Simon Denny

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Simon Denny

Work from “New Management” at Portikus, Frankfurt.

“Simon Denny’s new body of work for Portikus ranks among the most ambitious the artist has developed to date. Over the period of one year, the artist researched and developed an intricate project that has grown to considerable dimensions – both physically and in terms of its critical content. For two months, the monumental gallery space is turned into an homage to technology, communication, and the relentless need for innovation. Simon Denny has produced an embracing and multi-faceted installation that functions as a documentary of the South Korean technology giant Samsung and its global success story. The exhibition’s title, “New Management”, refers to the legendary management philosophy that Lee Kun-hee, Chairman of the Samsung Group, infamously introduced in the early nineties. “The New Management” principle was first proclaimed in 1993 at a high-level executive meeting at the Kempinski Hotel Frankfurt Gravenbruch near Frankfurt am Main International Airport. Lee flew in his entire top management from around the world for a three-day conference, emphasizing the need to globalize and preparing his employees for a new philosophy of change he was going to introduce in order to turn Samsung into a global market leader in all its sectors. This seminal meeting became known within the company as the “Frankfurt Declaration”.

 While the market success of Samsung that Simon Denny retells is well-known, recontextualizing it in this way highlights its currency and raises questions about globalization, economic dominance, nationalistic aspiration, and expansion. “Change everything but your spouse and kids” and “Change begins with me”, slogans coined by Lee Kun-hee that can be found on Denny’s sculptural elements, have become directly associated with the idea of success in South Korean corporate culture.

 In the introduction to the publication, Simon Denny writes: “In Portikus one sees a fantastic conglomeration of material that tries to monumentalize [Samsung’s] powerful cultural message; arranging imagined and remade objects around excerpts from Lee Kun-hee’s texts and Samsung’s history. I’ve tried to stay close to the context it describes: the global material language of corporate pride and presentation.” In commissioning two different English translations of New Management, a publication in Korean about the philosophy and history of Chairman Lee’s legacy, Denny investigates existing hierarchies. On the one hand, the material carries with it extremely specific cultural and economic meaning and value, and on the other, it forms a part of global culture and public information. The same goes for Samsung’s comic version of New Management and the inclusion of Sam Grobart’s article on Samsung that originally ran in Bloomberg Businessweek. Denny levels the role of the artist with those of the professional from a tech company, a journalist, an independent contractor hired through, and finally the viewer of the work.” – Portikus

Sanya Kantarovsky and Ella Kruglyanskaya


Sanya Kantarovsky and Ella Kruglyanskaya

“Little Vera” at Kim?, Riga, Latvia.

“Vera Mukhina (1889-1953) gained acclaim in the sphere of Soviet monumental sculpture after winning the 1937 commission for the Soviet pavilion in the Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne. The resulting sculpture, a towering stainless steel couple entitled The Worker and Kolhoz Woman, quickly became one of the most iconic symbols of Soviet Russia, and an embodiment of the collective socialist ethos. Mukhina’s achievement, a singular one by any female visual artist in the 20th century, has since become a ubiquitous presence in Russian visual culture.

Artists Sanya Kantarovsky and Ella Kruglyanskaya were invited to devise an exhibition in relation to Vera Mukhina on the account of her 125th anniversary and her background as a native of Riga. As the conversation between the artists evolved, it came to include the voices of fellow artists and thinkers living in Riga, as well as Mukhina herself, whose collected writings became a point of departure.

This exhibition is comprised of three distinct artistic gestures: a group of posters that are installed both in the exhibition space and in public spaces throughout the city; a site-specific performance culminating in a set of sculptural clay objects; and a documentary video work.
Six hand-painted and hand-lettered posters installed in the first gallery illustrate a phrase mined from Mukhina’s 1960 book of collected writings. The consequent works take on form both as art objects and mass-produced printed matter. The premier mode of public visual communication of Mukhina’s lifetime is evoked here, both in the visual language of the posters and in the way in which they are positioned to communicate ideas to the public. The quotes in question, focused on celebrating the meaning of décor, ornament and the nude body among other topics, transcend and complicate the socio- political context in which they were originally conceived. The lasting relevance of these ideas, and their playful opposition to modernist rationalism, is brought into high relief.

A week before the opening of the exhibition, nine students from the sculpture department at the Latvian Art Academy were tasked with replicating Vera Mukhina’s 1951 life size female bronze head entitled The Partisan Woman. The austere and forceful portrait, aimed at representing the spirit of the Soviet resistance against the Nazi invasion, has been largely kept in storage of the Riga Bourse museum since its original gifting by the Soviet government. The process of copying a masterwork re-animates the academic methodology to which Mukhina subscribed, having received her education in Paris under the tutelage of Antoine Bourdelle. Each student was prompted to render only what they could see from their single vantage point within a circle around the sculpture. The sum of the final objects encompasses the original human form, conjuring the culture of collective looking and producing. Considered as discreet sculptures, the clay forms display the subjective and nuanced decision process of their makers.
The event served as the source for both the sculptural and the video-based elements of the exhibition. In the second exhibition room, the original worktables on which the objects were made serve as their display plinths. A video installed in adjoining room pairs footage of the sculpture students at work with ruminations by the art historian and cultural critic Janis Borgs on Mukhina’s history and his peculiar hobby of copying master works.

The title of the exhibition is borrowed from Little Vera (Ма́ленькая Ве́ра), a perestroika blockbuster directed by Vasily Pichul in 1989 about an uninhibited young woman named Vera. Also legible as Little Faith in Russian, it was among the first Soviet films to explore themes of unchecked sexuality and societal decay, signaling the impending collapse of the Soviet establishment. When measured against her young cinematic namesake, Mukhina’s agency is amplified: a woman among men and bourgeois among proletarians who has left arguably the largest singular artistic mark of the soviet legacy. The series of artistic gestures that comprise this exhibition reconsider Mukhina’s ideas in relation to collective and personal agency, conjuring the lost possibilities of a collapsed society – ideas, interests and methodologies that hold potential for renewed meaning today.” – Kim?


Julien Bouillon

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Julien Bouillon

Work from The Center of the Earth is Molten History

“Rod Barton, London presents The Center of the Earth is Molten History a project exhibition series featuring artists Mona Varichon, Julien Bouillon, Emily Gable, and Rob Chavasse, curated by Cory Scozzari. The series will take the form of four consecutive solo shows and then culminate with a closing group show.  This exhibition marks the final show at the Paget Street address of Rod Barton, London. Just as the gallery itself is moving, becoming unearthed from its previous location and reintegrated into its newSouth East London location, the artists presented make work that addresses similar shifts, movements of material, passages in time and space, displacements and deposits.  In many cases the work borrows an archeological framework for investigation. Addressing perception, economics, consumption and preservation, the pieces of various materials take the form of excavations, are the products of a type of dig, or are projections of possible futures rendered through a re-negotiation of the past.

The work shown by Bouillon is part of an ongoing investigation of symbols and the historicization of artefacts. With an interest in the objects that hold history, fossils, coins, ceramic vases, Bouillon produces work that playfully interacts and replicates. With his recent coin paintings, made up of painted coins as dots on a canvas plane, individual ancient coins are rendered almost as portraits. Money here serves as the ultimate representational tool within a culture, and is revisited and isolated as a formal object both as a coin and as painting. Similarly, as if projecting the existence of our defunct, disposable consumer objects into the future; Bouillon makes fossilized bone-carved watches, painted televisions and cell phones that seem as if they have just been unearthed after thousands of years, fabricated as a trompe-l’oeil rock remains. The work looks to the precariousness of our material culture and the environmental implications in relation to deep time.”

Amie Siegel


Amie Siegel

Stills from “Provenance“.

“The first image in Amie Siegel’s alluring but problematic 40-minute video Provenance (2013) is of Stanley Gardens, a short road in West London. It’s an establishing shot for an interior: a minimally decorated townhouse with furniture by, among others, Le Corbusier and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret. In succession we visit other residences with Corb furniture, among them a Parisian flat with a chair reupholstered in beige suede, a severely decorated Belgian home where you can see a giant Taschen book on Le Corbusier on a coffee table, a loft in Manhattan, two houses in the Hamptons (one Modernist, one shingle style), and a super-yacht large enough to have its own elevator whose glass doors make a whoosh sound like something out of Star Trek. Siegel never identifies these locations and presents all their interiors with a forensic detachment: there’s no dialogue, and individual pieces of furniture are showcased via long, slow tracking shots.

All the Corbusier/Jeanneret pieces in these homes come from Chandigarh, the purpose-built Haryana and Punjab capital whose Modernist buildings, many of which have fallen into disrepair, are being picked clean by decorative arts dealers. At Chicago’s Wright auction house, where the Arne Jacobson chairs in the sale room are almost entirely empty, Siegel films a pair of club chairs from the Chandigarh high court selling for US$16,000 to a phone bidder; Artcurial in Paris sells a manhole cover. By now it’s become clear that the film is moving back in time and – after visits to a storage facility, a furniture restorer and the hold of a cargo ship (Siegel blows the budget on a helicopter shot of the vessel) – we finally arrive in India. At the Legislative Assembly, whose concrete expanses are discoloured and chipped, adorable monkeys are clambering up the walls. A Jeanneret desk that would fetch hundreds of thousands on the block sits next to a hideous fake leather office chair and a portrait of Parkash Singh Badal, the long-serving Punjabi chief minister. A teak and wicker armchair exactly like those on the yacht is seen again in an office divided into cubicles; couches like the ones at auction are piled by the dozen outside the High Court.

Provenance is certainly an appealing travelogue. The interiors of Chandigarh have rarely been filmed this elegantly – the HD video makes the legislature’s parti-coloured carpets gleam – and students of the market will have fun seeing how the other one percent lives with its Chandigarh furniture: one owner seems to have upholstered his chairs to match his Robert Mangold. Yet it’s hardly news that Modernist decorative arts, often seen by their creators as part of an emancipatory or even revolutionary project, are now valued even more highly than antiques by an international collecting class. Nor should anyone be surprised (least of all in India) that white people like to go to poor countries, take their stuff and sell it for a massive profit. Siegel surely undertook this laborious project to examine the failed dreams of International Style architects and the recession of their work into the luxury trade, but if there’s any criticism of that phenomenon it’s entirely implicit. Chandigarh and the Hamptons are filmed in the same aloof, sumptuous style – chirping birds are heard in the first case, lapping waves in the second – and the artist’s thorough refusal to identify locations, dealers or collectors keeps us at a distance from the true provenance of these objects.

In a baffling postscript to her Chandigarh project, Siegel sold an edition of Provenance at Christie’s in London last month, and filmed the sale. Her New York exhibition concluded beforehand, but it included a framed page from the auction catalogue (‘A hauntingly beautiful video of tremendous scope,’ the catalogue entry began). I suppose that with this biting-one’s-own-tail gesture Siegel is trying to remind us of what we should all already know: that no art can stand outside the market, which eventually gets its hands on everything. Yet if that’s true then there’s no reason not to work in a much more critical, analytical mode, parameterizing the mechanisms by which public works for the poor become private luxuries for the rich instead of standing at such a polite remove. Siegel’s admittedly lovely film is not without interest if you want to see the end product of this complex cultural and economic process. But I could say the same about Architectural Digest.” – Jason Farago, Frieze Magazine

Travess Smalley


Travess Smalley

Work from Vector Weaves.

“Vector Weave is a series of large-scale vinyl prints showing thick textures and patterns, interwoven layers, meshes of structures that are difficult to parse. The title refers on the one hand to the vector graphics that are the basis of the works, and on the other hand to the process that runs through what initially look like simple horizontal lines. Smalley prints the digital patterns on different papers, including transparencies, lays them on top of one another and then scans them again. He calls the transfer from digital to analog and back into digital “Feedback Loops.” He says of his working method: “When I made it digital, it opened up a whole other plane of options: opening the image in Photoshop, selectively changing colors, cutting out areas, rearranging areas. Very quickly I began to notice the similarities of the digital and physical side of my art making practice.” Photoshop serves as a means of further manipulating the images. At the same time he saves all his working steps. For a year now he has been recording every new sequence. He takes his personal archive of image production and applies this growing resources over and again to other drawings. Despite the possibility of identical reproducibility, each image remains a unique piece. The last step is to enlarge the image to UV prints on vinyl – a technique used for printing large-scale billboards – and to span the material over aluminum frames. These frames give the images body and show how the material is stretched. The print extends beyond the rims, and the motif is reflected there, on the narrow side. The decision to print not only the front surface opens up new levels of meaning, for instance a relation to textile design, or a reference to the three-dimensional structure behind the print and a dialog with the history of painting.

Travess Smalley’s working method is both virtual and physical. He works in various media spaces, breaking out of preconceived boxes like “painting,” “photography,” and “prints” as well as the categories “digital” and “analog.” What amounts to painting or printing and what techniques and forms of appearance these terms might encompass has been debated and extended for over 15 years now in the context of digital technologies, constantly developing software and its usage in the visual arts. Travess Smalley, who was born in 1986, is right at the center of this discussion of contemporary redefinitions of artistic media. “Digitally, I work in the fields of photography, video, computer graphics, digital printing and animation, while physically I work in the fields of sculpture and painting using various tools and techniques. My digital studio practice is the Yin, the physical studio practice the Yang. Basically, the tools are everywhere and I am the conduit. I find that my work is freshest when I am moving between fields and mediums on a regular basis. My objects inform my Photoshop files and vice versa.”” – GGalerie Andreas Huber

Katrín Sigurdardóttir


Katrín Sigurdardóttir

Work from Foundation at SculptureCenter.

“Foundation is conceived as a trilogy of installations. In the first, at Palazzo Zenobio’s Lavanderia in Venice, the work intersected the walls of an ancient laundry. In Reykjavík, the work was located at the Reykjavík Art Museum’s Harbour House, an old customs house in downtown Reykjavík. Now in New York, it will occupy the vast gallery of SculptureCenter, a former trolley repair facility. Foundation juxtaposes elaborate and ornamental decoration with the functional structures of these repurposed industrial buildings. In each of its prior iterations, Foundation intersected with the building structure cutting across interior and exterior walls and columns. The imprint of the architecture of the previous venues is visible, drawing a new pattern. Thus, the real story—of inhabiting three different buildings in three different countries—intentionally contrasts the fairytale of the baroque inspired floor.

The surface of the pavilion’s floor, symbolizing opulence and leisure, contrasted by the building’s structure, referencing labor, brings up questions of value and structures of power. The floor replicates artisanal tile construction and is handmade by the artist and her team as a way of questioning the limits between art and craft, as much as the concept of authorship in relation to production. This imaginary locus with its disjointed leveling, suggests an overlay in time and space, bringing to mind the mining of an archeological site, as much as the prospective structuring of architecture.

In its entirety this piece is an investigation around the concept of drawing. Foundation, metaphorically evokes the drawn line as the origin of thought, of artistic production as well as architecture and craft. Navigating this abstract space—where the contamination between different disciplines and forms of knowledge parallels the intersection of the floor plans—creates a unique emotional experience.

Katrín Sigurdardóttir was born in Reykjavík in 1967. Over two decades, she has explored the way physical structures and boundaries define our perception of reality. Through unexpected shifts in scale, united with a personal use of architecture, cartography and landscape, her evocative installations oblige us to look at the world surrounding us in a new way.

On Foundation, Sigurdardóttir remarks: “A floor is in itself a place. A floor that relocates defies conventional logic. What type of floor moves? A surface that is preserved as an artifice, a relic extracted out of its original time and space. On the one hand, this work is a meditation on the uprootedness of art and the complexities evoked by removal, partition, transition and representation of art and artifacts. On the other hand I was thinking about the practice and vocation of the artist in society, past and present”” – SculptureCenter

via Contemporary Art Daily.

Go With the Flow


Go With the Flow @ The Hole.

“The Hole is proud to present our summer exhibition in the main galleries, Go With The Flow, looking at the diverse and contemporary uses of sprayed paint. From aerosol to airbrush and further into the field of atomized paint, these artworks range from the slickly gradiented to the more surreptitiously sprayed, with a lot of flying paint in between.

Atomizing paint is an approach often associated with the automotive world, industrial painting and products, even down to the boardwalk airbrush tee. The history of contemporary artists using spray is more limited; Surrealists explored the nascent technology, Kandinsky, too; and really not too much else went on in sprayed painting besides a 60s L.A. airbrush movement or Jules Olitski until the slick fabrication art of the 90s upsurge in industrial painting techniques. After digital technology made the world of images screenic and pixelated, gradients reappeared in painting as a mainly digital aesthetic with compressors the easiest way to achieve them in painting.

Simultaneous to all this, of course, the 70s and 80s birthed graffiti culture, the single most impactful global image movement, and the world’s cities have been covered in spray ever since. Besides the often-embarrassing graffiti art in galleries, this aesthetic mostly influenced painting from afar, with artists like Sterling Ruby borrowing the tools and vibe, or Barry McGee conceptually tackling the culture head-on with his animatronic tagger sculptures and huge fill-ins on museum facades.

But the commercial and the graffiti are not the only two angles from which to approach sprayed paint and this exhibition looks at the diversity of uses it has for contemporary artists now. Since Tauba Auerbach turned her Deitch Projects Williamsburg studio into a spray booth back in 2009, the number of emerging artists I have visited whose studio was prophylactically plastic-ed over for atomized paint is staggering. ” – The Hole

Zuzanna Czebatul

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Zuzanna Czebatul 

Work from Viridecent Nervure

“For her debut solo exhibition at Gillmeier Rech, Zuzanna Czebatul creates complex dramaturgies,
emphasizing epistemological potential and cognitve tangibility. Viridescent Nervure (a term borrowed from
botanical vocabulary, translated to ‚greenish leaf vein‘) is framing a delicate conflict.

Paths, caves, wild trees, bushes, an arrangement of flowers, the well smelling, poisonous, secretive,
representational… subtle analogies between a garden’s state of mind and bodily expression. Nature, and its
virtuoso sprawling self-realization are understood as a grid resembling psychological involvement and
indefinite formal attitude. The gallery space is choreographed by a narration encircling two sculptural groups.

The entrance room is dedicated to a series of sculptures, each depicting a different temper. Through the direct
adaption of movement and physicality and as a response to the viewers’ angle, each step inside the gallery
space allows an erratic perception and emphasizes the lively aspect of the sculptures. Spatial, presentational and
existential matters drive the conflicting forms. Following a startling, yet coherent constellation at the entry, the
second room leads to a space of continuity and ambiguity. What appears as a dual sketch on the wall is a lofty
way of delineating a corporal touch, a gesture of aidance; a flimsy outline. Formed by iron grid material, which
normally functions as a support for climbing plants, the piece elaborates on collocation of nature, mechanisms
of control, the pleasure of covering empty walls with flowers, and the gentle touch between two people.” -Gillmeie Rrech

Leo Gabin

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Leo Gabin

Work from their oeuvre.

We deliberately chose not to use images directly derived from the film, because we didn’t want them to be like the ‘Crackup’ paintings. But all images used in the paintings are taken from amateurish shot footage in Florida, mostly encountered during our search for imagery for the film. Like always, images find their way onto the canvas because they relate to what we are interested in and currently seeing at the moment online. So there is definitely a clear relation between the two, but the film stands on it’s own. That’s also why we chose to not title the exhibition like the film, but to have an overarching title for both. Our interest has always been in how young people use new media to express themselves and capture their surroundings, which is also present in the film. By using transcripts out of the book there is this fictional aspect to the whole, which is new for our approach to video. We like the fact that the film leaves an uncomfortable feeling, but the use of shocking footage is limited, however there is an abundance available online. It was more interesting to balance on the border of harmless naive and disturbing imagery and using sound to help capture the general mood the book evokes, in our interpretation that is.” – Leo Gabin

Federico Kenis

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Federico Kenis

Work from his oeuvre

“Federico Kenis was born in 1990 in Córdoba, Argentina, where he currently resides. He learned the basics of photography from his father, through a film camera that used to be his. He starts developing his skills as a self-taught photographer, learning through practice itself, several books, and the Internet. In 2009, inspired by graffiti and street art he begins to draw and design under the pseudonym of Ruidológico. In 2010 he takes up his studies in Cinema at university and starts becoming aware of the moving image as a means of expression, both for narrative and non-narrative possibilities.
As an active musician he plays several instruments in two bands: Anticasper and Youngs Against Godard as well as his solo project. Also he takes part as musician, photographer and video maker in the quarters of Ringo Records, an independent label of his city.
In 2012 he devotes himself fully to photography -both film and digital photography-, making it an important part of his every-day life and encompassing various searches. As well, he employs photography as a filter through which he contemplates the real world and intern processes from a holistic gaze.
Nowadays, he experiments by composing with materials and people, in different mediums and interfaces, in a relationship of tension, looking for ambiguous and resonant places in the relation organic/synthetic, abstract/figurative, content/form, chance/cause, virtual/real spaces. Intrigued by the universal concept of noise (both in sound as in the visual), consciousness and changes in state of matter. Obsessed with organic patterns, iridescence and everything that beyond its solid state shows for his eye that reality is transformed by time like a river of liquid information.
More recently he’s exploring gif art, glitch art, video art and concepts like information flows, new and obsolete technologies (and their naturally or sponteaneously generated aesthetics) and social networks.” -Der Greif