Seven Can’t-Miss Zurich Gallery Shows During Art Basel
Zurich’s gallery weekend proves a worthy amuse-bouche to summer’s biggest art event.
The Haas Brothers, “Feinstein” at Galerie Gmurzynska. June 15 – July 2014.
In their little-more-than-a-year on the contemporary art scene the Haas Brothers (Simon and Nikolai Haas) have made major waves. “Things have been going amazingly well,” Simon tells artnet News. Their first show with the gallery, which Simon calls their “most ambitious and refined yet,” represents a return to roots for the brothers. Most of the works on view take stone as their primary medium, a reference to their childhood days assisting their father, a German stone carver who grew up not far from Zurich before immigrating to the US. The swap to this new medium hasn’t been without its challenges for the brothers whose previous work mostly dabbled in ceramics, metals, and animal pelts. “It’s difficult,” says Nikolai. “Stone is heavy and unmoving, [but] hopefully the viewer feels as if they are among ancient beasts that have been frozen in the middle of having sex or just strolling around.” Indeed, sex weighs heavy in the show whose centerpiece, Double Penetration (2014) depicts the act in stone, cast bronze, and hand blown glass. “It diffuses any negative connotation with DP,” says Nikolai, and “brings an act that is generally shamed by society onto a stage that is intellectual and analytical.” For those who are wont to place their work into the design field, Simon explains that functionalism, for them, is an empathic device: “We want the people who own our works to develop relationships with the pieces, like a pet. The line between art and design is in the eye of the beholder.”
Mark Bradford, “My Head Became a Rock” at Hauser and Wirth. June 14 – July 26.
A 19th century Parisian impressionist might initially seem like an odd point of reference for Bradford, whose abstract work typically riffs on urban strife in Los Angeles. But, then again, Gustave Caillebotte was no typical impressionist. The French painter was often criticized for his overly-realist depictions of Parisian life—both its flaneurs and its laborers; he reveled perhaps too much in the details for his environment for his contemporaries’ taste. Bradford, though near-universally admired for his gritty yet delicate collages and mixed media works, is similarly obsessive in tracking traces. Rather than some directly Caillebotte-esque photographic imaginary, Bradford documents his world through scraps of materials collected around the Leimert Park neighbor hood in LA where his studio is located. This first show with the gallery sees a new large scale series of works which turn towards the floorboards for their point of reference, appearing alternately like rotting parquet or scored linoleum, primed for removal. They’re slightly more reduced than previous works—both in color palette and in form—and, simply put, very good.
Thomas Ruff, “New Work” at Mai 36 Galerie. June 14 – August 2.
This may be Ruff’s 13th show with the gallery, but the works on view are as fresh as ever. Most notable, is a new series, titled neg♢lal from his Negatives work group. The works sees archival images of plane components being tested in wind tunnels digitally manipulated such that all turn a rather odd shade of blue. Also present in the show are new photograms. The series, which has proved popular across fairs and gallery shows throughout the year, digitizes the analog process of placing objects on light-sensitive material to create a remarkably painterly result.
Carroll Dunham at Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Löwenbräu. June 14 – July 19.
A quick look at Dunham’s work in this debut show with Presenhuber gives a pretty clear view on the break-out point for his daughter’s (Girls creator Lena Dunham) style. His women are brazen, bold, curvy, and naked. His men are awkward, feigning power, but revealing far more whimsy than might. His settings are oddly idyllic, Dr. Suess-like landscapes of the world that make you want to jump in like the sole fleshy being in his flattened world. Dunham creates ideal-types, represents modern myths, and a sort of unnatural natural order of things in the very flat form reminiscent of that through most of us were first introduced to them: cartoon.
Victoria Miro at Schloss Sihlberg. June 14–22.
Miro might not have a Zurich space (yet), but that hasn’t stopped the gallery from opening a special pop-up for Art Basel. The gallery has taken over Zurich’s gothic mansion, Schloss Sihlberg, for a show of three gallery artists: Idris Khan, Yayoi Kusama, and Conrad Shawcross. Skeptics may chide the move as an extension of their Art Basel booth—Kusama plays a major role there, too—but that doesn’t mean the work is any less impressive. Khan, who’s also currently putting on a ballet at the Opernhaus Zurich with Max Richter and Wayne McGregor, created a new series of white monochrome text paintings. Kusama shows a new series of Infinity Net paintings alongside her large-scale sculpture Prison Door (1994). Shawcross’ Perimeter Studies riff on molecular and scientific models in their abstract, aluminum forms.
Katharina Grosse “Die Ball” at Galerie Mark Müller. June 14 – July 26.
Gross remains better known for her monumental, vibrantly colored installations, which see her spray nozzle his abstract fiberglass constructions, Knoll couches, plums of fabric, train cars, and soil. But her paintings are by no means less worthy of attention. Die Ball presents 16 of the artist’s latest works on paper, which concentrate her installations into relatively minute form. Remnants of the stencils she uses to execute her many layers of acrylic paint remain on some of the works, as if a topographical map towards their three-dimensional cousins. For those without an extra warehouse to spare, they’re the next best thing.
Sofia Hultén “I Used To, I Still Do, But I Used To, Too” at RaebervonStenglin. June 13 – July 26.
Several sections of siding from a transport van fold to form a rugged cog, sitting on the floor. A triangle from belt loops to the bottom of the fly on pair of jeans’ is cut out and affixed to the wall. On a video screen, a disembodied hand grabs a takeout tin of Indian curry and dumps it on the keyboard of an old MacbookPro. Such are the contents of Hultén’s second solo show with the gallery. A worthy exponent of the New Realist movement Hultén’s art continues to surprise for its alacrity in depicting the world not as it appears but rather in its subtext of twisted realities.
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