Not Vital: Everton

Everton is Not Vital’s most recent series of drawings and was executed in February of 2014 in Rio de Janeiro. Vital has been travelling to Rio every year since 2011, yet in order to understand how he came to be there we must go back further. Vital was born in 1948 in Sent, a small village in the Engadin valley of Eastern Switzerland. At the age of 18 he moved to Paris, two years later to Rome, and in 1976 to New York. Since then he has been travelling incessantly to all corners of the world – living and working periodically in Agadez (Niger), Lucca, Beijing, Patagonia (Chile), and most recently in Rio and Flores (Indonesia). This nomadic life took him to Rio five years ago, not to find a house but simply en route to build a house in Patagonia. The latter constitutes his latest, and largest, architectural endeavor – the island NotOna, a work that took six years for dozens of construction workers to complete. Although Vital’s intention was to build a house on the solid marble island, he soon became convinced that it was too beautiful for that, so he decided to excavate a 50-metre tunnel and then polish its floor to create the ‘house’ – one continuous piece within the marble. Thus he created a hidden, monolithic sculpture, which frames the spectacular sunsets. As Vital was spending time in South America, Rio seemed a natural stopover. On one such stop he saw a house that was for sale in the Santa Teresa district, and spontaneously decided to buy it.

I asked Vital for three years whenever he returned from Brazil if he had made any work there, and found it strange that the answer was always ‘no’. This struck me as unusual because in each place where he had spent repeated or extended periods of time Vital began to engage with local craft or materials very quickly, if he had not (such as in the case of Italy) already gone specifically for the materials and workmanship. Examples of such site-specificity in Vital’s making process are: the glass-blowers in Murano, papermakers in Bhutan, silversmiths in Niger, marble carvers in Pietrasanta, steel welders in Beijing, and bronze casters in Milan. When earlier this year Vital called to tell me he had spent one of the best months of his life in Rio, making not one but sometimes a dozen drawings per day, every day, I was intrigued. These drawings are all full-frontal portraits of a new sitter, a young man named Everton. This is the first time that Vital has had such a regular sitter (apart from himself!), and the opportunity produced an unforeseen and incredibly energetic output. Applied with oil sticks and occasionally tape, these drawings adopt a largely monochromatic palette, presenting floating heads with no necks or clear features. The painterly gestures range from furtive to rough, hesitating to deliberate. There are copious fingerprints, which hint at his passion for print-making, and add another layer of mark-making and technique to the works. The identifying feature of each drawing is often the placement of the head on the page: this is sometimes in the centre and other times veering off to certain corners, creating a sense of imbalance, especially when viewed in series.  This perhaps illuminates what a ‘sculptor’s approach to drawing’ might be, in that the conscious placement of the head implies a concern with weight, gravity and volume, rather than surface or optical effects. These sculptural concerns bring to the fore the notion of space and the ‘void’, which I would argue is at the heart of these representations of Everton.  I am using the word void to describe the particular airless darkness expressed by the most heavily-worked of Everton’s heads, as well as to evoke our emotional associations of the concept of a void or deep emptiness.

The outlines, or lack thereof, of the heads are arguably the most prominent feature of the drawings. They are sometimes sharply delineated with tape, and other times scumbled into seeming ephemera. By focusing the viewer’s eye on the outlines, Vital is able to present each head as a unified mass, rather than a group of lines or volumes that make up a face, which further reinforces the works’ sculptural, tangible presence. The density of the heads and sparse descriptive details seem to subvert the traditions of representational portraiture, yet upon closer inspection they evoke the darkness associated with Spanish Old Master painting. The drawings, particularly in their deep tones and indistinct appearance, have a strong affinity with the portrait paintings that Vital has been making since 2009 (first in Beijing, and now also in Sent). Indeed, it is important to contextualise Everton within the series’ precedents. In this light, I will discuss Vital’s aforementioned paintings, and the towering, steel HEADs that he has been producing in Beijing since 2013. The Everton series is in many ways a synthesis of the portrait paintings and HEADs; and a culmination of Vital’s obsession with looking at faces.

When Vital started painting portraits (oil on canvas) in his Beijing studio his sitters were friends, family, assistants, teachers, poets and fellow artists. His work until 2008 was primarily focused on encounters with the natural world and animals – clearly portraits depart from this. Perhaps this change can be explained by the impact of Beijing, a place where there are few glimpses of rural life or wild animals. The paintings are composed of short staccato brushstrokes contrasted with looser, longer strokes. This approach to mark-making is also present in certain passages of the Everton drawings. While figurative in essence, the oil portraits embrace abstraction in their gestural use of line and through the artist’s evident love of form for the sake of form, and these qualities permeate Everton too.

In 2013 Vital made a trip to Laos where he saw an oversize Buddha head that was placed directly on the floor, exuding concentrated spirituality and remarkable beauty. This inspired him to begin the series of HEADs, using his singular sculptural language to challenge what the concept of portraiture can encompass. HEADs are portraits and self-portraits as tall or taller than a human, and simplified to the utmost. Thus far Vital has produced a number of these elegant and evasive HEADs. They are sprayed with a patina whereby reflections are muted and distorted. The polished, reflective surfaces render the form and content fluid, and reliant on the audience. There is a combination of not only reflection but also inflection; the ensuing push-pull visual effect can be likened to Noguchi’s iconic chrome-plated bronze bust of Buckminster Fuller (of whom Vital is a great admirer). Interestingly, the reflective quality of the sculptures, and the glass that Vital insists on having over his paintings, are closely connected in that they both force the viewer to catch a glimpse of themselves literally ‘in someone else’. Vital blurs the lines between the self and others, and indeed between interiority and exteriority. This self-reflexive situation relates to the Everton drawings as they could also be discussed as self-portraits, if we follow the line of questioning: Do they describe a daily mood of the artist more than an objective depiction of the sitter? And is the artist consciously using the sitter’s face as a vehicle for this?

When what can by now call Vital’s ‘motif’ of the head is translated onto the Everton series, we see the size of the head reduced (a necessity when drawing on 17 x 14 inch paper). Needless to say, depicting a head smaller than life-size impacts the way that a viewer will tally themselves up to it and engage with it. In some ways, the head is becoming a measuring device for Vital – in a similar way to how he has used the cow’s tongue (since 1987) as his artistic yardstick. After casting the tongue in silver and bronze, he began to enlarge it to various heights and scales, while observing the increasing abstraction and the potential of pure form.

Vital has used adhesive tape – both transparent and opaque – in numerous drawings since the 1980s, perhaps most evocatively as a representation of melting snow in Light Snow (2004). The way he uses tape for Everton is distinctive as it is sometimes over the face, and other times around it (like a framing device). The tape creates partly reflective areas, while obscuring others, producing a hide-and-seek effect of layers and meanings, while the graphic effect of the opaque tape is unexpectedly playful when painted over or under. This adds depth and perspective to the work, while paradoxically bringing our attention to the two-dimensional surface of the work. Ultimately, the gestural use of tape endows the work a tactile and sculptural dimension.

Helping Vital unwrap one of the drawings after another until 100 or more had been viewed and spread across a large table made me feel dizzy, as the heads have the vacuum-like intensity of black holes, deeply concentrated within themselves, but each with beautifully subtle differences. There is something profoundly moving about this – the idea of series, of a mass looking the same but each element being different. This has political and social undertones, as can be seen in “Let One Hundred Flowers Bloom” (2006), where each of the 100 stainless steel lotuses are unique, while borrowing the title from a Mao propaganda slogan of the same name. Seriality, and the differences within, is also a defining feature of nature. One could say that a poetic re-interpretation of seriality (that questions Minimalism’s cold uniformity) informs the representations of Everton. For example, a differentiating element in the Everton series, aside from the previously discussed placement of head on paper, is the occasional use of purple, yellow and white oil-stick to draw a head. This use of bright colour is extremely unusual in Vital’s practice. One could argue that the reason for this insertion of colour is because of the influence of the colours of Brazil, and indeed he was there during the carnival. Vital himself has always maintained that probably if he had not been born somewhere like the Engadin his work would not be so monochromatic.

Since 1976 Vital has used the same size sketchbooks (17 x 14 inches). The drawings’ subject matter ranges from 5 days after my dog was conceived (1998) to Strong wind from the West (2004) to My noise in the room (2005). Despite the variety of themes, they always convey a documentary purpose, which is often clarified by their titles, written directly on the front of the paper. This text often has a formal importance in anchoring the composition, which can range from abstract to representational, but most often rests somewhere in-between. The prominence of text in his work also hints at Vital’s interest in writing both poetry and prose. This passion has been with Vital for decades, possibly first manifesting itself when he translated Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Le Petit Prince (1943) from French into Romansch at the age of 16.

The fact that the paper on which Everton is depicted comes out of a sketchbook, which artists traditionally use as a form of documentation, shows Vital, an artist who is radical in so many ways, continuing a long-established tradition. We must ask what is he documenting in the drawings of Everton? I would argue that Vital is documenting the notion of familiarity vs. unfamiliarity. That is to say, so that we have the feeling of looking at someone and being on the brink between recognizing them and not.

The full-frontal pose and bold handling of materials in the Everton series emphasize the physical confrontation coming from the proximity between artist and sitter. This intimacy is heightened by the lack of background description, serving to focus the viewer’s eye solely on the figure. Yet despite this, the Everton drawings give little away. We cannot discern any emotion from Everton, or even what he ‘really’ looks like. The drawings, although bursting with contained energy, embody a peculiar formlessness, a notion that is deeply imbued in Vital’s oeuvre. While there are sections of the drawings that are sharp and focused, there are larger areas where a curtain seems to be drawn across them. In addition to this, these drawings are so dark that most of the time one can only make out a dim suggestion of a drooping eyelid, the outline of two small ears, or the square of a jawline. It seems to me that Vital thus presents a visualization of an uncomfortable reality: that one can never truly know or understand another. As a response to this reality, Vital is making portraits of heads, as emotionally inaccessible objects, and not as individual people anymore.

- Alma Zevi, 2014

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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.


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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

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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

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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

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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.


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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.

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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.


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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.

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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

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