Vincenzo Simone

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Works from Wonder (Seven pools)

“Operativa Arte Contemporanea welcomes you to Wonder (Seven pools), the first personal project by Vincenzo Simone conceived for the gallery spaces. Seven inflatable pools hold seven dreamlike landscapes resuming the artist’s latest painting production. A plastic frame with fluorescent and synthetic colours against a painting with a nineteenth-century taste – full of connections with the past landscape tradition – creates a paradoxical and unexpected result. Pools like mirrors seem to reflect the  views that the artist paints in a evanescent and visionary way, creating an unusual dimension where the boundary line between present/reality and past/illusion is basically faint.”

Real Madrid

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Real Madrid 

(Bianca Benenti Oriol and Marco Pezzotta)

Work from Beefy @ Placentia Arte

“I was sweaty and tired and ugly when I arrived in the village. I’d lost the habit of such long walks. Nobody recognized me, maybe because it was a long time since I’d left, but I guess it was more to do with the fact that they were so absorbed with what they were doing, they didn’t pay attention at all. It was exactly the same routine as in my childhood, the same manners, gestures, the exact same ritual, only the people were a new generation and apart from a few old faces that seemed reminiscent of something, I didn’t know anyone.

Tables and chairs upside down, people walking and dancing barefoot, naked bodies shinning in the dark, with myriads of little drops of viscous liquid onto their skin, dripping along their shoulders, breast, legs. They were holding hands, touching each other, rubbing each other, talking to one another with such excitement, putting fingers into one another’s body holes. At the center of all this, placed in exactly the same area it was when I was a kid, was the same big transparent jar full of the product. They kept coming back to it, pouring their hands into it, massaging their bodies and the surrounding objects with it, offering it to the sky, the concrete ground, the metal chairs and tables, the table ware.

In my memories, people didn’t look so ferociously happy and exhilarated. It was incredible to see these expressions on people’s faces, distorted by joy. I sat and smoked a cigarette, contemplating the scene as nobody cared about my presence. And I felt the rush.

There was no way I could resist it, although I’d promised myself I would not perform the ritual this time. But in seconds my childhood and teenage years invaded my body’s memory, like a flash. I pictured myself, age twelve, covering myself with the transparent product as if it were liquid gold, shouting at the stars, crying in the night, dancing for hours and hours, until daylight and later.

I stood up, walked to the jar, took off my clothes and covered the sweat of my body with another type of shiny looking one. Chemical. Beautiful. Strong. I decided it would just be for tonight. Tomorrow I would return where I had come from. I would not do it again. Just this one time.”

Text from Lili Reynaud Dewar written for the exhibition

Magnhild Øen Nordahl

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Magnhild Øen Nordahl

Work from Occupational Knots

I understand you’re originally from Norway, and recently completed your Masters studies at Kungliga Konsthögskolan in Stockholm, Sweden. Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you were first introduced to making artwork?

As most kids do I enjoyed making things, whether it was drawings or paintings, building tree huts in the forest or dams in the creeks. Growing up in rural Norway I wasn’t exposed to much professional art production, and when I went to preparatory art school it was with the hopes to acquire some creative skills needed to become an architect. It was here that I discovered that making art was fun and challenging in new ways and so I continued to pursue it.

You work often combines conceptual inquiry, scientific theory and methods, and a hands-on material practice – specifically sculpture. What is the attraction to sculpture and how do you think this best embodies the intellectual ideas that are often at play in your work?

I simply think that working with sculpture is a lot of fun. There are so many new things to learn, and being physically active makes me think in a different way. The physical world – the space I am in, the tools I use, my crafting skills and the materials – become decisive parameters in the work. However, I never felt like a material and spatial exploration was enough in itself, I’ve always had other interests that merges with these concerns. For instance I was working with load bearing structures as a motif for a long time, and I was looking into the connection between technological development, the shape of the structures and the work of the builders/designers involved in the making of these. This conceptual enquiry came about through my own work with the sculptures which consisted of cutting wood in many different angles and learning to use a drop saw in a precise way. The meaning of my own practical work is something I have been interrogating; Does it even matter if I make things myself, or could I have arrived at the same point through digital plans and outsourcing? What role does the body play in learning and understanding things in the world? These questions relate to more general topics of phenomenology and epistemology that I have been concerned with from the beginning of my practice, whether I was working with architecture, science or other subjects as a point of departure.

For the upcoming exhibition x4 at Kunsthall Stavanger, I understand you will be showing a selection of works from your series Occupational Knots (2014). In one respect, the works seem very straight forward in that they are based on Clifford W. Ashley’s 1944 book “The Ashley Book of Knots” which describes and illustrates in detail different useful knots for various professions. However, the works also easily lend themselves to metaphorical interpretations, as knots are often representational of anxiety and difficulty, or used as tools for theoretical analysis in physics and science (as in Knot Theory). Can you describe how you came to work with this book and your thinking behind the project?

I started working with knots first for practical reasons, and then I discovered the world of knots through the wonderful Ashley Book of Knots. One of its chapters is as you say dedicated to different professional groups, and it became a reminder to me of how so many jobs had many more practical elements in them before. I’m interested in how we work and how this influences the work being done, how global economy delegates manual labor to the lower economic class and how the contemporary artist fits into this picture of material production.I was also intrigued by this book as a particular example of the encyclopaedic format. Clifford W. Ashley, who funnily enough made art to support his rope-interest, made all these different categories and qualifications of knots and systematized this knowledge in a very subjective way. I soon discovered that there was also another type of systematized knowledge about knots, Mathematical Knot Theory. This theory was created in the late 1800s as an attempt to classify all substances in the world according to a comprehensive tabulation of knots. It was soon discarded for the more well functioning periodic table, and only regained its practical relevance in the 1980s when knotting was discovered in DNA-molecules and synthetic molecules. What I find interesting about science is that it tells us things that contradict our experiences and we still believe it. When this knot tabulation was created there was no tool powerful enough to show us an image of the smallest substances in the world, the scientists were left to hypothesise. And that is actually the case also today, we don´t know what the particles in the standard model look like, and some scientists even want to discard this model all together. But even if we still can’t get an image of the smallest particles, science has long since advanced past our senses when it comes to this type of observation. We are taught to find truth and reality in abstract information and to consider our senses as inaccurate. The titles of the works in the exhibition are found in a textbook on Knot Theory, and some of them demonstrate this demand on us to accept concepts that are removed from our experience of the world. “We imagine the string as having no thickness” and “The knot is infinitely far away” are in a way ridiculous statements, but make sense in the logical framework of this textbook.

All explanations aside, there is a strong physical presence to the sculptures inOccupational Knots that cannot be ignored. Is it important to you that audiences understand the full implications behind these works?

The strong physical presence is an important part of the work. I think it is a result of my joy in working with objects, materials and tools and a desire to share this experience with the audience. This is a work that has taken shape gradually, therefor not all formal decisions are accounted for in a literal way, and there isn´t a list of things people need to know to “get it”. However I think it can be more rewarding for many if they have the option to know a bit more, so I aim to be generous with providing information. The way I have solved it in this case is to assemble a selection of the research in the fanzine Pb?Ni?He? that we plan to have available at the Kunsthall´s bookshop.

Is there anything that you can tell us about the specific iteration of this project at Kunsthall Stavanger? Will it differ from past presentations?

The architecture of the space will definitely have a large impact on the installation. I am curious myself to see how it will work out.

And finally, can you share any information about future projects and exhibitions that you are working towards?

At the moment I am preparing a work that I have made in collaboration with musician Omar Johnsen for the sculpture biennial Art belongs to those who see it at Vigelandsmuseet this fall. After that I will start on new works for an upcoming solo show at Hordaland Kunstsenter next summer.”

interview via Kunsthall Stavanger

Mariechen Danz

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Mariechen Danz

Work from her oeuvre

“Mariechen Danz’s art takes as its starting point communication and the transmission of knowledge, placing the body at the center of her practice. In sculptures, drawings, costume designs, and performances she calls into question the expressive capabilities and incapabilities of language, the legibility and hierarchy of signs, and the primacy of Western conceptions of reason – proposing instead a new system of discourse and knowledge transmission that foregrounds, rather than suppresses, the subjectivity inherent in all human understanding. Danz’s works are furthermore activated through her staging and vocal performances. The human body thereby functions as the primary place of investigation for her work – the body as a metaphor, as origin and remains.”

Marie Lund

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Marie Lund

Work from PIT

“Tell me what you see first.
The surface. You meet the outermost layer first through reflection and resonance.
Can you leave anything there?
No, the surface repels. Drops just roll off.
What then?
Then rows of blows. Bang. Bang. Bang.
The material turns around its surface.
From convex to concave.
So it doesn’t repel anymore?
No, now it holds.
The hammer is closest to the arm.
And the more you hammer the bigger your arm gets.
Roughing out.
Close-up. Without stepping back.
The hammer removes the surface and frees the object from its place in time.
What’s underneath the surface?
A new surface.
Layers of surfaces. Densely packed.
The hammer creates volume from the plane.
From spanning to swallowing.
To raise the vessel you start by sinking.
So it moves the worked towards the un-worked?
Yes, and the un-worked towards the worked.
How far will the material allow you to bend its integrity?
How far?
Will the hole always remind you of the digging?”

Gabriele Beveridge

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Gabriele Beveridge

Work from Mainland

“Mainland, the exhibition is illustrated by an image that presents the opposite: a desert island. The sun bleached advertisement stages a destination on the fringe of the world; once a place of luxury, it is now forgotten, abstracted and submerged in shades of blue.

Representations of the island have shifted over the centuries. If for the ancient Greeks, the insular world was a mystical land inhabited by the gods, it became with Thomas More the ideal marginal space for the development of utopian societies. Depicted as a floating piece of earth, suspended in the middle of the sea, the island is promoted today through advertising as a place of leisure and relaxation, detached from the mainland and society.
The artworks in the exhibition echo this duality, conflict and mysticism of Island and Mainland in form and feeling. Here we witness found and made objects: a structure made of chrome, usually used as storage units for shop displays, is pushed until it becomes uncannily wrong, while off kilter glass bubbles clutch to the edges of obsolete advertisements portraying young and distant women whose image is aged and discoloured.

Relentlessly pursuing the edges of a paradise and beauty ready to burst, Beveridge creates an installation that plays with the stereotypes of the island and in which advertised fantasies are merged and conflated. The insular world is presented through an almost clinical aesthetic, as the place for infinite introspection, both enclosed and open to the world.

You bring everything you know that’s real. From the unending isles of Dreamland to your compact home. Billionaire baby. When it bursts you are born…”

Aaron Curry

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Aaron Curry

Work from STARFUKER

“Spanning both of the gallery’s exhibition spaces, STARFUKER will feature the debut of two new major bodies of work. One room will contain two large-scale aluminum and steel sculptures, and the other a group of paintings on shaped canvases. The formal advances in the sculptures and paintings on view represent some of Curry’s most ambitious and risk-taking ideas to date, paralleling an evolution in his approach to the cultural themes always present both on the surface and within the DNA of his art.

STARFUKER, the exhibition’s title, is a red herring: Given the artist’s long-standing connection to Los Angeles and the fact that this show is taking place here, it would seem to point to the spastic and unsavory mixture of sex, celebrity, and power that are part of the city’s reputation and allure. But the stars that appear in this show are of the cosmic variety, and the images conjured by both the paintings and the sculptures point away from the earthly detritus of popular culture that informed earlier bodies of work and toward the spectacularly generative, even erotic chaos that fills the universe at large and appears with increasing acuity in photography of deep space. Curry’s version of the cosmos, however, is one that is informed not only by recent science; equally important are the speculative horizons that are regularly the backdrops of video games, animated movies, and science fiction both in its kitsch-ridden and more paranoid iterations.

The two new major metal sculptures, each painted matte black, strike an unlikely balance between the archaic monumentality of Richard Serra, the modernist biomorphism of Jean Arp and Joan Miró, and the cartoonish contours of the Tomorrowland attractions at Disney theme parks. One sculpture is composed primarily of a curved wall: 12-feet tall and more than 20-feet wide, this imposing element is also the support for a series of tubular, conical, and spherical forms that inhabit its edges and recesses. The other sculpture is organized around a central, rocket-like tower topped with a knotted, tubular element that appears to be precariously balanced with a chain made from looped segments of welded steel. Utilitarian elements like rivets, bolts, and welds (which Curry also uses to sign each sculpture) play an important role in the overall composition of both works.

Until this point, Curry has built the majority of his sculptures using flat forms that intersect along x, y, and z axes. While these new works are extensions of that basic vocabulary, they torque and twist it, suggesting that flatness is no longer only planar, and that even the most rudimentary geometries can be littered with black holes, aporias, and vanishing points. At the same time, they make clear the connection between Curry’s ability to manipulate large tectonic forms and the improvisational freedom and informality of his drawings and collages. Like the chaos-ridden universe itself, these objects are sketches writ large, infinitely reducible, infinitely magnified, tossed off with the exacting rigor of some trickster creation deity. And just as their compositional lightness is played against their physical weight, they channel both the fanciful nature of outer space as it appears in popular culture, and a charred, brooding, post-apocalyptic grandeur informed by the very real prospect of irreversible environmental decay.

This sense of cosmic-play-with-consequences carries through in the shaped canvases that are the sculptures’ counterpoints. They too are composed of both curved and flat planes that are often stacked on top of one another. Their overall shapes resemble helmets, shards of metal, and broadly attenuated fields that read like landscape paintings of other dimensions. The hand- and air-brushed imagery scattered across them, meanwhile, is rife with big bangs and small bangs, trompe l’oeil stellar bursts and graffiti-like tags, as if the cosmic dust and smoky light of nebulae shared an elemental affinity with both spray-paint and bodily fluids. Each is a reminder that in deep space, urban environments, and human bodies alike, creation is always simultaneous with destruction.

For all of their effusively visual pleasures, though, these works subtly reveal the foundational importance of sculpture as a thematic concern in modernist and contemporary painting, whether in Picasso’s bathers from the 1930s, Ellsworth Kelly’s irregularly shaped color fields, or Elizabeth Murray’s explosions of dimensional, vernacular forms. On purely painterly terms, meanwhile, Curry’s compositions exemplify the backlit luminosity emitted by more and more of our intimate household objects, and which constantly vies with the natural world for our attention. His new paintings operate on the principle that this light has found its way into our very conceptions of space and time, and has become a constant reference point by which we interact with the world and understand our place in it. And while he himself uses the computer as a compositional tool, Curry renders both his paintings and his sculptures in immediately tangible materials; in the paintings, in particular, his hand is evident everywhere. The art historical traditions to which these works are powerfully anchored still exert force as a center of gravity.”

Grey

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Grey

Martin Erik Andersen / Chris Bradley / Jesse Darling / Keith Farquhar / Anders Holen / Daniel Keller / Yves Scherer

Curated by Domenico de Chirico at Brand New Gallery

“Grey is a very common colour in nature. The human eye can recognize the same object as grey or as any other colour depending on how much light there is. The eye can distinguish 16 levels of grey. Grey is a complementary colour.

The grey colour in painting has been experimented and theorized for centuries. The Classic conception considers grey as an “off-white”. It can be obtained adding black to white. However, there are other methods to obtain grey: for example combining the three primary colours (blue, yellow, red). In this case grey is called “neutral grey”. Differently from black, this special colour allows to simulate more naturally the shadows. Another way to create grey consists in mixing the primary colours for printing: cyan, magenta yellow.

This colour defines a relationship between the sensible and the super sensible. As Hegel wrote in his essay Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences1: «the symbol expresses both more and less than its intended meaning.»

“Grey matter” contains most of the brain’s neuronal cell bodies and for this reason grey colour is referred to the intellectual sphere.

Moreover, it represents an attitude characterized by objectivity and balance because grey is a colour which includes white and black: good and evil.

David Batchelor wrote in Chromofobia2: «For this colour – intense, heightened, pure, unqualified – offered a glimpse of the `Other World’, a world beyond Nature and the Law, a world undimmed by language, concepts, meanings and uses.»

He noted that «Dorothy’s Kansas, as we know, is grey.»

Domenico de Chirico

1 G.W.F. Hegel, excerpt from Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences, 1830

2 David Batchelor, excerpt from Chromophobia, London: Reaktion, 2000”

Micah Hesse

Micah Hesse

Work from Lobbyless

“If the buildings adjoining parliament lacked lobbies, would lobbyists lobby less? Certain buildings harboring concentrations of power are fronted by porticos, loggias, and neoclassical facades that are often meant to symbolize communal inclusion and justice, but what if they were somehow flaccid and could be stretched and squashed? would it allow external influence on politics to wax and wane in synchronization?

Looking at the city from a distance, buildings in Manhattan’s skyline have the apparent scale of miniature tabletop models. Using a type of flat image projection, you might simply grab the models from the skyline, then pop them down onto the sidewalk. One such model skyscraper wags in a figure-eight pattern as if conspiring to distract from something (from what?)

Right outside the lobbies, pipikwnto, or “pigeon-hound”, walks lazily ahead, monotonously avoiding the pursuing steadicam as it sniffs for clues in the crevices between sidewalks and skyscrapers.

Around the empty plots between buildings, construction site fences feature selectively cut viewing holes revealing something and concealing something else.

On the sidewalk, wood planks are taped down over cracks between concrete slabs, covering up the trickling excess from an underground coffee leak.

Inside the lobby, the light pours indirectly from the coves hidden between walls and ceilings, but where does the light come from?

Outside the lobbies, the sun produces an inadvertent two-point lighting setup when direct sunlight meets the light reflected from mirrored glass facades.”

Brian Bress


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Brian Bress

Work from his oeuvre.

“An early video work by Brian Bress titled Rock Your Body (2006) finds the artist in a makeshift space suit dancing to Justin Timberlake’s eponymous song. In front of a carefully engineered homemade set composed of two French doors, two columns, and several sculptural objects, Bress dances while pulling objects out of his front-zippered suit. A large blue vase comes first, followed by several sticks, which he wields like batons during his jerky dance. By the end of the song, the sticks have been neatly put away inside the vase, which is sitting perfectly at the center of the tableau. After the music ends, Bress shimmies off the stage.

The appearance of this LA-based artist’s work has evolved considerably since then. His 2014 solo exhibition at his Los Angeles gallery, Cherry and Martin, included several two-dimensional objects that resembled slick, highly polished, abstract and figural paintings, but were in fact high-definition, flat-screen video animations that featured varying degrees of movement. In the Clayhands series (2014), colored circles embedded within the canvas compositions act as stages for video footage of hands at work molding clay pieces. With the videos playing on loops, these animated paintings turn into abstract theaters where sculptures are made over and over again.

Bress’ practice has evolved organically, through trial and error, to encompass the peculiar mix of drawing, painting, performance, and video that it is today. While his aesthetic sensibilities and technical execution have become much more sophisticated in recent years, his essential strategy remains the same: take a formal structure and burrow into it, exploring and animating it from within to create new ways of seeing and experiencing the scene…” – Carol Cheh for Art Ltd.