The Land Art Road Trip 2014 | Gerson Zevi

GersonZevi_LandArtRoadTrip_2014Photograph: Alexander Getty, 2013


Apply now for a this once-in-a-lifetime artist residency. Places are filling up fast.

The Land Art Road Trip is a traveling, mobile residency program that exposes young artists to the iconic Land Art and environments of the American Southwest. Our movement is deliberate and guided by the creative impulses of the group, emerging as a free-flowing experiential journey designed to feed our artistic imaginations. Along the way we will give artists time to reflect on the experience, develop inspired works of art, and produce social and digital content that promotes the artists, the gallery, and our partners. Our journey is an artistic expression shaped by the sensory experience of the Southwest, and painted across the vast canvas of the open road.

Here is an article I wrote for The Art Newspaper about the 2013 Gerson Zevi Land Art Road Trip:

A new, peripatetic, artist residency that launched in September took young artists on a month-long journey across the American Southwest to visit the idealistic art made there during the 1970s and 1980s. The aim of the Land Art Road Trip was to explore the kind of conversations and work that might result from a band of 14 emerging artists, aged between 22 and 34 years old, travelling with other young creatives, including art historians, filmmakers, novelists, journalists, musicians, a geologist and a trained chef.

The idea was to create a self-sufficient and collaborative community, living simply, replicating the quixotic ethos of the 1970s. Much like the artist Donald Judd, who left New York in 1979 to work in the wilderness of Marfa, Texas, many of the artists in the group temporarily abandoned their urban metropolis centres to work, often for the first time, in rural environments.

We visited Land Art sites including Michael Heizer’s first major work, Double Negative, 1969-1970, which consists of two trenches measuring a combined 1,500 feet in length which have been dug deep into the Mormon Mesa, near Overton, Nevada. In Utah, we visited Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, 1970, in the Great Salt Lake and Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels, 1976, four large concrete tubes placed in an x-formation in the desert. From there, to Walter De Maria’s The Lightning Field, 1977, an installation of 400 stainless steel poles planted in a grid in a remote high desert in New Mexico. The group stayed in several national parks, including the Grand Canyon, before ending in Texas, with its vast open spaces, unfathomable distances and barren landscape.

The trip did not feel like a pilgrimage, because it was about discovery and novelty. The sheer scale of the land and otherworldly light impacted the artists, who were impressed with the madness of creating art in the middle of nowhere, to let art stand in competition with nature. They began to experiment. Rosanna Bach, for example, usually photographs with black and white film but began to draw with orange, pinks and purples pastel crayons, evoking the extraordinary sunsets in the Southwest. The sculptor Yana Naidenov, who typically works with ephemeral materials such as paper and glue, started stone carving after finding two beautiful stones in the Valley of Fire, Nevada.

Others found direct links to their existing practice: the crystalised salt of Spiral Jetty and the Bonneville Salt Flats reverberated with Camilla Emson, who works with salt sculptures. Some began collaborations: Luke Hart and Tomas Downes both create architectural sculpture, and in Quemado started to build a wooden construction together in a forest, while the photographers Alexander Getty and Adam Brochstein showed others how to use software and make the best use of their cameras.

Perhaps grouping artists together in this mobile residency context is a new way to encourage the type of dialogue once offered by belonging to a school or movement, and which is so important for those artists who are still finding their way. Perhaps grouping artists together in this mobile residency context is a new way to encourage the type of dialogue offered by the field trips that Art Schools typically provide. The artists on the trip all agreed that being in the physical presence of art, as a group and outside the traditional institutional or gallery environment, was very important in enriching their education and forming of their language.

Spending 24 hours at the various sites with a group of artists I had never met before changed my perception of work that I thought I knew quite well. As a group, we had the same point of reference but all were coming from different communities. The exchange of information and the experiential aspect of living with the artworks was unique, made me think of how the works were made, and is something that at this stage in my career would not have been possible otherwise.



Adeline de Monseignat

Adeline de MonseignatAdeline de Monseignat, Mother in Child, Vintage fur, pillow filler, glass, transit blanket, steel and mirror, main sculpture 50 x 20 x 25 cm (artist’s length at birth), 3.32kgs (artist’s weight at birth), whole installation 160 x 130 x 83 cm. Courtesy the Artist.


346 Adeline de Monseignat, Xrays / Tantaleyes, 2012, Ink, water and chalk on watercolour hot-pressed paper, Float-mounted onto museum board in solid spray white box frame, 152 x 122 cm. Courtesy the Artist.


Themes around the body, fertility, sexuality and origin are recurrent in Adeline de Monseignat’s practice, often dealt in her sculptures and installations with organic, sensual and fragile materials such as fur, coffee, eggshells, and wood, in order to let these materials do what the body itself does: yield to the damages of time. With influences such as Meret Oppenheim, Louise Bourgeois, Eva Hesse and Gabriel Orozco, her work falls into a genre of sculpture known as ‘soft sculpture’.

«It often feels like the process of making art is not so dissimilar to the one of giving birth, confesses the artist. The process can be long and painful, even ‘sacrificial’, yet beyond satisfactory as the end result of creation means seeing something meaningful ‘come to life’.»

Her work often acquires a very personal touch as she opts for activities such as hand-sewing and hand-moulding which involve the sensual touch of her hands where fingerprints, marks and imperfections are bound to appear. Her work is thus a result of a controlled and thought-through approach combined with the one of embracing ‘chance’ elements that art-making often entails.Some areas of her practice reveal an interest in the ‘participatory’ trend born in Brazil in the 1960s as artists like Hélio Oiticica and Lygia Clark invited the viewers to interact with their work. De Monseignat also aims at teasing the viewer’s senses as her audience is often invited to touch the work in order to make them reflect on the themes of the body she addresses, while their own bodies and senses are in involved and engaged. For the artist, it is only when, and if, both the artwork and the viewer have been ‘touched’ that the work is completed.

- Adeline de Monseignat, 2012


Alain Baczynsky

Alain Baczynsky is a Belgian artist who has lived in Paris and Jerusalem for many years. He has been making photographic, series-based work since 1973. The series Regardez, il va peut-être se passer quelque chose began in 1979 and consisted of pictures made in a photo-booth immediately after each of his psychoanalysis sessions. This went on for the three years, three times a week. The photographs have commentary written on the back and are remarkably varied in composition, as well as the emotions and anecdotes conveyed. Indeed, Baczynsky’s work is exceptionally moving and visually accomplished. This is accompanied by aspects of biographical significance and storytelling. For example, for the series TENDRES NAUFRAGES he documented the sleeping passengers on overnight ferries from Paris to London (over 13 years). The resulting works range from sweet and naïve-looking, to humorous, to brutal and disconcertingly violent. However, the narrative remains veiled and therefore the artist leaves interpretation open to the viewer.

Baczynsky’s work is very different to anything I have seen before: it has innate strength as a thoughtful and independent voice in today’s fast-paced art world. His critical and selective process comes through clearly in the work, giving it a cerebral presence, whereby he expresses complex concepts in the work. These are always manifested in subtle and poetic ways, maintaining a dream-like aura.

By turns disturbing, beautiful and immediate; Baczynsky’s work captivates a basic human desire to comprehend and engage with other human beings. Yet the way he approaches the subject is startling and unexpected. Difficult ideas are expressed, yet never sentimentalized (or rendered gratuitous): deep pain, and the longing for peace and understanding. His curiosity about people, and how emotions and intentions might be physically manifested, is contagious when one is faced with his oeuvre.

Centre Pompidou

Alain Baczynsky


Fokidos: An Element of Whim | Athens

Exemplifying the whimsical nature of their Athenian Artists-run space, Fokidos 21 brings together works by British and Greek artists in an exhibition entitled 'An Element of Whim'.

Eleni Bagaki (b. 1979 in Crete, GR) lives and works in Athens
Richard J Butler (b. 1986, Leeds, GB) lives and works in London
Bobby Dowler (b. 1983 in London, GB) lives and works London and Athens
Tula Plumi (b. 1980 in Herakleion, GR) lives and works in Athens
Nana Sachini (b. 1975 in Thessaloniki, GR) lives and works in Athens
Samara Scott (b. 1984 in London, GB) lives and works in London
Sofia Stevi (b. 1982 in Athens, GR) lives and works in London and Athens


David Murphy: Certain Impacts | PEER

Opening 26th March at PEER, London

From architecture to anthropology, tool-making to trade routes, my practice takes up aspects of inherently human activity that begin with the hand.

David Murphy’s first solo show in London is a presentation of recent drawings and sculpture. These two elements of his practice are a parallel and complementary activity rather than a developmental progression of two-dimensional study to final realisation in three dimensions.

The graphic language of the drawings rehearses and re-rehearses Murphy’s distinctive mark making – pursuing particular motifs that have the appearance of troughs and ridges or tubes and toruses. Using earthy colours of reds, browns and ochre, the medium for these drawings is casein – a traditional form of milk-based fast-drying paint, which Murphy applies using an almost dry, wide, square-ended brush. He often saturates his paper with layers of colour washes before, during or after the brushed marks have been made and the results can have the appearance of woven fabric or organic form observed in microcosm. At other times they can appear to describe vessels, tracks or furrows in a landscape. He works to the edges of the paper so that the drawing takes full occupancy of the sheet, leaving no border between the work and the world.

Murphy’s two sculptural groups in the show inhabit the real space of the gallery floor. Gathering is the title of two works made of steel wire that has been threaded through specially fabricated rings into tangled coils and then painted in red enamel. The gestural twists and turns have a performative, graphic quality like a finely engineered model of a line drawn in space. Their precise execution, however, is the result of Murphy’s experimentation with and knowledge of the material and its meticulous manufacture by hand. The most recent works in the exhibition are three large freestanding sculptures made from individual sheets of thin aluminium, which have each been subjected to repeated hammer blows over many hours. Murphy is both in control of and directed by his medium and tools; with each strike the metal subtly stretches and warps and it is through this process of hand-working that the material is gradually redefined.

David Murphy (born 1983, Newcastle upon Tyne) studied at Newcastle College and Glasgow School of Art. Recent exhibitions include: Jerwood Drawing Prize (2010); Almost Island, TAP, Southend on Sea (2011); Anschlüssel, Fruehsorge Contemporary Drawings, Berlin (2011); Aggregate!, E:vent Gallery, London (2011), Young English Sculptors, Fundaziun Not Vital, Switzerland (2012); Zeichnung ohne Zeichnung, Christian Ehrentraut, Berlin (2013); and New Basics, Galleria Monica de Cardenas, Zuoz, Switzerland (2013). He was artist in residence at M4 Gastatelier, Amsterdam, Netherlands (2010), Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, Scotland (2010), and Atelier Concorde, Lisbon, Portugal (2012). He will be artist in residence at Yorkshire Sculpture Park (April-June 2014). He is represented by Galleria Monica de Cardenas in Milan and Zuoz and lives and works in London.



Steve Hurtado


Steve Hurtado, China, 2011, wood, plaster, filler, spraypaint, 32.5 x 32 x 55 cm. Private Collection.


Steve Hurtado, Russia, 2012, Wood and glue, 110 x 55 x 60 cm. Courtesy the Artist.

Steve Hurtado (b. 1979) is a British artist with Bolivian parents. Hurtado makes sculptures that are related to monolithic buildings and communal spaces, using wood and concrete blocks. He makes beautiful drawings that refer to details of these fantastical spaces, as well as overviews of vast projects. Hurtado’s work over the past three years consists of two series. First came the Bunker series: a number of small sculptures that draw from the architectural tradition of maquettes. They are named after (or for) different countries (such as Syria, China, Great Britain and Russia). These carved wooden ‘bunkers’ are painted with many layers of car body filler and paint to create an ambiguous surface that resembles matt plastic or powder-coated metal. The wooden structures sit on plaster ‘hills’, which rest on an unpainted wooden base. Hurtado’s interest in bunkers is rooted in a deep fascination, and concern, regarding the political state of the world, and the secrecy surrounding military operations and surveillance – even in the broader, everyday sense of the latter.

Following the Bunker series, Hurtado began exploring the idea of stadiums when ‘Olympic fever’ swept through London, on the street as well as in the national press, about the designs and chosen architects. The Olympics penetrated, and therefore democratized, an arena of discussion usually reserved for a small, academic elite. Hurtado’s Stadium series reveals a pivotal moment in his technique and intellectual relationship with materials, as he shifted from wood to concrete blocks, which are carved and attached to one another with construction rebars. Indeed, the considered use of multiple materials adds depth to the work, without being anything less than essential.

Both bunkers and stadiums are designed to hold large numbers of people (in relation to the building size). However, at first it would appear to be very different entities – the hidden versus the exposed, war versus entertainment. However, one can note that both contain something quite unquantifiable, and that is a high state of human emotion and anxiety. And thus in observing these works we are reminded of our human condition, and how feeling very alive – whether through fear, tension, suspense or joy or sadness – having, as Virginia Woolf wrote in To The Lighthouse, a ‘moment of being’ – surpasses specific emotions. It is no co-incidence that great art, too, should make us feel that way.

Hurtado’s language has great subtlety in terms of what socio-political sentiments might be at the root of his investigation, although the formal style of the work is far from unassuming. It is informed to some degree by the Brutalist tradition – an influence that may have come from an intimate knowledge of London’s architectural and cultural landmarks such as the Southbank Centre and the Hayward Gallery. In addition to this, the visual aesthetic of the work is Judd-esque in the uncompromising minimalist forms, and the play of rhythmic empty volumes. Furthermore, it seems a strange co-incidence that the West Texas town of Marfa that Judd converted into his sculpture playground after becoming disillusioned with New York was largely made up of an abandoned army base – for example, the series of stark and Spartan hangars which now house site-specific installations by Dan Flavin. It seems that the Minimalist mentality and military architecture have more affinity than at first meets the eye.

Hurtado re-interprets the meaning and appearance of bunkers and stadiums, both individually laden with a canon of accepted and expected architectural form, to create sculptures that transcend the label of mere maquette, in that they are far from serving as solely illustrations of a much larger concept for a building. The works are so because of the fine craftsmanship and exacting proportion, which imbue them with gravitas. The proportional relationships are thought out so as to complement the sculpture at hand, not the building. The concept of the life-size building is in fact merely a means to an end – that being a challenging (for artist and viewer), yet concisely executed body of work, and the emergence of a new sculptural environment.


Tillman Kaiser

TillmanKaiserTillman Kaiser, Untitled, 2011, Egg-tempera and silkscreen printing on canvas, 135 x 100 cm, Courtesy Galerie Emanuel Layr.


Tillman Kaiser, Dünger II, 2012, Egg-tempera, silver gelatin, on paper on canvas, 43 x 33 cm, Courtesy Galerie Emanuel Layr.


Tillman Kaiser, Lampion, 2013, Cardboard, dispersion, 56 x 46 x 46 cm, Courtesy Galerie Emanuel Layr.

Tillman Kaiser is a sculptor and a painter, merging both practices most notably in his wall-hung works where different shaped canvases are composed so as to create kaleidoscopic geometric forms. Kaiser overlays his canvases with paint and photographs to create strange and psychedelic patterns. The photographs are developed on matte paper and their subjects revolve around the abstraction and manipulation of light, which is created by placing different objects close the camera lens, for example pieces of paper or a glass ashtray. The painted areas are applied with textured egg tempera. The paintings create hypnotic optical illusions and flirt with the traditional rules of perspective, as well as being seductive enough in their surface texture to attract the viewer to carefully consider the formal aspects of the work.
 Kaiser makes large and small paintings, the smallest being powerfully dense and a complementary counterpart to the larger works, which are more open and rhythmic in composition.



Monika Sosnowska

Monika Sosnowska

Monika Sosnowska, The Ramp, 2012, Painted steel, 210 x 380 x 210 cm. © The Modern Institute/Toby Webster Ltd


Monika Sosnowska, Untitled, 2012, Steel and lacquer. Photograph © Lothar Schnepf, Cologne

Monika Sosnowoska manipulates and distorts architectural features that are drawn from institutional or industrial buildings, with astonishing and poetic results. The works pictured are replicas of parts of a factory building in Poland: gates and a ramp. Sosnowska bends and twists and folds the metal so the function of the object is lost, and we see the forms in an entirely new way.

Sosnowska endows her works with a strong rhythm, indeed one could say her work, at its best, is rather musical. The work avoids being reduced to the allegorical, or an illustration of Eastern European/ Soviet history, due to Sosnowska’s sharp interest in form and scale, and the unique way in which she subverts these within her transformative process. Sosnowska’s approach to sculpture shows a sensitivity to the notion of inside vs outside, and positive vs negative space – the fine balance of these elements contribute to the unexpected subtlety of the work.


Elisabeth Wieser: Trespass | Charim Events, Vienna

curtains (new)

Elisabeth Wieser (b.1986) is a German artist who makes site-specific sculptures, complemented by drawings and collages. Often alluding to claustrophobic shelters or vessels, and using a human scale, the works assimilate fantastical habitats. Wieser’s sculptures are elegant, mysterious and evocative of memory. In all parts of her work she explores dreamlike, and sometimes Brutalist, architecture. Furthermore, she is engaging with the way that humans understand the inter-relations between their body and its surroundings. The dark theatricality and oblique narrative typical of Wieser’s work is offset by a sensitive use of materials, which are gracefully combined. Wieser uses cheap materials (such as cardboard, paper, Styrofoam and plaster) to imitate something more hardwearing. This is born from the tradition of trompe l’oeil and set design, while an appreciation for such materials is clearly influenced by Arte Povera. The shadowy compositions and the consistent lack of a figurative presence in the work results in a ghostly uneasiness. Things are not what they seem: the works are forbidding and their structures do not reveal themselves. In the drawings and collages, one cannot, for example, determine whether the walls are mirrored or transparent; whether the exposed supports are inside  or outside the structure.


In recent months, Wieser has been developing structural concepts that revolve around: tunnels, entrance vs. exit, and moving from one space to another. The words ‘threshold’, and indeed the title of the exhibition – ‘trespass’ – have been key in her research. The notion of travelling from one space to another opens up many interpretations – the transition from being awake to asleep, the real to the imaginary, the present to the future.

Although over the last year Wieser has been making sculptures that became increasingly site-specific, this is the first time that she has made sculpture that is not free-standing, but instead depends (physically and conceptually) on its surroundings. Marking the end of her university career, the work she presents is not only a sculpture, but also an architectural intervention, recalling the work of Gordon Matta-Clark. For this sculptural installation, entitled Trespass, Wieser has built something of an architectural folly: a double archway, supported by columns and covered by tilted roof. Between the arches a new space manifests itself – a cave-like room. Within this ‘room’, Wieser is integrating artificial, diffused light in her work for the first time. This adds a subtle yet eerie atmosphere, and enhances the sensation of moving from one space to the other. A striking element of the sculpture is the forbidding ‘door’ that leans precariously against the first arch and seems to mimic woodwork patterns. We are thus invited in, and the space becomes a shelter. However, we are also aware that the door could be closed and trap the viewer.

Trespass refers directly to certain architectural details and dimensions pertaining to the layout of the exhibition space. On the one hand, this creates a rhythm that is harmonious with the space, for example, an additional sculptural column offers newfound symmetry to the room. On the other hand, Wieser’s intervention is disorientating, due to the manipulation of positive and negative space, and the angled walls and roof. The installation creates three separate spaces: before entering, under the construction, and after exiting. This echoes that fact that the gallery space itself is divided into three parts, by two columns. These columns ‘disappear’ at the mercy of the intervention. Thus the gallery seems physically unstable, demonstrating Wieser’s capacity to transform a relatively straightforward space into something complex and multi-layered.

This is Wieser’s first solo exhibition, after taking part in group shows in England, Austria, Switzerland and Germany.

The exhibition is curated by Nina Neuper and Alma Zevi