Establishing his first gallery in Salzburg in 1983, at age 23, Thaddeaus Ropac has extended his exhibition space to include the Villa Kast in Salzburg, and galleries in Paris, in Marais and Pantin. He has become a powerhouse in contemporary art in Europe; his organisation represents numerous international art stars, including Joseph Beuys, Robert Mapplethorpe, Alex Katz, Antony Gormly, Erwin Wurm, Banks Violette, Marc Quinn, Tom Sachs, etc. When travelling to either Salzburg or Paris, be sure catch what’s showing at Galerie Ropac, for a chance to see shows of world standard.
Galerie Ropac’s final 2012 show at Marais is a blockbuster, comprising a clutch of cutting edge works from contemporary artists into an open-ended statement on current collage strategies. We see a range of works in which the image or form is renegotiated, restructured, where collaged works are installed so as to overlap and inform one another…
As we enter the front space, we are met with a wall of four hinged mirrors; Tom Burr’s Experiment IV. Behind the mirrors, we find a cluster of Kate Bush record sleeves, tacked to the backside with pushpins. The circular cut-outs of the sleeves serve as an optical motif, and the adjustable application of the pins suggests endless recombinations, while we can imagine a person on the other side of the mirror, posturing and posing over and again to Bush’s campy stylings.
Mirrors are utilised further in the exhibition, in Urs Fischer’s Pineapple/Melon. No fruits to be found, instead four polished mirrored rectangles, onto which photographs of orthogonal (top/front/back/side) perspective photo prints, of chairs and sponges have been placed. These create a collage that moves with the viewer in real time, juxtaposing the various perspectives of sponge and furniture and absorbing glimpses of surrounding works by Sarah Morris, Claude Lévéque, Gary Webb.
Lévéque and John Armleder both employ a strategy where by way of a wall-scale digital print, the exhibition space becomes the ground for collage. Lévéque’s Vacuum in my head displays a fireworks explosion at its full scale on the wall, while its title suggests an interior implosion externalised and reversed. Armleder’s Semaeostomeae VII, on the second floor, presents a pattern of magenta jellyfish, like wallpaper or a screensaver. This in turn becomes a collage by acting as an installation space for two of Mathieu Mercier’s Pantone works; digital prints depicting rose-pink and lilac flowers, soberly placed next to colour swatches that dissect their vibrancy.
Hung on an adjacent wall, we find a curious work by Brendan Fowler; Spring 2011. In a chaotic jumble, one framed print seems to have burst directly through two other stacked framed prints and lodged itself in place. The hint of accident or incident is a spurious one; clearly to achieve such a jagged result, while creating a lasting art object, the frames must interlock through their smashed plexiglass carefully. The result is a frozen moment of surreal violence, and a direct, deadpan notion of collage.
Collage as a working process appears in the work of Lawrence Weiner. Known for large scale text pieces applied to walls, windows etc, here Weiner submits three works on paper, provisional compositions for text works utilising printed text, gouache and pencil. These piece display process and insight into the genesis of Weiner’s larger works. As their statement and title, Pending Resolve puts it, they reconfigure constantly towards a complete plan for a text installation, while being fully compelling before their resolution.
More straightforward, traditional collages appear as well, in pieces by Jesse Ash, Barbara Breitenfellner, Marcel Dzama, Angus Fairhurst, John Stezaker, Noa Giniger, Gabriel Kuri. Jonathan Monk’s Mantelpiece Piece offers a practical means to create endless image combinations, humbly stacking up many postcards on a mantlepiece. The viewer is tempted to reach in and rearrange, instead, they are left to wonder why this particular collage stands in place of so many more possibilities.
In the downstairs screening room, video pieces play in rotation on a single large projection. Catherine Sullivan’s The Chittendens is a standout, utilising overlaid transparent frames of footage to augment its already disjointed narrative. Scenes of costumed figures and managements contorting spasmodically, comically and in anguish, play between scenes of a colonial-era captain, surveying renovations of a lighthouse.
Chosen as a symbol of steadfastness, the lighthouse has the different narratives and 16 different attitudes of the actors interpolating around it. The effect is one of the confusing scenes pressing kaleidescopically upon one another and effecting their inhabitants, while eluding straightforward narrative for the viewer.
This exhibition offers a survey of collage at its most dynamic, through a wide range of contemporary practitioners, and is lighthearted, playful and colourful in its curation. There is depth beneath a bright display; the works model the manifold perspectives and fragmented nature of reality, and show how motion and placement serve to disrupt our memory and senses. It is a great success of works communicating beyond their dimensions, showcasing the power of juxtaposition and consideration in curating, in this case masterminded by Timothée Chaillou.
John M Armleder – Jesse Ash – Walead Beshty – Pierre Bismuth – Barbara Breitenfellner – Tom Burr – Anne Collier – Sam Durant – Marcel Dzama – Haris Epaminonda – Angus Fairhurst – Urs Fischer – Brendan Fowler – Luke Fowler – Noa Giniger – Wade Guyton – Robert Heinecken – Camille Henrot – Nathan Hylden – Annette Kelm – Gabriel Kuri – Elad Lassry – Claude Lévêque – Linder – Mathieu Mercier – Jonathan Monk – Sarah Morris – Richard Prince – Collier Schorr – John Stezaker – Catherine Sullivan – Kelley Walker – Gary Webb – Lawrence Weiner – TJ WIlcox – Cerith Wyn Evans
Seuls quelques fragments de nous toucheront quelques fragments d’autrui (Only Parts Of Us Will Ever Touch Parts Of Others) runs until January 19 at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Marais Gallery.
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