Almine Rech is pleased to present Der Raum ist die Miete (The Room is the Rent), an exhibition of new work by Berlin artist Gregor Hildebrandt. This is his third solo show at Almine Rech Brussels—and his eighth with the gallery—featuring all new works in keeping with his oeuvre, which has consistently focused on the reinvention of analog audio and visual materials such as tape cassettes and vinyl records into mixed-media paintings, sculptures, and immersive installations.
This signature manoeuvre can be traced back to a pivotal moment in Hildebrandt's career when, in art school in 1997, he felt the inspiration to record a song by the band Einstürzende Neubauten onto tape cassette, only to unspool the tape, cut it up, and glue it into one of the conceptual notebooks with which he documented his painting process. Employing the idea that the artwork might possess a silent and invisible dimension which can only be realised in the mind of the viewer, Hildebrandt went on to produce a diverse range of works in this vein over the past two decades, including not only paintings incorporating audio tape, but also wall and floor works made out of cassettes and cassette cases, and installations of free-standing pillars and walls made out of compression-moulded vinyl records.
The show begins with a fake-ceiling installation (his first ever installation of this variety) made from multi-coloured vinyl EPs by the Munich-based band Paar—specifically, the album 'Hone', which was the very first release from Grzegorzki Records, the record label that Hildebrandt launched with the artist Alicja Kwade in 2018. Moving into the central exhibition space, Hildebrandt has installed white ingrain wallpaper (a textured wallpaper found in many Berlin flats), as well as an old light switch from a past apartment. Titled after a song by Tocotronic, Die Dinge um mich ergeben ein Muster (The Things around me create a Pattern, 2018) situates the viewer in a sort of archetypal dream home, like a Proustian reverie triggered by some sensory association.
A variety of works hang over the ingrain wallpaper, each of them building upon earlier works from the artist's career in a different way. For instance, a small work made by applying copper elements from audio cassette tape to canvas is in fact a miniature recreation of a much larger piece in the same style, shown at Almine Rech Paris in 2017. This pattern of revisiting earlier work resonates thematically with the sampling and resampling of recording culture, and is explicitly acknowledged in Hildebrandt's 'Rip Off' series: painting works in which the artist creates both positive and negative versions of the same image. In the 'Rip Off' piece featured here, titled Die Tränen des Triton (The Tears of Triton, 2019) we see a positive image of foam floating on the river Spree, capturing an arabesque pattern that is visually and conceptually echoed in a neighbouring pair of paintings made from cut vinyl. Both of these vinyl paintings see the artist deploy new motifs: one in mixed shades of blue, green and purple (titled Albion, 2019) is made from the same EP by Paar as the ceiling installation, and features an abstract wave motif; and another one in black (titled Midnight Oil, 2019), made from salvaged records, features white snaking lines dissecting an all-over grid, in homage to the artist Imi Knoebel. These works are joined by an almost completely white painting with a riot of colour in one corner, which was made by covering a canvas with the beginnings and ends of cassette tape, which are always either white, transparent, or brightly coloured, in distinction to the dark brown of the magnetised portion.
Moving further into the exhibition, the viewer is greeted by a series of nine views of the interior of the artist's current apartment in Berlin, from which the show takes its title, Der Raum ist die Miete (The Room is the Rent). The images are printed across cassette racks, giving one the feeling of being in a time capsule from a few decades back. Viewing theworks from left to right around the room, one virtually enters, circumambulates, and leaves his apartment through the artist's perspective. With a nod to Bruce Nauman and his video installation 'Mapping the studio I' (2001), Hildebrandt sheds light on the space from which his ideas emerge. One of the apartment views features an etching by Hildebrandt's mentor and inspiration, the artist and set designer Thomas Gruber, which references Marivaux's The Game of Love and Chance. This image speaks to the natural evolution of an artist influenced by friends and teachers both young and old. Hildebrandt's art defies neat categorisation, in that he counterposes formally reductive artistic styles such as minimalism and abstract expressionism with a rich pastiche of personal and inter-textual references. Accordingly, references to the work of art historical heavyweights like Robert Motherwell and Fred Sandback are of equal importance to his artistic practice as the work of Thomas Gruber, and the songs of popular musicians like Portishead and Leonard Cohen carry equal weight to the music of Paar. Freely constructing his own artistic cosmology from that which surrounds him, Hildebrandt masterfully splices and reconfigures both the material and immaterial, the personal and the collective: an invitation to dance to the music that only we can hear.
Almine Rech Paris is pleased to present Nuwar, Leelee Kimmel's first exhibition with the gallery.
'Stirring up a mass of dull grey plankton, again there came the shock of sheer colour—like a blow to the body, or a crashing chord to the ear. I know of no other sensation which quite equals the effect on the eye–or the brain behind the eye–as that of a great, glowing, living, rich-scarlet-red shrimp, cold as ice, just raised through a half mile of water. No flower I have ever seen in any setting could vie with it for a moment. It is worth recalling that for countless ages this shrimp and its ancestors had been merely the blackest of beings in a jet-black world, and only for the past few minutes had its blazing colour existed. This may partly explain its exciting quality, like the unused rods and cones in our own retina, when we stand on our heads and look out at the world.'1
'I am nature', Jackson Pollock famously said, and from at least the beginnings of Abstraction artists have sought deep nature, a primal language of shapes and colours presumed to lurk deep in the mind, unpolished and unmediated by conscious rationalisation. Michael Fried, equally famously, believed that the greatest Modern art was work with the condition 'of existing in, indeed of secreting or constituting, a continuous and perpetual present'.
But when you look at the unconscious mind—that is, literally look, with your eyes—what do you see? After sitting for a while in a dark room, or when you're about to doze off at night, what you see is phosphenes: those patterns, dots, grains, and swirls of (initially) weak colour on a dark background caused by the more or less random firing of neurons in the retina itself. These usually start off more abstract but, as the brain's automatic visual system begins to interpret them, they take on more figurative features, until the stage where they're called hypnagogic hallucinations—not any of the types of stronger hallucinations that arise in the brain, but something so unmediated that even less conscious animals than ourselves—insects? planaria?–might often see something very similar. These images don't at all live in that ideal garden of Modernism, the Unconscious: instead, they flash in and out of their half-existence in the Hadean-eon wilderness of our dimmest pre-unconscious.
Leelee Kimmel's paintings are investigations of inner and outer space, collisions between ur-ancient, chthonic nature and the hyper-sophisticated realm of Modernist and postmodernist art histories, between the preverbal and the phantasmagoria of the library, terse and voluble, suddenly laughing then stonily silent. Kimmel's abstract biomorphs skitter through pitch black abyssal depths, like those of Beebe's Arcturus Adventure, at once terrifying and comic. The shapes harken back to nature, while Kimmel's palette is neon and acid, resoundingly anti-naturalistic.
There's a sense of potential catastrophe crowding the margins, as forms coil and ricochet through darkness: is that a turtle or a hand grenade revolving on the periphery, is that polyp a gun? Transformation is the guiding formal but also psychological and dare I say spiritual governing force in Kimmel's dark glittering universe, fearsome and newborn, cunning monsters, mutants, aliens, explorers, invaders, these phantoms of Nuwar.
1 William Beebe, The ‘Arcturus’ Adventure, 1926
Almine Rech is pleased to present a new exhibition by Jannis Kounellis. This is the Artist's first exhibition in the United Kingdom since his passing, in February 2017. Comprising works Kounellis made between 1960 and 2014, the exhibition intends to act as an extensive overview of the Artist's career.
Jannis Kounellis moved to Rome in 1956, where he enrolled at the Accademia delle Belle Arti. While still a student, Kounellis was given his first exhibition, L'Alfabeto di Kounellis, at the Galleria La Tartaruga. There he exhibited monochrome works featuring large stencilled letters. Belonging to this series is Untitled (1960), a work consisting of the letter Z repeated three times over. Referencing both the alphabetical signifiers and typefaces used on merchant ships for packaged cargo, Kounellis' Alfabeti (Alphabet Paintings), are also concerned with the street signage the artist would have been exposed to in Rome, as can be noted in Remo (1961). Decontextualising a letter, number or symbol through isolation, and placing it onto a white support, Kounellis' intention was to focus the viewer's attention on these marks, as if, by populating a surface, they were floating away, being cast adrift.
In 1963, as the Alfabeti had become a recognised style, Kounellis began working with landscapes, and drawing his reference points from the physical world. This can be seen in Black Rose (1965-1966), a seminal work painted with Ducotone, a water-based wall paint, on large canvas measuring over two metres in length and width. Black Rose (1965-1966) emerges as a pivotal example of Kounellis' role as a founding father of Arte Povera. Its organic shape is presented in matt black, reflecting Kounellis' sculptural practice in painterly form. Compositionally, the work draws from the alchemical classification of elements, namely of fire, as well as demonstrating Arte Povera's drive to abandon colour, perceived by Kounellis as alien to the context of post-war Italy.
Acting as a testimony to Jannis Kounellis' interest in everyday materials to denote natural elements, Untitled (1991), is made out of a lightbulb, steel and lead, the first and oldest metal in alchemy, and a symbol of purification. In a dialogue with ancient scientific teachings and centuries-old systems of belief, Kounellis can be observed transcribing these cultures into his own visual language, one which places him in direct conversation with artists such as Cy Twombly, Joseph Beuys, Giuseppe Penone, amongst many others who, with him, had worked since the 1950s on creating a new approach to art making, following the Second World War.
Characteristic of Kounellis' installation practice, two steel and coal works from 2013 and 2014 demonstrate the artist's exploration around the weight of energy points and how these may impact space. Indeed, the piles of coal framed by Kounellis' identifiable steel supports also function as a link to notions of smoke, an ever-present subject in his practice, as well as fire and industry. A link can also be seen between these two works and Kounellis' personal relationship with the sea and with peripatetic travelling, specifically the Homeric notion of Nostos, the journey of a hero returning home by sea from Troy. Throughout the artist's career, references abound to his birthplace, the Greek port of Piraeus, the former heart of the Greek shipping industry, and to transportation vessels, with Kounellis emerging as an Odysseus-like figure, on a constant voyage.
The exhibition is completed with a further three works from 2014. Featuring jute, red oil and painted eggshell respectively, these artworks are concerned with the juxtaposition of precariousness and fragility with the robust iron surface which they are each comprised of. These works, which are amongst Kounellis' final ones conjure ideas of creation and destruction, and see the artist continue in his pursuit for art in everyday life.
Jannis Kounellis (b. 1936, Piraeus, Greece, d. 2017, Rome, Italy) is regarded as one of the most influential figures in post-war art. With a practice spanning over sixty years, Kounellis is often referred to as one of the forefathers of the Arte Povera movement-one that arose in the 1960s and played a central role in redefining artistic practice with radical and highly original sculpture, performance and installation. Influenced by artists such as Alberto Burri, Lucio Fontana, Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline, and both within the context of Arte Povera and outside of it, throughout his career Kounellis interrogated and extended the boundaries of contemporary art, and in particular the possibilities of painting. Although most of his works are three-dimensional and comprised of ready-made objects (and sometimes even living things-horses, birds and humans), Kounellis always insisted he was a painter first and foremost. Works by Jannis Kounellis can be found in collections such as the Tate Modern, London, the Centre Pompidou, Paris, MoMA, New York, and Guggenheim, New York, to name but a few. Throughout his life, Kounellis was the subject of major retrospectives, including the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1980, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago in 1986, and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía , Madrid, in 1996. Kounellis presented at international exhibitions such as the Paris Biennale in 1967 and in 1969, the Istanbul Biennial in 1993, the Sydney Biennial in 2008, and the Venice Biennale, where his work was exhibited nine times, in 1972, 1974, 1976, 1978, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1993 and 2015.
Concurrently with Jannis Kounellis at Almine Rech London, the artist is the subject of an extensive retrospective at the Fondazione Prada in Venice, running from 11 May through 24 November 2019. The exhibition is curated by Germano Celant, who first coined the term Arte Povera in 1967 when he published the movement's manifesto, Arte Povera: Notes for a Guerilla War.
Almine Rech is pleased to present an exhibition of photographs by Claudio Abate, the artist's second exhibition with the gallery and his first in the United Kingdom in over 15 years.
Claudio Abate was born in Rome in 1943. Abate started his career as a photographer at the age of fifteen, when he opened a photography laboratory in his father's studio. While still very young, Claudio Abate started collaborating with the Press Service Agency, and from 1961 through to 1963 he became assistant to one of the founders of the Magnum photography agency, together with Eric Lessing. While at Magnum, Abate started collaborating with Life Magazine, becoming a foreign correspondent and sending commissioned photographs to the US. Thanks to the fame he acquired so early, both as a photographer and as a photojournalist, he was able to publish his photographs in other famous magazines, such as Sipario, Domus, Carte Segrete, Metro, and Il Giornale dell'Arte, also being given covers for L'Espresso.
Having become friends with Mario and Marisa Merz, he worked with both artists in a series of photographs of their works, such as Scarpette (1968), and Che Fare (1968). Scarpette (1968), presents two shoes woven using nylon by Marisa Merz on a seashore at Fregene. A wave occupies the upper side of the picture, leaving the viewer questioning whether the tide has brought the shoes to land or if they are about to be swept away by the sea. In Che Fare (1968), Claudio Abate documents a sculptural installation by Mario Merz, which had been named after Lenin's 1902 pamphlet on the importance of the intellectual's role in revolution. In adopting this phrase within his work, Merz was signalling towards the new role artists had acquired. 'What to do?' was a question which artists needed to consider when making art, at a time when, as Germano Celant stated, the status quo was 'the authoritarian power of one generation over another'. The statement can be read as a warning of the artist's role in the fragile state of post-war Europe. Claudio Abate's Che Fare (1968), focuses on the iconography of the hand-written phrase. The opaqueness of the water spill below it rhymes with the stark black of the graffiti, the water an extension of the outpour of the artist's hand.
While working on other projects, Claudio Abate was an integral part of the artistic scene in Rome. From the 1960s, Claudio Abate was called to work as the official photographer for Galleria La Salita owned by Gian Tommaso Liverani, and until 1977 he was also one of the documenters of the exhibitions and performances which took place at another celebrated Rome gallery, L'Attico owned by the father and son team of Bruno and Fabio Sargentini. It was at the Galleria L'Attico in 1969 that Claudio Abate documented a ground-breaking Kounellis exhibition which featured live horses. Kounellis' 12 Live Horses (1969) was conceived in a pictorial composition: it presents the rectangular gallery space as resembling a canvas, which is populated with horses, organised elements within the picture plane. As the gallery can be perceived as containing the horses like a frame, these in turn indicate the dimensions of the gallery, becoming part of the architecture.
In Claudio Abate's photograph 12 Live Horses (1969), the archaic elegance in the obscurity of the horses' movement and behaviour is felt in the depth and darkness of their fur and opaque suggestions of their form, which contrast the concrete, white stillness and banality of the gallery. The result is an icon of impression, imbued with the aura of the confrontation with the ancient and graceful beasts. The jagged outline of the white horse in the foreground suggests movement, perhaps even attempted escape, but above all, tension between their captivation in the dead, low room and their liveliness, the potential for an event, a revolt against their host space and the dignity of their presence as guests. Kounellis and Abate's great friendship and ongoing collaboration is further documented in Abate's Black Rose (1966), which stands as testimony to Kounellis' homonymous series of works based on a dark flower silhouetted against a white background. In the photograph, Kounellis' shadow can be observed watching his canvas, almost merged with the plain wall it is hung from with a chain.
By 1970, the year Abate captured Gino de Dominicis's Zodiaco performance, he had become the main reference point for Italian artists, who called him in to capture their exhibitions and performances. Working across public and public spaces, Abate became familiar with the art of Cy Twombly at Gian Enzo Sperone, Ugo Ferranti and Konrad Fischer's galleries, striking up a long professional collaborations and friendships with him and many other artists. From the 1980s, Claudio Abate associated himself with Berlin's Neue Wilden artistic current, specifically with Markus Lupertz and A. R. Penk, becoming their official photographer.
Abate first exhibited to the public in 1972, when his photography was included in Incontri Internazionali d'Arte: Contatti con la Superﬁcie Sensibile, as full-size prints in black and white, produced through the direct contact of the subject with photographic paper sensitised to light, in a homage to his friends and collaborators. This exhibition was followed by La malattia dell'Occhio (1979), where Abate introduced in his photography the torsion typical of painterly anamorphosis, and Progetto per un Monumento al Cinema (1983), created using the technique known as contact printing, starting from some photograms of a film by Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni.
From the 1990s, Claudio Abate developed research projects in which he would invite his artist friends to work with him in the dark room. To this series belong Obscura (2005), The Bathroom (2008), and Pesci e Formiche (2009). Together with these works, Abate has left us some of the most intense and evocative portraits of artists, taken both as commissions and as candid snaps. In 2009 he organised an exhibition which saw 64 artists present a work of theirs based on a single, common theme an oval shape devised by Abate.
Claudio Abate (b. 1943, Rome, Italy, d. 2017, Rome, Italy) was given his first solo exhibition was in 1979 at the Centro Culturale dell'Immagine Il Fotogramma. In 1993 Abate presented a series of his photographic experimentations at the Venice Biennale. Documented from the first half of the 1990s is his professional relationship with the French Academy in Rome at Villa Medici, which led to the creation of some of his most expressive images. One of his final projects took place in the summer of 2017, at the exhibition of Yoko Ono and Claire Tabouret. Finally, highlights of Abate's career include his collaborations with Fondazione Volume and Galleria dell'Oca. In 2010 the Archivio Abate was instituted: arranged by artist and exhibition space, it serves as an immense historical photographic catalogue of artistic life in Rome and internationally.
Cahiers d'Art is proud to present two exhibitions of works on paper by Lee Ufan.
The complete series of Lee Ufan's gouaches, Acorns and Wildcat created in 1983 to illustrate the great Buddhist writer Kenji Miyazawa's eponymous text, are on view at 14, rue du Dragon. These eleven gouaches, evolving from black to orange through blue and brown, are abstract calligraphies that not only develop the rich Buddhist consciousness of this famous tale, but communicate and portray its dreamlike and measureless scope.
Across the street, at 15, rue du Dragon, Lee Ufan's six new drypoint etchings, created especially for Cahiers d'Art, are on display. Printed on Hahnemüle paper, the small ones are signed and numbered in an edition of 20. The highlight of the exhibition is two 5-metre-long etchings on steel printed on Japan paper. A specially designed fabric box has been created to store the rolled print. Each print is signed and numbered in an edition of 10.
Passionate about prints, Lee Ufan had for many years wanted to test the limits of horizontality by creating an extremely long etching. Finally, at the studio of master printer Michael Woolworth, he realised this dream. By approaching the enormous proportions and hardness of the steel plates with all his physical strength, the artist created two different works as two ways to explore an infinite trajectory. Together an artistic, physical and technical feat, these impressive etchings are the result of an extraordinary cooperation between the artist and the entire workshop team.
A book in the form of a leporello accompanies the project. On its accordion folds, the second long etching is reproduced entirely. Both vigorous and meditative, Lee Ufan's etchings are an invitation to let our gaze drift over the lines and get lost in the voids. Fading in front of his own work, the artist thus traces for us a path to the invisible: 'I hope that through this piece the audience does not simply sense a creation by Lee Ufan, but rather that they are exposed, through Lee Ufan as the intermediary, to the transcendence of a world far away.'