Art Gallery

“Robert Walser: Der Spaziergang” (group show) @ Zink Galerie, November 23rd, 2012

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Robert Walser‘s novel “Der Spaziergang (The Walk)” has inspired Galerie Zink for the homonymous exhibition “Robert Walser – Der Spaziergang”, in which the next artists Euan Macdonald, Marcel van Eeden, Jana Gunstheimer and Natalie Czech  participate to approximate to the person of Robert Walser and his work.

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Euan Macdonald presents a bundle of 85 pencil drawings, which have been developed over a period of three years at different locations. The drawings are complemented with 22 antiquarian postcards. In his drawings, Macdonald uses the various manifestations of landscape and questions the familiarity of this phenomenon. Connecting the drawings to the postcards -from the period 1911 to 1913, period referenced in Walser’s writings and starting point of his retirement in Switzerland (1913)-, serve as historical reference. The interplay between familiarity and unfamiliarity an indeterminacy of the visual world can perfectly illustrate Robert Walser’s novel.

Marcel van Eeden used in his great drawing “Celia” (2006) long passages from Robert Walser’s “Der Spaziergang”. In Zink’s exhibition he shows the series “Herisau – Wil, 23.April 1939”, 2012. The work is inspired in a walk of 28 kilometers taken from Herisau to Wil by Robert Walser’s admirer and later guardian, Carl Seelig on 23rd April, 1939 materialized in his writing “Walking with Robert Walser”. Van Eeden uses text fragments from Carl Seelig’s report in the installation presented here. As it is usual in his work, the artists refers to events before his own birth in 1965.

Jana Gunstheimer approaches the person of Robert Walser in a sort of indirect portrait. For many visual artists, the writer, who lived between euphoria and despair, has became a fascinating person. He withdrawn himself in the protection of asylum in Waldau near Bern in 1929. In the last years of his life, Robert Walser lived fully retracted and no longer wrote. This state of isolation is what Jana Gunstheimer transfers to drawings with an atmospherically charged interior similar to a burnt house.

The work “Adieu ihr schönen Worte”, 2010, by Natalie Czech refers to a quote by Ingeborg Bachmann, but it has special validity in terms of the biography of Robert Walser: „Adieu, ihr schönen Worte, mit Euren Verheißungen. Warum habt Ihr mich verlassen, war Euch nicht wohl?“

Very free translation from me, original text in German. Text source:


‘Mortadella and Other Works’, Christoph Hänsli @ Nolan Judin Galerie, August 24th, 2012

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The painted work “Mortadella” (2007-2008) by Christoph Hänsli  is also a highly regarded artist’s book and a text by the writer and art critic John Berger (“Ways of Seeing”). Four years after its creation it is for the first time on public display. It consists of 332 individually framed paintings, which are all identical in size and technology: just under A4, acrylic and oil on paper and cardboard. 164 sized tip of a cut mortadella sausage – always two sides. Hänsli has chosen for this task an elaborate technique: hide under the visible surface, eleven building up layers of paint, first few layers of acrylic paint, followed by a multi-revision in oil, sealed with multiple glazes varnish. Also the whitish background is carefully zoom painted , so that the surface of the painted disk appears exactly at the level of cardboard carriers. Total claimed this process 15 months of work.

The effort does not serve as a hyper-realistic rendering of the sausage. Upon closer inspection it can be seen that actually the granular structure of the meat mixture can disappear through a monochrome paint in pink. The finely painted peppercorns vary its position. Even if the two sides of a disc is 1.5 millimeters mortadella meat lie, the respective successive painting not identical. The size and position of the white fat and lots of peppercorns vary slightly from image to image. Hänslis interest is the static (upper) surface and the almost endless variety of ways to build them. In the surfaces to write a history, memory and desire, their reproduction is in search of clues. Hänslis dealing with brushes, paints, pigments and glazes is masterful, and he takes for each picturesque challenge an individual solution. His image surfaces seduce the viewer to scan the painting with the eyes to detect the hidden. 

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The conceptual artist Hänsli avoids the personal gesture. As motifs, he often chooses objects that are beaten to everyday barely. He subtly conveys to the spectator. It is more than a description of reality. In its unadorned beauty to draw our attention to the images that surrounds us, and they remind us that we handle large part of our daily lives un-or subconsciously.

Besides “Mortadella” nine other works (created between 1998 and 2012) of Christoph Hänsli can be seen  at Nolan Judin. Including the 22-meter long painting facade. In none of Hänsli pictures ever a man is to be seen, and yet the images always permeated our absurd earthly existence. Without pathos and sentimentality. Despite their striking visual presence do these modern vanitas motifs create an expression of absence and emptiness of the viewer that triggers a wealth of associations.

Text source: Original in German, very free translation from German by me

‘Kultur=Kapital’, Alfredo Jaar @ Galerie Thomas Schulte, April 29th, 2012 => Gallery Weekend-1

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Galerie Thomas Schulte shows a new neon work by Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar in the gallery’s Corner Space.

Alfredo Jaar makes far-reaching connections in his works between the levels of ethics and aesthetics. Jaar frequently works with quasi-documentary images, which he presents in light boxes and which engage with the discrepancy between First and Third World and its presentation in the media. The architecture and spatial setting are also of great importance to the artist. In his installations, Jaar constantly explores the most varied image and text combinations, thereby sounding the depths of social phenomena. His neon lettering works also testify to this. The forceful, glaring lettering immediately draw the viewer’s attention, inviting him to reflect on their complex meaning.

The lettering in his latest work, Kultur=Kapital, makes reference to Joseph Beuys’ claim “kunst=kapital“. Throughout his oeuvre, Beuys repeatedly engaged with the issue of how art co-shaped society and politics, and was of the opinion that the creativity of each individual person represented the capital, and with it also the potential, of a society. Ultimately, Beuys condensed his complex theories in a formulaic equation that, in the form of multiples, became the bearer of his ideas.

Jaar’s neon work broadens the citation to include the concept of culture. Both concepts are inseparably linked by the equal sign and are mutually dependent. Within a social model, capital supports culture, while, vice versa, culture should be an essential part of our social capital. Particularly in times of financial crisis, when ever larger savings are being made in the culture budget, Jaar would like to point out that culture represents a society’s true capital.

In addition to his allusion to Joseph Beuys, Jaar also references his own installation The Marx Lounge, implemented for the first time within the framework of the 2010 Liverpool Biennial and subsequently exhibited in 2011 at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo in Seville. For that work Jaar filled a reading room exclusively with writings by Karl Marx and other authors who, today, still question the capitalist system.

28 April – 23 June 2012

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‘Alles auf Anfang. Bitte’, Birgit Brenner @ Galerie EIGEN + ART, May 10th, 2012

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Birgit Brenner’s works set in where the banalities of everyday life begin: unemployment, loneliness, status symbols and social decline or the fear of aging are topics that recur continually in her room-filling installations. With everyday situations the artist addresses very familiar societal fears in scenes that take place in inner monologues of the protagonists or between couples. What do we believe in today? Do prayers help or rather a plastic surgeon?

The cinematically told stories are spread like fragmented stage directions also over her expansive collages which she develops out of the installative works in a space and condenses in the two-dimensionality of the collage to a sequence, a multi-cross-faded still. By the means of drawings, photography and text, Birgit Brenner not only assembles diverse media on one surface, but also multiple realities as quickly-sketched pictures of the monotony of daily life up to the collapse. The works appear nearly overloaded, pieced up from fragments that don’t seem to match at first sight but still they tell a story that the viewer can decipher in a different way time and again deprived of any hints to the identities of the protagonists.

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The magnitude of information one is simultaneously bombarded with thanks to the means of modern technology is both a blessing and a curse for Birgit Brenner. A blessing, because one gets immediate access to the desired information, a curse because one can neither filter nor proceed the lot. This may lead to a lack of empathy, exhaustion or the possibility of manipulation through the generation of fear.

Birgit Brenner addresses this issue with the principle of collage, in which most diverse pieces and parts of information randomly concur, overlap, cover or complete one another. In Brenner’s collages this happens using raw materials such as brown cardboard, tape, staples and markers.

The scenes of everyday life Birgit Brenner has worked into the collages in her current exhibition “Alles auf Anfang. Bitte.” (All back to start. Please.”) turn around gold chains, tuned up cars with sports rims to the packaging of hormonal drugs prescribed against anxiety: Plain and cynical short stories about the human existence in its most trivial states.

10 May 2012 – 15 June 2012

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‘Structural Studies’, June-14 & Toshihiko Mitsuya @ DAZ, April 18th, 2012

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A collaboration between ‘June-14 Meyer-Grohbrügge & Chermayeff’ and Toshihiko Mitsuya, architects and artist, study various structures created from 0.02mm aluminum. The designs test the limits of the thin material given various kinds of loading and shape. Everyone knows aluminum foil as light and thin. It is composed only of surface, no thickness. However, it gets very hard if pressed and, moreover, it can form sensitive details, which cannot be done with clay or stone. The shapes tests the limits of the material, the seven works presented: 

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1. Door to Your Garden

2. Wall Between Us (unstable) 

3. Pillow

4. Tower Calling Your Mobile

5. Post to Lean Against

6. Curtain That We are Alone in

7. Column Supporting You and Me

In the second week of the exhibition architect and artist Alexander Schweder La will add works to the show that explore the question of architectural strength from a moister perspective. As a counterpoint to the thin becoming strong posited by June-14, Schweder La’s experiments with rot expose the frailty of the architecture that we desire to be permanent.

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‘Detail’, group show @ Galerie Open, April 5th, 2012

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A small, nondescript detail catches our eye; arrests us momentarily. Caught up in the moment, we stand and gaze at the scene or the image. But which fragment is it, and why? In the exhibition Detail,  Florian Japp, Madeline Stillwell and Peter Truschner show which moments of their perception influence their practice. Installations, collages and photographs explore how the fragmentary and fleeting reflects a wider reality.

Florian Japp (born 1971) likes to tease. Taking Franz West as his starting point, he constructs obviously non-functional large-scale sculptures in acid shades of bright. While associations with the gym (nets, balls, ropes, poles) are intended to frame the piece, these remain fragmentary. The viewer is left bemused, caught trying to imbue the pieces with functionality, but losing himself in the artist’s puzzle. The action of the pieces is thus restricted to the imagination, and one is left meandering in a slightly malfunctioning parallel universe.

Peter Truschner’s (born 1967) photographs resemble film stills with highly-saturated colours and seemingly casual compositions, fragments excised from a much grander narrative. Truschner  is a highly-regarded author, and his flair for the narrative spills over into his photographic practice. His focus is on the quietly grotesque: butchered carcasses contrast with the harmonious assemblage of a mid-day meal, the restful repose of a trader among the cluttered debris of the street. In the series Glue Trushner investigates the images come together with the personal experiences and associations of the viewer to form the delicate web which unites the depicted narratives.

Madeline Stillwell’s (born 1978) delicate collages take their life from sculptural remnants of city detritus. Decoupages taken from fragmental photographs of decaying machinery, rusting shutters or derelict outbuildings, their colours softened through wind and exposure, resemble fantastical machines. Objects are thus re-infused with life, but removed from representation, their origins no longer apparent. Stillwell thus hints at a wider reality, but leaves the viewer caught between the work’s constitutive elements and the alternative reality they suggest.

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The exhibition runs from 6th April to May 26th.

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‘Sleep Late, My Lady Friend’, group show @ Horton Gallery, April 5th, 2012

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Sleep Late, My Lady Friend, is a three-person show of recent paintings and drawings by New York based artists Joshua AbelowElla Kruglyanskaya and Daniel Rios Rodriguez.

Ella and Daniel met and became friends in graduate school in 2005. Joshua and Ella met in New York in 2010. Ella introduced Daniel and his work to Joshua in 2011. Joshua posted many of their works on his blog. Then he met Ella and Daniel at the bar and they knocked back a few drinks.

Sleep Late, My Lady Friend (After a Harry Nilsson song): Asking figuration and abstraction out to breakfast at 2pm. Eggs over easy. Coffee. More coffee. Yes, please. Ah, that’s better. My head isn’t hurting as much now, thank you. Now, where was I? Ah, yes…

A dream held at bay until the pencil squat between the forefinger and thumb. They will retired, and with it, the fear. The line displays those unseen things for all to see. At times the line is as playful and lively as a schoolyard in spring. It is a knock knock joke told after three dirty Martinis. At times it is erotic, let loose, and uncomfortably revealing. The line is lazy and inclusive, pulling in kitsch and decoration, comic books and movie posters, you and me.

Exhibition: April 6th – May 18th, 2012

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