“Hi From California”
at Freedman Fitzpatrick, Los Angeles
May 16 2013
It all began on a full moon night in the Californian desert, a few miles away from Joshua Tree National Park. Former Tanya Leighton gallery director Robbie Fitzpatrick and writer Alex Freedman, both dressed in custom suits, hosted a pre-opening party for the launch of their gallery in Los Angeles that featured a Native American-inspired ritual of burying artworks packed in suitcases into the ground. Nestled in what used to be a medical clinic in a Hollywood Boulevard strip mall, Freedman Fitzpatrick presents an opening group exhibition reflecting the owners’ involvement in an emerging European scene and who, from Berlin through Zürich and London, have formed a reunion of artists sharing a sense of generational community. The press release of the exhibition “Hi from California” is composed by Calla Henkel and Max Pitegoff, founders of the Berlin hangout Times, and reflects a personal narrative that seems to grasp a reunion of long-time friends and collaborators. The presented works comprise a wall-size erotic/organic painting by performer Matthew Lutz-Kinoy, a series of black resin puddle sculptures by Londoner Marlie Mul, and an in-situ pipe-sized installation by Zürich-based Mathis Altmann. As to extend notions of disciplines and media, fashion designer Nhu Duong exhibits a pair of gloves in the front window, while Swiss artist Hannah Weinberger conceives a sound piece accompanying the set-up. Deliberately defined as a Los Angeles commercial gallery, yet experimenting in the style of a European non-profit space, Freedman Fitzpatrick clouds the clues and announces upcoming collaborations with Tobias Madison and Lucie Stahl. (Martha Kirszenbaum)
“Hi From California” at Freedman Fitzpatrick, Los Angeles, will run through June 1.
Katja Strunz’ exhibition
at Berlinische Galerie
May 14 2013
Paul Virilio describes the shrinking of the earth as an atopian experience in the moment of the invention of the vehicle. This “telluric contraction” was an important point of departure for Katja Strunz when conceptualizing her solo show at Berlinische Galerie, which opened during this year’s gallery weekend. For “Drehmoment (Viel Raum, wenig Zeit)” (“Torque (Much Time, Little Space)”), only two large black metal objects were necessary for the artist to tame the big entrance hall of the museum’s ground floor exhibition space. The minimalistic sculptural installation demonstrates the artist’s very different approaches towards an investment in the materiality of things, their aging processes, and particularly how they can stand in for a literal folding of space and time. The aluminum object almost blocking the way into the gallery resembles a huge crumpled-up piece of paper, whereas the constructivist steel sculpture towards the back is a gigantic but accurately folded strap, simulating the broken chain of an undefined industrial machine. When smoothed out, it is supposed to fit the exhibition space perfectly. For Strunz, the fold eliminates or solidifies space, the surface gets stored in the resulting relief, and the moment of time gains importance instead. But in its slackness the precision, scale and heaviness of the steel folds provokes a certain kind of disappointment compared to the radiating energy of the randomly crumbled aluminum sculpture. The juxtaposition is virtuously staged by Strunz in this show. (Kathleen Reinhardt)
Katja Strunz’s exhibition at Berlinische Galerie, Berlin, will run through September 2.
Aleksandra Domanović’s show
at Tanya Leighton, Berlin
May 9 2013
At her first solo show at Tanya Leighton, Aleksandra Domanović investigates technological advances and feminism in her native former Yugoslavia. Her research into the nation’s technological evolution shows that Yugoslavia was far more advanced than most Eastern European countries. In the gallery Domanović showcases a series of mechanical hands the artist fastidiously crafted from 3D models and then cast in various materials, including bronze. The portrayed hand is a duplication of the Belgrade Hand, a limb created in the ’60s by Yugoslav scientist Rajko Tomović as one of the earliest attempts to give artificial limbs a sense of touch. One of the hands in the gallery blooms out of a wall holding a baton, a reference to the Relay of Youth ceremony that used to take place in former communist Yogoslavia. The majority of the other hands, however, are placed vertically on top of Plexiglas plinths pointing upwards. On one pedestal, the artist has placed images from Donald Cammell’s Demon Seed (1977), a film whose premise details a young woman impregnated by Protheus, an artificial intelligence portrayed with a Belgrade Hand. Elsewhere in the gallery, Domanović presents a print of a lifelike Belgrade Hand adorned with fleshy mechanics, behaving like a representation of mankind’s slow evolution towards AI technological singularity. (James Shaeffer)
Aleksandra Domanović’s show at Tanya Leighton, Berlin, will run through June 30.
Michael E. Smith’s show
at KOW, Berlin
May 8 2013
The works in Michael E. Smith’s solo show at KOW are not easy to find sometimes. Loosely scattered throughout the eccentric gallery space, they are almost hiding from view in plain sight, as if it has been an enormous endeavor to get to their current positions, lurking around corners and on the ceiling, luring the viewer into coming closer. For this staging of an unearthly world of objects, the Detroit artist completed site-specific works during the installation process, employing his signature mix of all kinds of different materials, from day-to-day industrial objects like plastic bags or furniture, to undefinable organic materials. Whereas other artists working with similar materialities often go the route of visual overkill through amassing and clustering, Smith heads in the opposite direction, exposing the vulnerability of these strange compositions when simply left by themselves. The hybrid material fusions of Smith’s works often have a direct relationship to the body—be it the t-shirt spanning a large bowl, the chair in the window bearing a plastic excrescence underneath its seat, the hood of a sweatshirt stuffed with black plastic or a bundle of feathers. Through their familiarity as everyday objects they create an uncanny intimacy, forcing themselves upon the viewer in their disturbing materiality that lies in between life and death. (Kathleen Reinhardt)
Michael E. Smith’s show at KOW, Berlin, will run through July 21.
Michel Majerus’s exhibition
at neugerriemschneider, Berlin
May 7 2013
The mysterious and reclusive Berlin gallery/showroom neugerriemschneider spread itself thin across three different locations during the city’s colossal Gallery Weekend. Exhibiting solo projects by Isa Genzken and Billy Childish, neugerriemschneider dedicated a large space in Prenzlauer Berg to the late Luxembourger artist Michael Majerus. Majerus, whose rising career was cut short in a tragic plane crash in 2002, has exhibited with neugerriemschneider before. Known for his large-scale colorful paintings that combine paint with digital alterations, Majerus made a career out of carrying Pop Art into the 21st century. At neugerriemschneider last weekend, the gallery exhibited several pieces that each seemingly respond to singular Pop Art titans of the previous century. A large black shark printed on pink cloth hung on one wall brings to mind Sigmar Polke. Another painting in the back recalls the collaged canvases of James Rosenquist, while an additional triangular work mimics a colorful Kenneth Noland or early Judy Chicago. Towards the entrance, however, a giant print of a magazine advert featuring King Kong adorned with Christmas decorations predicts later works by Kelley Walker. While a lot of retrospectives can show how dated work can become after an artist’s death, Majerus’s showcase at neugerriemschneider proves that some bodies of work can survive well after their creator’s passing. (James Shaeffer)
Paris Photo Los Angeles
April 26 2013
For its seventeenth anniversary, the elegant Parisian art photography fair Paris Photo launches its first doppelganger edition in the city of angels, opening today and running through April 28th. A debut in an environment passionately allied to the moving image and American visual culture could not appear as a better choice. A highlight of this first Los Angeles occurrence might be, to begin with, its exceptional location—the mythical Paramount studios that have been in operation since 1926 and have witnessed the golden age of Hollywood. Paris Photo Los Angeles hosts over 70 international galleries from fourteen countries. Among them, Los Angeles-based dealers Cherry and Martin will present a double booth with works by Amanda Ross-Ho and the recently rediscovered Los Angeles figure Robert Heinecken; Michael Kohn Gallery will be focusing on a key figure in Californian conceptual photography and collage art, Wallace Berman. In a larger approach to west coast photographic practices, Gallery Paule Anglim exhibits a selection of works by San Francisco artists at the peak of the Bay Area Conceptual movement of the late 1960s, including Bruce Conner. Several European dealers, mostly French, have crossed the Atlantic for the fair, such as the Parisian gallery 1900-2000, dealing in twentieth-century works, or the Austrian gallery Konzett, showing rare vintage prints by Viennese Actionists Günter Brus and Otto Muehl. A public program of discussions, mainly involving American photographers (Catherine Opie, Doug Aitken or Sharon Lockhart), will be held in tandem with a screening series entitled “Sound and Vision,” which will include Chris Marker’s La Jetée (1962) and Philippe Parreno’s Anywhere Out of the World (2000). (Martha Kirszenbaum)
Yang Fudong’s exhibition
at Kunsthalle Zurich
April 19 2013
Yang Fudong (born in 1971, Beijing) is one of the most important figures of China’s independent cinema movement. His films and photographic works examine tensions between urban and rural, history and the present, worldliness and intellectualism. Long, suspended sequences mark Fudong’s atemporal and dreamlike films. They divide narratives, as well as multiple relationships and story lines, thus addressing the ideals and anxieties of young people who struggle to find their place in the fast-paced changes of present-day China. “Estranged Paradise. Works 1993-2013,” curated by Beatrix Ruf and Philippe Pirotte at Kunsthalle Zurich, is Yang Fudong’s first major institutional survey exhibition in Europe. Yang came to the attention of the Western art world in 2002, when he premiered his film An Estranged Paradise at Documenta XI. The contradictions and discontents raised by a progressive modernity, as characteristic themes of film noir, play a significant role in the artist’s work: an invocation of the past and anxiety about the future. The protagonists of Yang Fudong’s works are mostly his contemporaries, young people between the ages of twenty and forty. More recently, since Fudong doesn’t direct his actors anymore, they seem to inhabit plot-less noirs, with exaggerated contrasts, a dramatically shadowed lighting, an eroticist style and a psychologically expressive approach to visual composition. (Ingrid Melano)
Yang Fudong’s exhibition «Estranged Paradise. Works 1993–2013» at Kunsthalle Zurich will run through May 26.
Jochen Lempert’s show
at Norma Mangione Gallery, Turin
April 15 2013
A surprise awaits me each time I enter Norma Mangione Gallery in Turin. This small, concentrated venue has the mysterious ability to consistently stage exhibitions that play with our perception, expanding the real space of the gallery’s three white cube rooms and stimulating the viewer’s attitude of imagination. Currently on view, German artist Jochen Lempert’s exhibition challenges the popular observation-based model of anthropocentricism by portraying a flora and a fauna from unusual perspectives. In his black and white photographs, both the animated and inanimate subjects seem to silently call for the observer’s attention, perhaps in order to broach a mute conversation ruled by the responses of gazes, by images and their power of mental suggestion. Recalling in some ways an Animist conception, in which every perceivable element is imbued with a soul, Lempert largely focus on detailed description, revealing how important they are in his entire artistic discourse. In this way, he compells the viewer to deeply look at the image, in the attempt to make contact between the two parts—the observer and the observed, the public and the artwork—inasmuch, as the title of the exhibition suggests, Seeing is Believing. Curated by Chris Sharp, the exhibition will close in May 2013. (Chiara Nuzzi)