Saturday, March 19, 2016

Takesada Matsutani - Hauser & Wirth Zürich. Vernissage 18.03.2016

19 Mar – 21 May 2016, Hauser & Wirth Zürich

Opening: Friday 18 March 2016, 6 – 8 pm

Press release: Beginning 19 March 2016, Hauser & Wirth will present the gallery’s first Zurich exhibition devoted to internationally-admired Osaka-born, Paris-based artist Takesada Matsutani. Over a five-decade career that began with his participation in the Gutai Art Association and evolved to express the tangled complexities of a life lived between France and Japan, Matsutani has developed a unique visual language of form and materials. His work plays with notions of time and the movement of our bodies through it. Engaging themes of the eternal and the infinite, and echoing the endless cycles of life and death, Matsutani merges material, hue, and movement to arrive at an art about the present moment and the reverberating forces and unceasing currents from which life itself flows.
Highlighting the artist’s practice in Paris at the beginning of the 1970s, ‘Takesada Matsutani’ at Hauser & Wirth will present never before seen paintings from the artist’s early career, as well as a selection of drawings. Organised with Olivier Renaud-Clément, the exhibition will remain on view at the gallery until 21 May 2016.
Takesada Matsutani was a recognised member of Japan’s avant-garde Gutai Art Association (1954 – 1972), exhibiting in group shows with them beginning in 1960 and having a solo presentation at the Gutai Pinacotheca in Osaka in 1963. Developing an aesthetic in his formative years through radical experimentations with vinyl glue, the young artist impregnated the surface of his canvases with bulbous elements, using his own breath to create swollen and ruptured forms evocative of flesh and wounds. For his ability to elicit the sensual tactility of his materials and create viscerally profound new forms, Matsutani was awarded first prize at the First Mainichi Art Competition in 1966 and received a six-month scholarship from the French government to study abroad. This journey to France would transform his career. While the teachings and ethos of Gutai have exerted an enduring influence upon the artist, nearly 50 years later Matsutani still calls Paris his home.
Visitors will encounter Matsutani’s bold, colourful paintings from the early 1970s, a radical body of work that reveals the evolution of his earlier formative notions. Soon after moving to Paris and beginning work at renowned engraver Stanley William Hayter’s Atelier 17, Matsutani devoted himself to the techniques of etching, printmaking, and silkscreen. Hayter’s workshop was a centre for creative exchange and collaboration, both in Paris and New York, and exerted profound influence upon such artists as Louise Bourgeois, Salvador Dalí, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst and Joan Miró. Through the prowess of Atelier 17, American Abstraction and the New York School collided and mingled with the European avant garde – for Matsutani, Atelier 17 introduced new forms of artistic experimentation. Influenced by the theories and history of ‘the image’ in Western culture, and especially by American Minimalism and the Hard Edge paintings of Ellsworth Kelly, he began to conceive new compositions, re-arranging and testing the limits of pictorial space. Transforming the same organic and biomorphic forms he first developed in glue, the progression from ‘Le Développement-A1-69’ (1969) to ‘Two Objects’ (1970) displays the transformation of the artist’s pooling, curvaceous forms into flat geometric planes of colour on canvas.
Many of the works on canvas from the early 1970s on display at Hauser & Wirth Zürich have never been exhibited in public before. Beyond the two-dimensional re-imagination of the artist’s previous forms created in glue, these canvases bring a vibrant inventive juxtaposition of colour. His use of shape grows more complex with the works of 1972, such as ‘Harugakita’, and breaks into a dynamic intermingling of forms in ‘Sky-B’ and ‘Propagation-72’. A truly singular period in the artist’s career, the early 1970s timeframe of the current show highlights Matsutani’s committed exploration of the flattening of shapes, through a frank use of strong colours in oil on canvas.

 Hauser & Wirth

Wilhelm Sasnal - Hauser & Wirth, Zürich. Vernissage 18.03.2016

Press Release: 

19 Mar – 21 May 2016, Hauser & Wirth Zürich

Opening: Friday 18 March 2016, 6 – 8 pm

‘Painting is a natural activity, it’s primal. I think images aren’t important because of the numbers that surround us. But painting has a chance. There is always painting, like there’s song. I don’t think it needs speculation as to whether it is alive or dead… With film I am not only looking for the story but also for the language, how to depict a certain state of being.’
– Wilhelm Sasnal

Hauser & Wirth Zürich presents a solo exhibition of new and recent works by Wilhelm Sasnal, the pre-eminent painter and film-maker known for his incongruous and quietly unsettling portrayal of our collective surroundings and history. The exhibition will showcase a large number of new works informed by his recent travels to America’s southern states, and the events and crises currently dominating world affairs. Extracts from the artist’s latest feature length film, which is inspired by Albert Camus’s novel ‘The Stranger’ (1942), form the axis of the presentation.
There is a persistent preoccupation in Sasnal’s work to stay engaged with the world we live in, and perhaps more importantly, to connect the present with the past. At once curiously personal and coolly detached, Sasnal subjectively and intimately interprets the topical.
Drawing on found images from newspapers and magazines, the Internet, billboards or his personal surroundings, Sasnal’s paintings act as an archive to the mass of sprawling images that flood contemporary society. In applying a concise, photorealist approach to this eclectic subject matter, he captures stolen moments in time – his unusual cropping and graphic approach to light and colour suggest a camera’s gaze, imbuing the canvases with a filmic quality. In Sasnal’s latest series of paintings, issues relating to race, religion and the notion of ‘other’, surface. Motifs such as birds, cowboy boots and corporate logos invite the viewer to make associations with the current political climate, but, as in his films, the paintings navigate between figuration and abstraction, eschewing a definitive narrative or agenda. The power of Sasnal’s painting lies in this sense of distance created between the viewer and underlying story. Through abstraction or empty space, he generates a disquieting absence of emotional engagement.
Sasnal has long worked in film alongside his painting, viewing it as a complimentary practice and welcoming the alternative challenges that it brings. Film’s affinity with reality, and therefore its ability to provoke, also appeals to the artist. Over the past year, Sasnal has been working with Anka, his wife and long-time collaborator, on producing his fourth feature length film – ‘The Sun, the Sun Blinded Me’. For the exhibition in Zurich, an edited extract from one scene in the film is projected onto the gallery walls, creating a loop of compelling images that encapsulate the essence of the paintings on display.
The film borrows its trajectory from Albert Camus’s novel ‘The Stranger’ (1942), but the setting is Poland today, shot in Krakow and on the Baltic coast. The story also takes inspiration from Hans Christian Andersen’s dark fairytale ‘The Shadow’ (1847). Camus’s novel is narrated by Meursault, a French Algerian who, along with his friend, enters a confrontation with an Arab man on the beach. After initially preventing his friend from killing ‘the Arab’, he later returns to shoot him. While awaiting the execution of his death sentence, the reader learns that Meursault had no discernable reason for his actions and feels no guilt or remorse. The tale is existential in tone, pertaining to Camus’s philosophy on the absurdity of human existence, which he believed has no meaning or purpose.
In the hands of Sasnal, ‘the Arab’ is a black man hiding from border control and ‘Meursault’ first decides to shelter the man in his home, only to realise that this was in his imagination. The encounter is repeated, and on this occasion the man is killed by ‘Meursault’. In contrast to Camus’s story, the court diminishes the murder charges, reasoning that the crime was self-defence against a foreign criminal. Erudite and unabashed, Sasnal’s film explores the ever-salient question of what it means to be foreign today.

 Hauser & Wirth

Teresa Chen - Ambivalence. Galerie Bob Gysin. Vernissage 18.03.2016

TERESA CHEN Ambivalence
  19 March – 14 May 2016



Urs Lüthi - Katz Contemporary, Zürich. 18.03.2016

19 March - 7 May 2016

 Press Release


Friday, March 11, 2016

Stephan Balkenhol - Mai 36 Galerie, Zürich. March 10. 2016

Press Release:
Stephan Balkenhol (born in Fritzlar, Germany, in 1957) is the premier spirit behind the revival of figurative sculpture in the early 1980s. He began making his trademark figurative sculptures in response to the abstract, minimalist and conceptual strategies of the Hamburg Academy of Fine Arts, on a heritage that ranges from early Christian sculpture to Modernism. Stephan Balkenhol’s work is characterised by his colourfully painted and roughly hewn wooden sculptures and reliefs. Balkenhol’s motifs are larger-than-life or dwarflike men, women and animals, heads and hybrid figures of humans and animals sculpted from huge tree trunks. The same tree trunks also serve as the plinths, which are inseparably joined to the figure.
Marks made by the tools, grooves, fissures and cracks remain visible, testifying to the working process. This does not preclude a strong sense of realism, reinforced by the treatment of contours, the pose of the figures and the way they are painted.
In stoic poses, they seem to be in a state of suspended animation, gazing into emptiness or at a point unknown to the observer. Thus the figures remain distant, anonymous and enigmatic, and strangely lacking in emotion. The observer feels reminded of something, only to doubt his perception a moment later. This creates a feeling of discomfiture because the hyper-individual and timeless figures hold up a mirror to the observer.
Not only the men and the women but also the animals reveal nothing about themselves; they tell no stories and represent nothing. They are inconspicuous, ageless and difficult to pin down; they show no emotions and appear curiously detached. They are simply there, serenely self-contained, as if gazing into the void; they are always the same and always new. Enigmatic, nameless and timeless, they are both distinctively personal and blandly anonymous. By eschewing psychological implications, the artist brings to the fore archetypical patterns of existence and emotions, so that his figures – especially those in public spaces – also function as mirrors that reflect viewers’ feelings, desires and hopes.
Stephan Balkenhol ranks among Germany’s most renowned international sculptors. Since 1992 he has been a professor at the State Academy of the Arts in Karlsruhe. Stephan Balkenhol has been represented by Mai 36 Galerie since 1989. His works, regularly on view internationally since the 1980s, enjoy eye-catching presentation in public space in a number of major cities.
Opening hours Tues-Fri 11 am – 6:30 pm, Sat 11 am – 4 pm

Mai 36 Galerie
Rämistrassse 37
8001 Zürich

Elodie Pong – Paradise Paradoxe. Helmhaus Zürich. March 10. 2016.

Press Release:
You can close your eyes but you can’t turn off your nose. Elodie Pong, video and installation artist from Zurich, investigates the invisible olfactory architecture that surrounds us as the point of departure for her solo exhibition at Helmhaus Zürich. Visitors encounter plants that ripened in a 3-D printer, a robot that hurls the names of perfumes at the wall – and a fragrance that has never been smelled before.
Art that we can smell: this is an exhibition that charts new perceptual territory. Zurich-based artist Elodie Pong examines smells as essential vehicles of meaning and metaphors for the liquid age in which we live. Scents establish nonverbal connections between people, objects and places; scents make an impact, and not only by following our noses. Have we just crawled out of the darkness of Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” only to be immersed in a brave new world of olfactory sensations? Or does smell herald utopian and possibly even Edenic bliss, as presaged by the title of the show?
The Helmhaus exhibition offers an artistic response to these questions, creating stimulating arenas of thought and perception within the white cube that oscillate between odour and rumour. In new video works, Elodie Pong juxtaposes centrepieces from current olfactory theory with the dancing human body, as a literally vital source of many and varied odours. Pong’s sculptures – a relatively new avenue of endeavour in her oeuvre – lend fragile shape to thoughts on the vagaries of smell. Some ingredients of perfumes are now produced synthetically because the plants from which they were once extracted are threatened with extinction. Pong draws on a very contemporary device: she grows replacements in a
3-D printer, an arresting metaphor for the disconcerting developments in our increasingly synthetic universe.

In another room of this solo exhibition, the first to be organized at the Helmhaus since San Keller’s “Spoken Work”, 2012, Elodie Pong has a projector moving around in space, its movements as random as that of the untold olfactory molecules that surround us. The beamer, mounted on a robot, projects the names of perfumes on the wall, including “Paradise” and “Paradoxe”. The two words happened to appear side by side on the computer screen while preparing the exhibition and became the title of the show. Such names enable the multibillion dollar perfume industry to impose linguistic cubbyholes on something that has no words. Visual and audible stimuli can be effectively verbalized; being more elusive, smell seduces us into exploiting the benefits of eminently marketable placebos, viz. stories of paradise.
Elodie Pong has even enlisted the aid of the renowned scientist and scent investigator Roman Kaiser to create a new fragrance for the exhibition. Fragrances and our perception of them are irrevocably clear on one count: we never get a second chance to make a first impression. “Elodie Pong – Paradise Paradoxe” will impact eyes, ears and, above all, olfactory perception, creating impressions that will remain forever inscribed in the mind.
The accompanying publication “Elodie Pong – Paradise Paradoxe”, Edition Patrick Frey, Zurich, is forthcoming in April. Designed by graphic artists Huber/Sterzinger, the book expands the theme of the exhibition with texts by philosopher Georg Kohler, gender theoretician Jack Halberstam, neuroscientist Andreas Keller, and many more.
Curated by Daniel Morgenthaler.

Opening hours Tues-Sun 10 am – 6 pm, Thur 10 am – 8 pm

Helmhaus Zürich
Limmatquai 31
8001 Zürich