 in
© Michael Williams. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich / New York. Photo: Marten Elder

Though these works are highly conceptual, they bear a strong commitment to classical painting. Whether Williams composes his paintings on canvas or screen, they are informed by art history and pop-cultural iconography, whilst nonetheless leaving space for unexpected events to occur during the process. As a result, they emanate a sometimes ironic, sometimes funny tension that is always seductive to the eye.

Michael Williams
Perfect Painting, 2019 
Inkjet on canvas
231 x 174.5 x 3 cm / 91 x 68 5/8 x 1 1/8 in
© Michael Williams. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich / New York. Photo: Marten Elder

Michael Williams was born in 1978 in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. He has exhibited widely at venues and institutions such as: Secession, Vienna; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH; Ballroom Marfa, Marfa, TX; and the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, Moscow; The Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA; Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montreal, Montreal. His first solo show with Galerie Eva Presenhuber took place in 2014.

Tillmann Severin



JUN 09, 2019 – JUL 20, 2019

Galerie Eva Presenhuber presents the gallery’s third solo exhibition of new paintings by the American artist Carroll Dunham. Since the 1980s, Dunham has developed his visual style while creating a significant oeuvre encompassing painting, drawing, print, and sculpture. Minimalist at the outset, his abstract but organic forms became increasingly concrete, depicting series of recurrent figures. One of them is a character with a phallus-like nose that wears a hat and a suit and appears to originate from 1950s crime stories. Later, Dunham was principally preoccupied with the motif of bathers and the lush landscapes surrounding them, as well as with single trees. The personages depicted sustained several changes but always stemmed from precursory forms in his work. As in the evolutionary thought that every being still bears the DNA of the very first microbes, every Dunham canvas bears the forms and brushstrokes of the works that came before.

Dunham’s nude forms have roots in minimalist language and primitivism as well as the pictorial vocabulary of comics. At the same time, one can discover references to famous motifs of art history, such as bathers, as well as to modern artists, including Matisse or Cézanne. While these references are important to Dunham’s practice, they do not form its core. While broadly informed by art history and referring to his own canon, his works are created foremost in the act of painting, in the space between the hand and the canvas.

In 2013, Dunham painted his first wrestlers, a subject that is unexpected enough in the context of his practice and subsequently with regard to his formal approach past and present. The works show two nude men, who closely resemble each other, trying to pin each other down in an ongoing brawl, neither seeming to prevail over the other. The only distinctions from work to work are the chokeholds and other dynamic postures in which one of the wrestlers temporarily overcomes the other. However, the bruised bodies implicate that neither gains the upper hand for long. Accordingly, the surrounding minimalistic landscapes featuring a single tree seem dateless and placeless. The timeless nature of these depictions can also be said for the motif itself: on the one hand, wrestling features in mythological narratives and often symbolizes two powers – good and evil – fighting each other, for example in the Iliad, in which Homer describes a duel between Odysseus and Ajax. On the other hand, wrestling refers to a biographical fact of Dunham’s real and not at all mythological childhood in Connecticut where he used to wrestle his brother. This begs the question of whether the two identical wrestlers are brothers or enemies – or both.

Formally, the wrestlers are related to Dunham’s bathers notwithstanding their gender: the bulging extremities, the spread out toes, the round buttocks, and the button-like nipples are all familiar features. The combination of white, yet bruised skin and black curly hair resembles the physiques seen in former works, thus exemplifying Dunham’s evolutionary practice in which each painting can be seen as a recombination and mutation of erstwhile works. Zoomed in details of the male wrestlers resemble the female bathers to a tee: a body jumping into water becomes a wrestler being forced into the air by another; female hair becomes a beard if placed onto the chin; and the tips of penises are nothing more than a round shape with a little dot in the middle, as in works where pink blobs with a black line represented vaginas. The potentially sexually charged motif of two naked men grappling is circumvented by the fact that the genitalia of both figures appears as innocuous as their big toes, in keeping with the underlying geometry of genital representations in Dunham’s work.

With regard to form, the acrobatic wrestling postures appear to be not only dictated by the question of what kind of positions wrestlers can take, but also by the painterly question of how a composition can be dynamic and simultaneously fill the canvas in a perfectly balanced way. In order to create this visual equilibrium, the wrestlers are accompanied by trees, clouds, the sun, and sometimes by quietly watching animals, such as origami-like birds or a small brown dog. No matter how out of control the fight, the compositions fill the canvas seamlessly in a near uncanny way. Finally, the works on show do not only depict varying stages of an endless fray, but they narrate a story: the last two canvases seen in the exhibition are titled Blue Ending and Red Ending. In these works, one wrestler defeats the other. In contrast to the playfulness in the other paintings, the fight has now taken a consequential turn. While in Blue Ending the inferior fighter could be knocked-out, in Red Ending the superior wrestler has gouged the other’s eyes out and holds his trophies up in a drastic victory pose. Losing one’s eyes is not necessarily fatal, but it would no doubt spell the end of painting, whether from the artist’s or from the viewer’s perspective. At the end of the day, the struggle is also about seeing and thus painting. However, in Dunham’s self-generating practice one ending can only be a new beginning. A catalogue with an essay by Naomi Fry will accompany the exhibition.

Carroll Dunham was born in 1949 in New Haven, CT, and lives and works in New York, NY. His first exhibition at Galerie Eva Presenhuber took place in 2014. His work is represented in major museums and private collections worldwide, including Albertina Museum, Vienna; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, LA; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA; Sammlung Olbricht, Essen; and Tate Collection, UK. Recent solo exhibitions include Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO (2014); Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2009); Millesgarden, Stockholm (2009); and Drammens Museum, Drammen (2006). Major institutional group exhibitions include Art Crush: Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, CO (2018); Fast Forward: Painting from the 1980s, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (2017); Light/Dark, White/Black: Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, MA (2015); Pretty Raw: After and Around Helen Frankenthaler, Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA (2015); America is Hard to See, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (2015); Des histoires sans fin, Musée d’art moderne et contemporain, Geneva (2015); Painting 2.0: Expression in The Information Age, Museum Brandhorst, Munich (2015); and Disturbing Innocence, FLAG Art Foundation, New York, NY (2014).

Tillmann Severin


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

Risaku Suzuki, Water Mirror / Christophe Guye Galerie, Zurich

Risaku Suzuki, Water Mirror / Christophe Guye Galerie, Zurich

Christophe Guye Galerie, Zurich

Risaku Suzuki’s works repeatedly show his profound reflections on the particularities of the photographic medium and the constant questioning of what it means to ‘look’. With his mythical pictures, ‘Water Mirror’ invites us on a fascinating journey of perception and is probably one of Suzuki’s most representative works.

Risaku Suzuki, born in 1963 in Shingu City, Wakayama, began using photography as medium for his creative output after graduating from Tokyo College of Photography in 1987. Today he is one of Japan’s best-known photographers. Suzuki has exhibited worldwide and received numerous awards, including the Kimura Ihei Award, the most prestigious award in the field of photography in Japan. In addition to photographing his hometown Kumano, which might be called his lifelong project, he has used different approaches to shoot a variety of subjects, ranging from cherry blossoms, snow, Mt. St. Victoire in the South of France, and Cezanne’s studio. His various projects, however, consistently display a critical awareness of the act of seeing and the unique characteristics of the photographic medium.

‘Water Mirror’ is a condensation of all that makes Suzuki’s photography so appealing: his profound ruminations on the subject of photography itself and the continuous questioning of what it means to ‘look’. The series ‘Water Mirror’ explicitly shows the artist’s engagement with the origins of representation and the principles of the photographic medium, which become deeper and deeper in the three years in which he took the pictures.

“Our eyes gather and sort visual information and the brain creates a coherent understanding of a scene as a whole. But the water surface is an exception, as it acts like a mirror creating complicated optical effects. For example, when you are on a lake and look into the water, it looks different depending on where you place your focal point. Let us focus on the reflection in the water. Trees surrounding the lake are just as lush and verdant in the reflected image, while clouds that ought to be far up in the sky float there tantalizingly, almost within arm’s reach. The sight of a space seemingly of extraordinary depth appearing in the flat surface of the water is one of mystery, and our gaze is lured, sucked even, deep into this world we can see.”

Risaku Suzuki

Just as with a mirror you can see how the trees are captured in the water that reflects them. When you look at the water through the lens of a camera, the leaves are shown in utter verisimilitude, making it impossible to distinguish the reflections from the actual trees standing in the soil and air.

The result is a mimetic representation that only exists within the photographs. These scenes would not exist without the intervention of the camera and the lens. In their presentation, Suzuki nonchalantly interchanges the positions of air and water by switching the vertical orientations of the photographs. Sometimes he shows the reflection exclusively. Sensing a slight strangeness, we re-examine the photograph. Trying to determine whether the photograph is of trees or their reflection, we realize that originally, the photograph is itself a reflected image. Looking at a photograph and looking at a water mirror become parts of an interlaced visual experience.

Since the methodology of ‘Water Mirror’ was developed from the production process of photography and was created in this form as well, the works themselves have become an idiosyncratic photographic theory. With its luscious, thoughtful images, ‘Water Mirror’ invites on a fascinating voyage of perceptions and will probably become one of Suzuki’s most representative works.

Images > Courtesy of the artist and Christophe Guye Galerie




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