Formafantasma CAMBIO

Formafantasma CAMBIO

Serpentine Galleries, London

Until 17 May 2020

COVID-19 UPDATES > This exhibition is closed to the public until further notice

Formafantasma (Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin, b. 1983 and 1980, Italy) are designers who dissect the ecological and political responsibilities of their discipline. Their holistic approach reaches back into the history of a particular material used by humans, out towards the patterns of supply chains that have developed to support and expand its use, and forward to the future of that material’s survival in relation to human consumption.

Cambio, from the medieval Latin cambium, ‘change, exchange’, is an ongoing investigation conducted by Formafantasma into the governance of the timber industry. The evolution of this form of commerce over time, and its tentacular expansion across the globe, has made it difficult to regulate. It grew out of the bioprospecting that took place throughout colonial territories during the nineteenth century, becoming one of the largest industries in the world both in terms of the revenue it generates and the impact it has on the planet’s biosphere.

The earliest objects in the exhibition are samples of rare hardwoods first exhibited in the Great Exhibition of 1851, a few hundred metres from this building, some of which come from trees logged to the point of extinction. The newest are the exhibition displays and seating designed by Formafantasma, all of which were made from a single tree blown over in a storm in northern Italy in 2018. Contained in every piece of wood is an archive of climatic change and the movement of natural materials around the world. Cambio also references the cambial layer, a membrane that runs around the trunk of trees, producing wood on the inside, a record of the tree’s past, and bark on the outside, enabling it to keep growing. Like the rings of a tree, the central spaces of the exhibition present data and research in the form of interviews, reference materials and two films made by Formafantasma in response to their research, while the perimeter spaces offer a series of case studies that provide insight into the way wood is sourced and used. Each of these investigations represents a collaboration with experts from the fields of science, conservation, engineering, policymaking and philosophy. Together, they move from a microscopic analysis of wood and its ability to store carbon dioxide to a metaphysical understanding of trees as living organisms.

This multidisciplinary exhibition highlights the crucial role that design can play in our environment, and its responsibility to look beyond the edges of its borders as a discipline. The future of design can and must attempt to translate emerging environmental awareness into a renewed understanding of the philosophy and politics of trees that will encourage informed, collaborative responses.

Images > Formafantasma, Cambio, Installation view, Serpentine Galleries, London Photo: George Darrell

JEAN-FRÉDÉRIC SCHNYDER at EVA PRESENHUBER, NEW YORK

JEAN-FRÉDÉRIC SCHNYDER at EVA PRESENHUBER, NEW YORK

EVA PRESENHUBER, NEW YORK

Until April 19 2020

COVID-19 UPDATES > open by appointment only until further notice

Schnyder began producing experimental objects in the late 1960s within the context of pop art and has since gone on to create a broad oeuvre encompassing photographs, sculptures, paintings, objects, and installations. Conceptually and radically open in his artistic process, each series of works he creates leads to a new experimental arrangement. Accordingly, Schnyder does not simply adhere to an overarching concept, but rather meticulously focuses upon his subject, thereby coming up with ever-new concepts. The result of this unique openness is an oeuvre full of discontinuity; some of his approaches are so different from each other that they seem to be all but mutually exclusive.

In this exhibition, Schnyder gives us an overview of his paintings from the 1970s up until 2000, and shows the room-installation Hüter der Schwelle (Guardians of the threshold) from 2014. In the 42 predominantly small-format pictures, which the artist has arranged especially for this presentation, one can witness surprising continuities and breaks in Schnyder’s work, which offer a glimpse into his thinking process. 

The only large-format canvas on view, Stillleben (Still Life) from 1970, is one of Schnyder’s first paintings. It was initially shown in 1971 at La Biennale Paris together with the pictures Akt (Act) and Landschaft (Landscape). This exhibition was a sensation in more than one way. Just two years earlier, Schnyder had displayed conceptual objects in the exhibition When Attitude Becomes Form at Kunsthalle BernTherefore, paintings constituted a new medium for the artist, and displaying paintings in Paris meant going against the grain, as the medium was considered passé in the early 1970s. The Paris show was indeed not attuned to painting, so much so that Schnyder displaying paintings was interpreted as a unique conceptual statement, even though the works were not created under the guise of a concept, but rather reflected the artist’s genuine interest in a medium he was beginning to discover for himself. Many important aspects of later works can be found in Stillleben (Still Life). 

Stillleben, Akt, Landschaft (Still Life, Act, Landscape) represent the three most common motifs in art history. This interest in existing and common practices is typical of the artist. It is almost impossible to discern a stylistic development within Schnyder’s oeuvre; style never being an aspect of the painter’s individual development, but rather a means the artist draws upon for each painting or series. For this reason, his works are stylistically highly heterogeneous. 

From 1982 to 1983, Schnyder created his first series of plein air paintings: the Berner Veduten (Vedute of Bern), encompassing 128 paintings. At the time, the artist had no studio, which is why he adopted the tradition of plein air painting and began to work outdoors in Bern and surrounding areas. Drawing upon veduta motifs typical of the works of painters like Ferdinand Hodler, he again turned to the commonplace. However, he did not act as a copyist, being primarily interested in the process of painting itself. The landscapes are precise; he did not exclude a single pylon or vapor trail, which might have been removed from a romantic landscape. Inversely, Schnyder not only discovered new details in the landscapes but also in the paintings he referred to. Thus, he over accentuated artistic effects such as the corona of a sunrise in a work by Hodler, thereby reflecting the beholder’s own vision of art history.

In his subsequent plein air studies, Schnyder intensified and expanded this focus on art history and the Swiss landscapes depicted. His Bänkli-Bilder (Pictures from Benches —five of which are on display (So liebt Gott die Welt, Bei Kerzers, Stürmische Winde aus Nordwest, Das Prättigau bei Grüsch, Milten bei SchleintheimThus God Loves the World, At Kerzer’s, Stormy Winds from the North-West, The Prättigau near Grüsch, Milten near Scheinheim)—were all painted from the vantage points of different public benches. In this group lies an irresistible logic typical to Schnyder’s approach:

on the one hand, the painter does not have to choose a specific section of the landscape; on the other, these are exactly the perspectives that hikers and those walking encounter daily. Moreover, a large selection of benches allows for an encyclopedic capturing of his subject. It is part and parcel of Schnyder’s exact practice and his photographic vision that the view, which might have been unspoiled before the bench was installed, is not untouched by the time the painting was produced.

The precision and totality with which Schnyder captures his motifs lead to an ambiguity, which does not stem from an ironic attitude, but an exact perception of reality. His perspective brings something repressed to the fore like pylons or motorways, which do not fit into the archetype of romanticized Swiss landscapes but have become an accepted part of these landscapes. 

In his studio works, which include figurative and abstract pieces, Schnyder carves out this difference between the pictorial and the symbolic order. This is most obvious in the abstract Studie XVIII (Study XVIII) in which a canvas primed in green bears an also green relief spelling the letters ROT, German for red. ROT is not red.

In this extraordinary way, Schnyder projects theoretical discussions onto the canvas itself. His interest in practical solutions lets him create certain archetypes, such as a torso featuring color as the body of painting, or one of the golden rules of painting—“Fett auf Mager (fat over lean)”—painted over a canvas he did not paint himself but bought. Schnyder’s solution of how to paint another classic motif, flowers, is to draw upon a static system of pixels reminding one of early digital aesthetics as well as of color field paintings of the beginning of the 20th century. These floral paintings seem so lucid that they amount to a color theory one can perceive with one’s senses.

The paintings are accompanied by the 22-part lamp installation Hüter der Schwelle (Guardians of the threshold), which consists of banana cartons bearing holes resembling faces, but also reminiscent of typical box handles. Thus, an everyday object becomes a form. Schnyder and his family moved around Switzerland often and, in the course of these relocations, accumulated many boxes. In 2012, Schnyder decided to use the boxes as material for his sculptures and, in doing so, repurposed every part of this moving good from the cardboard to small metal brackets. The notion of reusing materials and giving them new life can also be seen in certain of Schnyder’s abstract paintings, where he saves leftover pigment from other works and then applies them with a scraper in a burst of riotous color.

The installation and the 42 paintings on display are so diverse that their assembly does not seem to make sense at first sight. However, the logic exists precisely in the fact that single works and series are the results of a rigidly methodical process, while the whole goes far beyond these systems. In the series themselves, insanity has found its system while Schnyder’s work defies any kind of systemization.

Jean-Frédéric Schnyder was born in 1945 in Basel, CH. He lives and works in Zug, CH. His first solo exhibition organized by Eva Presenhuber at Galerie Walcheturm in Zurich took place in 1993, followed by another in 1996. A solo exhibition at Galerie Hauser & Wirth & Presenhuber took place in 1999. At Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich, Schnyder has had solo exhibitions in 2004, 2010, and 2019. In 2018, Eva Presenhuber, New York showed the body of works Am Thunersee in a solo exhibition. Schnyder contributed to the La Biennale di Venezia, Venice, IT (2013); La Biennale Paris, Paris, FR (1985 and 1971); Documenta 5, Kassel, DE (1972); and Documenta 7, Kassel, DE (1982). Recent solo exhibitions have taken place in international institutions including Kunsthaus Zürich, Zurich, CH (2014); Kunstmuseum Bern, Bern, CH (2013); Ca’ Corner della Regina Venice, Venice, IT (2013); Le Consortium, Dijon, FR (2012); and The Swiss Institute / Contemporary Art, New York, US (2011). Group exhibitions in major museums include Zeitgeist, MAMCO – Musée d´art moderne et contemporain, Geneve, CH (2017); Das Fotobuch und seine Autoren, Swiss National Library, Bern, CH (2015); Drawings from the Ringier Collection Chapter I, Villa Flora Winterthur – Sammlung Hahnloser, Winterthur, CH (2015); and Ferdinand Hodler, Jean-Frédéric Schnyder, Kunsthaus Zürich, Zurich, CH (2014).

Tillmann Severin

Photo: Matt Grubb, Installation view, Jean-Frédéric Schnyder, Eva Presenhuber, New York, 2020. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich / New York

HANNAH EPSTEIN, MAKING BETS IN A BURNING HOUSE

HANNAH EPSTEIN, MAKING BETS IN A BURNING HOUSE

Steve Turner Gallery, Los Angeles

Until 28 March 2020

Making Bets In A Burning House, a solo exhibition by Hannah Epstein consisting of room installations in two separate galleries, one with a selection of handmade hooked rugs and the other with algorithmically printed digital works. In the first room, the textiles are installed in a room that looks like a video game dungeon. The floor is covered with a carpet that depicts bubbling lava and the walls are finished to resemble white bricks. The wall works include a range of imagery–a ten foot tall dragon; an animal face surrounded by mandala-inspired fists; pornographic videos looping inside rugs; a woman carrying the weight of Atlas on her shoulders; and a tornado with a small hand hidden inside. The miles of looped yarn convey that Epstein labored hard to create these works, and within her labor there is an ominous danger that threatens the viewer and maker.

The second room has a green carpet which resembles a grass lawn and all the wall works are all AI generated, made from an algorithm that analyzed Epstein’s works from the past eight years and predicted what she might create next. There also is a monitor playing surveilled content, filtered through an AI image recognition software, identifying people and objects from the first room. A single handmade work sits on the grass, a colorful soft worm, whose face goes from innocent to menacing when handled.

Hannah Epstein earned a BA from Memorial University of Newfoundland (2009) and an MFA from Carnegie Mellon (2017). Recent solo exhibitions include those at HUB Gallery, Pennsylvania State University (2019); Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto (2019) and Steve Turner, Los Angeles (2018 & 2019). Recent group exhibitions include those at Long Beach Museum of Art (2019); San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles (2019) and The Rooms, St. Johns, Newfoundland (2019). Epstein lives and works in Toronto.

Luis Xertu, Renditions of impermanence at Torch Gallery, Amsterdam

Luis Xertu, Renditions of impermanence at Torch Gallery, Amsterdam

Torch Gallery, Amsterdam

until 25 April 2020

by Doron Beuns

Life is inherently ephemeral and fragile. Mother Nature could take life at the same rate of creation, even in the most prosperous and medically advanced societies. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has proven that possibility beyond the stretch of our collective imagination. Until the public health crisis, most of us were not at all used to dealing with mercilessness of Mother Nature, at least not on a daily basis. Being constantly confronted with the finitude of life could therefore easily unsettle us. However, one thing that could actually help us deal with this unsettlement is a work of art. At its best it could help us to come to terms with mercilessness of Mother Nature and find consolation in its sublime beauty. Luis Xertu’s first solo presentation at Torch Gallery in Amsterdam could not have been scheduled at a more interesting time in that respect. 

Luis Xertu at Torch Gallery Amsterdam, curated by Valentijn van der Hulst

The paintings of Luis Xertu depict shadowy figures in gloomy natural scenes made from real plants that are directly glued onto dark canvases. Some of these plants appear to be freshly picked and relatively vital whereas other plants are as faint as the figures in the painting. A sense of vitality has been lost or will be lost over time in a Luis Xertu painting. Everything seems to be caught in the midst of fading away into oblivion. That which really disintegrates within the painting and that which disintegrates in our imagination become one. 

Luis Xertu at Torch Gallery Amsterdam, curated by Valentijn van der Hulst
Luis Xertu, God’s First Creature, 2016  
Luis Xertu, The Voyeur, 2019

Luis Xertu consistently blurs distinctions between pictorial and material elements in his paintings. This mostly applies to how or where the plants are applied onto the canvas. When we pay attention to how the plants are applied we may notice that the plants remain flat on their own but suddenly return to three dimensions when they partake in a composition. If we then on the other hand pay attention to where the plants are applied (and where they are not applied), we may notice that the smooth dark space could function as a background in one part of a painting but could suggest a tree -branch, water-source or figure in another. 

Luis Xertu, Young Kronos, 2020
Luis Xertu, The Three Fates, 2019 

Positive and negative are constantly at odds with each other in Xertu’s paintings. Not just visually but also conceptually; we on the one hand observe the dismal ephemerality that comes with the passing of time but on the other hand observe subjects that leisure away. They are enjoying nature rather than being concerned with its laws. This is where a possible concern about human finitude makes place for the beauty of obsolescence in Xertu’s paintings. They rightfully acknowledge that human experience has always existed on the exact borderline of these two domains. It is up to us where we place the emphasis, especially today.

Luis Xertu, The Number Two, 2020

Mariken Wessels ‘NUDE – Arising from the Ground’

Mariken Wessels ‘NUDE – Arising from the Ground’

THE RAVESTIJN GALLERY, Amsterdam

14 March – 25 April, 2020 

Comprising of sculpture, photography and film, and inspired by a series of Eadweard Muybridge collotypes, Wessels’ most recent work explores the motion of obese bodies and the animalistic aspects of the human form. Nude – Arising From The Ground was partly premiered at Art Rotterdam 2019, but this exhibition aims to give time and space for the entire work to be seen. In autumn 2020, the project will be part of a group show entitled Human After All: Ceramic Reflections in Contemporary Art at Museum Princessehof in Leeuwarden. Other participating artists are Geng Xue, William Cobbing, Klara Kristalova, Kris Lemsalu, Leiko Ikemura, Liliana Porter, Sharon Overmeieren, Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg. Curated by Tanya Rumpff.

Nude Upside Down and Back Again I, 2018
Nude Upside Down and Back Again II, 2018
Nude , Water and Green Leaves II, 2018
Nude , Water and Green Leaves III, 2018
Nude Upside Down and Back Again VII, 2018
Nude Upside Down and Back Again VIII, 2018
Nude , Water and Green Leaves IV, 2018
Model-Stop-Motion I, 2018

Amsterdam-based artist Mariken Wessels (NL, 1963) creates artist’s books, sculptures, installations, photo series and film works. Her multilayered projects offer poignant picture stories,combining appropriated (vernacular) imagery and self-produced images, usually featuring female protagonists struggling with life.

TONY LEWIS THE DANGERS (AS FAR AS I CAN SEE)

TONY LEWIS

THE DANGERS (AS FAR AS I CAN SEE)

Massimo De Carlo Gallery, MILAN / BELGIOIOSO

until 28.03.2020

“What is Dangerous here is a turning away from…the turning away from…anything any white American says…but I don’t know, and neither does Martin Luther King- none of us know- how to deal with those other people… who don’t believe anything the white world says, and don’t entirely believe anything I or Martin say.”
– James Baldwin

Tony Lewis’ practice focuses on the convergence of semiotics, abstraction and drawing: graphite pencil and paper are the mediums the artist uses to trace and create linguistic narratives and reflections on gestural expression. For this exhibition, the artist is presenting a new body of work that is composed of a series of drawings, seemingly simple abstractions, which conceal intricate narratives, based on a nine-year examination of William F. Buckley Jr.’s argument from his famous 1965 debate with James Baldwin.

The Debate between the author and literary ambassador for American civil rights Baldwin and one of The Godfather’s of modern American conservatism Buckley, which took place at the Cambridge Union, was a crucial contest in the fight over civil rights: the proposition before the house was “The American Dream at the Expense of the American Negro.” Enshrined on YouTube and in countless documentaries, the battle remains an uncanny exchange.

The Transcript and video documentation of Buckley’s argument is the source material the artist revisits cyclically. The Dangers takes its title directly from Buckley himself:

“…where the negro is concerned, the dangers as far as I can see at this moment, are that they will seek out for some sort of a radical solution on the basis of which the true problem is obscure.”

The large-scale works showcased in The Dangers are the trace of the evolution of Tony Lewis’ investigation on abstraction as well as figuration as a means of communication. Prompted by the words of James Baldwin stated above, Lewis performs the notion of “turning away from” by actively challenging his natural impulse, and listening to Buckley’s language, thesis, and rhetorical strategies.

Lastly, The large graphite on paper sculptures the artist refers to as “floor drawings” have been activated throughout the exhibition to perform the act of listening to Buckley’s argument, as well as embody the discomfort and inevitable distortion of a physical body after years of listening.

Ishbel Myerscough Grief, Longing, and Love

Ishbel Myerscough Grief, Longing, and Love

FLOWERS Gallery, London

4 March – 11 April, 2020

Myerscough is recognised for her highly detailed and meticulously observed portrayal of her subject matter, which over the past three decades has primarily included herself, her close friend and fellow artist Chantal Joffe, and their families. In this exhibition, Myerscough combines a focused study of youth and coming-of-age with adult experiences of parenthood, desire and bereavement, evoking the complex cycle of human experience.

Ishbel Myerscough, Two Painters, 2019

Paintings of sleeping and resting figures record moments of flux from childhood to teenage and young adulthood, which Myerscough describes as a ‘passing over’ from one state to another. Here, subjects are depicted lounging on beds or sofas, as though waiting or suspended in time. Often painted with eyes closed, Myerscough’s figures reflect the hidden or inaccessible inner lives of others, distancing the sleeper from the close familial gaze.

Ishbel Myerscough, Bella, red, 2019

Beds in Myerscough’s paintings are swathed in mis-matched striped patterns or swirling floral sheets, revealing a fascination with finding beauty within the everyday domestic environment.The frayed threads of careworn upholstery pull textile designs into abstraction, while fabrics can also transform the reclining figures into a tangle of partially revealed limbs.

Ishbel Myerscough, Teenage, 2019

A double portrait of herself with Chantal Joffe depicts the two painters with brushes in hand, alongside Myerscough’s daughter, who has been a subject of both artists’ work throughout her life. Across their long friendship, Myerscough has reflected their evolving personal stories and shared experiences of female identity and motherhood. In this image, as with other smaller detailed self-portraits in the exhibition, Myerscough addresses a new cycle of transition with unflinching clarity.

Ishbel Myerscough, Lilly and Quaye sleeping, 2019

ABOUT ISHBEL MYERSCOUGH

Ishbel Myerscough studied at Glasgow and the Slade Schools of Art; she won the National Portrait Gallery’s annual BP Portrait Award competition in 1995 and as a result was commissioned to paint Helen Mirren’s portrait for the collection and subsequently Sir Willard White. Her portrait Two Girls (1991), was displayed in the exhibition Self at the Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK in 2015 and at the National Portrait Gallery, London, until November 2016. Her work was presented in a joint display Friendship Portraits: Chantal Joffe and Ishbel Myerscough at the National Portrait Gallery in 2015, capturing their very particular artistic collaboration; and recently was included in the exhibitions Only Connect, Royal Academy of Arts, Keeper’s House, London; and Relating Narratives – A Common World of Women, The Horse Hospital, London, 2018.

Tuan Andrew Nguyen, A Lotus in a Sea of Fire

Tuan Andrew Nguyen A Lotus in a Sea of Fire

James Cohan, New York

28 February – 03 May, 2020

Tuan Andrew Nguyen’s work explores the power of storytelling through video and sculpture. His projects are based on extensive research and community engagement, tapping into inherited histories and counter-memory. Nguyen extracts and re-works dominant, oftentimes colonial histories and supernaturalisms into imaginative vignettes. Fact and fiction are interwoven in poetic narratives that span time and place.

TUAN ANDREW NGUYEN
The Boat People (still)
2020
Single-channel video, 4k, Super 16mm transferred to digital, color, 5.1 surround sound
Ed. of 5 + 2 AP

The centerpiece of the exhibition is The Boat People, a single channel video installation displayed alongside hand-carved wooden sculptural objects. Set in an unspecified post-apocalyptic future at the precarious edge of humanity’s possible extinction, the film follows a band of children led by a strong-willed and resourceful little girl. Calling themselves The Boat People, they travel the seas and collect the stories of a world they never knew through objects that survived over time. The group replicates the objects they discover in wood as a way to piece together a history they are trying to understand. They then burn the carvings and scatter the ashes in the ocean to set the objects free. The little girl, who we discover is the last woman on earth, comes face to face with a mysterious statue head buried in the sand on the beach. They engage in a dialogue that explores concepts of a future and a past world through an existential lens. This dialogue, both literally and figuratively, brings the dead object to life again.

TUAN ANDREW NGUYEN
The Boat People (still)
2020
Single-channel video, 4k, Super 16mm transferred to digital, color, 5.1 surround sound
Ed. of 5 + 2 AP

The video centers itself around a series of objects found in and around Bataan, Philippines and anchors itself to the multiple layers of history in wars, migration, and perseverance contained in the land itself. Several of the beautifully hand-carved and charred wooden replicas that populate the video are displayed in the gallery. Ritual burning has a long and complex history throughout Southeast Asia, both in the Philippines and in Vietnam, where today people burn paper currency and votive replicas of contemporary luxury items—houses, cars, smartphones folded from paper—as an offering of good fortune to their dead. In The Boat People, fire is used as a metaphor for remembrance, creating a porosity between the realms of the living and the dead. It acts as both an agent of destructive change and of transformative liberation. 

TUAN ANDREW NGUYEN
The Arrival of The Boat People, 2020

Nguyen is interested in objects that have survived through time: objects that humanity has created, and in turn inherited. His work parses both the stories objects contain and our memories of the objects themselves. In The Boat People, the children discover and engage with artifacts from a refugee crisis, a world war and its attendant atrocities, and some of the earliest human migrations. They encounter Japanese machine guns, American-made gas-masks, a memorial to a World War II massacre, refugee boats, the hands and head of a Quan Yin, the female buddha of compassion, and a kampilan, a traditional Filipino blade that resembles the famous sword the hero Lapu Lapu used to slay Magellan. When the children recreate these objects, their actions highlight the nature of the replica, of the copy as a reflection on the authenticity of experience and the transference of memory. 

TUAN ANDREW NGUYEN
Not The Smell of Napalm, 2019
Hand-carved gmelina wood
23 in. high (58.4 cm)
Wooden base: 13 x 12 x 2.5 in. (33 x 30.5 x 6.4 cm)
Pedestal: 30 x 30 x 4 in. (76.2 x 76.2 x 10.2 cm)

The coastline of Bataan has borne witness to waves of migration and the movement of people both reaching for their freedom and of people seeking to take that freedom away from others, and carries the physical traces of all these journeys. The ocean that abuts this coast is a space of transition and of opposition. It is into this ocean that the children scatter the ashes of their totemic objects, in order to set them free, rendering the ocean a repository for memory. 

The Boat People was co-produced by Bellas Artes Projects and James Cohan, New York. 

Tuan Andrew Nguyen received his BFA from the University of California, Irvine in 1999 and an MFA from The California Institute of the Arts in 2004. In addition to several awards in both film and visual arts, including an Art Matters grant in 2010 and best feature film at VietFilmFest in 2018, his work has been included in international exhibitions including the Asia Pacific Triennial 2006, Whitney Biennial 2017, and the Sharjah Biennial 2019. In 2006, Nguyen co-founded The Propeller Group, a platform for collectivity that situates itself between art collective and advertising company. Accolades for the group include the grand prize at the 2015 Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterthur and a Creative Capital award for its project Television Commercial for Communism. Besides a major travelling retrospective that began at the MCA Chicago, the collective has participated in international exhibitions including The Ungovernables [2012 New Museum Triennial], 2012 LA Biennial, Prospect3 [2014 New Orleans Triennial], and the Venice Biennale 2015.

Charles Atlas OMINOUS, GLAMOROUS, MOMENTOUS, RIDICULOUS

Charles Atlas OMINOUS, GLAMOROUS, MOMENTOUS, RIDICULOUS

ICA – INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ART, MILAN

29 February – 19 April, 2020 

CHARLES ATLASOMINOUS, GLAMOROUS, MOMENTOUS, RIDICULOUS, the first solo exhibition in an Italian institution dedicated to Charles Atlas (St. Louis, 1949), internationally renowned filmmaker and video-artist. Curated by Alberto Salvadori and developed in close collaboration with Charles Atlas, the exhibition presents new and recent works alongside historical pieces, contextualizing the most significant periods of the artist’s oeuvre in an installation that will transform the foundation into an immersive environment. 

Charles Atlas, Hail the New Puritan, 1986, 16mm film transferred to video, sound; duration: 84’54’’. © Charles Atlas; Courtesy the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York.

Atlas is well known for his innovative and groundbreaking video-based practice. For more than forty years he has explored the dialogue between different disciplines such as video, dance, and performance. His work has stretched the boundaries of film and video, including installations, documentaries, works for television, multimedia projects, and live performances.

Charles Atlas, Hail the New Puritan, 1986, 16mm film transferred to video, sound, Duration: 84:54 minutes © Charles Atlas; Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York.

Following the exhibitions by Masbedo and Simone Forti, Fondazione ICA Milano continues the focus on investigations related to the themes of the living and the body. By presenting work which uses performance and video art as an expressive means and research tool, Atlas’ show carries through April 2020 this shared thread which has characterized the exhibition program since the start of the Fondazione. 

Charles Atlas

Atlas was born in St. Louis, MO in 1949; he has lived and worked in New York City since the early 1970s. Recent solo exhibitions include The Kitchen, New York; the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; De Hallen, Haarlem; Bloomberg SPACE, London; and Museum of Modern Art, New York. In 2017, the Hammer Museum acquired Atlas’ five-channel video installation with sound entitled The Tyranny of Consciousness, which had been recently featured in Viva Arte Viva, the 57th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennial. Atlas’ work is included in the permanent collections of major institutions worldwide, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; San Francisco Museum of Art; Tate Modern, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin; Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich; and De Hallen Haarlem, The Netherlands. In 2017, Atlas and choreographers Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener premiered Tesseract, a new two-part work consisting of a stereoscopic 3D film and dance performance with live cinematic mixing. In September 2019 Atlas will unveil a new commission for Art on theMART, the piece will span across the 2.5 acre river-façade of theMART in Chicago.

Bernd and Hilla Becher, Sarah Charlesworth, Sherrie Levine

Bernd and Hilla Becher, Sarah Charlesworth, Sherrie Levine

Paula Cooper Gallery, NY

29 FEBRUARY – 04 APRIL , 2020

Paula Cooper Gallery announces an exhibition of works by Bernd and Hilla Becher, Sarah Charlesworth, and Sherrie Levine, curated by Sherrie Levine, the exhibition brings together three related approaches to conceptual image-making, (post-)modernism, and the genre of the still life—understood both as a depiction of everyday inanimate objects, foods or flowers, and in a broader sense, as a formal representation of a specific time and place through its cultural artifacts.

Sherrie Levine, Salubra 3, 2007, oil on mahogany and wall paint, 14 parts: 27 x 27 in. (68.6 x 68.6 cm), overall dimensions variable; painted rectangle on wall 65 in. (165.1 cm) height, length variable

Beginning in 1959, Bernd and Hilla Becher pursued a project of systematically documenting industrial architectural forms—an objective that took inspiration from the precisionist approach of the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) artists August Sander, Karl Blossfeldt, and Albert Renger-Patzsch of the 1920s. Post-war Germany’s ubiquitous cooling towers, gas tanks, blast furnaces, and grain elevators—remnants of a fevered industrialization—provided the Bechers with the raw matter for their “typologies,” an effort to visually organize and render comparable the unique details of each structure and the intricate relationship between form and function. For the artists, these typologies were conceptual categories based on the general ideas used to sort a large body of information. “We didn’t really see it as artists, we saw it as something like natural history,” Hilla Becher noted in 2012. “So we also used the methods of natural history books, like comparing things, having the same species in different versions.” In the twilight of the industrial age, this loving census of steel and cement structures charts the outlines of a still life of modernity.

In 2006, Sarah Charlesworth produced her Concrete Color series—still life inspired photographs of precisely ordered dishes of hand-mixed paint. Set against white or gray backgrounds and completed with lacquered frames, the images visualize classical theories of color as well as contemporary tools in digital photography. “I’m interested in the idea of using art materials, the medium, as the subject and really examining the formal elements of art-making as content,” the artist noted. In Munsell Tree and Ostwald Triangle, Charlesworth reproduces early twentieth-century color systems, respectively theorized by the American inventor Albert H. Munsell and the German chemist Wilhelm Ostwald. In RGB Cube, she punctuates the eight corners of a Necker cube with various pigments—a nod to Gestalt psychology and the study of spatial interpretation in visual representation. Within other works, such as CYM Gray and Color Patch, Charlesworth embeds a Kodak Gray Scale or Color Control Patch that is mirrored in the configuration of the potted paints. Reflecting and questioning commercial tools and standards, the works reveal the constructed nature of photography—a conceptual investigation that Charlesworth pursued throughout her career.

Sarah Charlesworth, Dress Macleod (Lewis), 1982-1983, black and white print, mounted with color adhesives and lacquered frame, 33 1/4 x 25 3/4 x 1 1/2 in. (81.9 x 65.4 x 3.8 cm)

Sherrie Levine’s Salubra 3 reference color charts produced by renowned architect Le Corbusier for the Swiss wallpaper company Salubra in 1931. Published as an interactive design guide, Le Corbusier’s collection included twelve ‘Clavier de couleurs,’ or ‘Color Keyboards’—each consisting of a different combination of the forty-three ideal tones in his suite. The architect believed that specific shades produced specific effects and could thereby alter a person’s perception of space. Identifying functions that could be applied to different shades—including psychological effects, weight, depth, perception, and unity—he created the color palettes, or keyboards, to reflect each of these. The fourteen monochrome panels of Salubra 3 represent Le Corbusier’s third color keyboard. Levine’s postmodern revisiting of Le Corbusier, a kind of über-realistic still life, proposes a heightened, sensuous experience of the architect’s chromatic range, while also laying bare for reappraisal the utopian ideals at the core of High Modernism and the International Style.


PUBLICATION LISTED IN THE ITALIAN PRESS REGISTER BY THE SASSARI COURT OF LAW WITH REGISTRATION NUMBER 447/2017.
EDITOR IN CHIEF: ALICE ZUCCA

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