Galerie Eva Presenhuber is delighted to present A Month Away, a summer showroom of recent works by gallery artists. Taking its title from a relief by Wyatt Kahn, A Month Away highlights the manifold approaches to painting, sculpture, and printmaking in the gallery’s program.
Jean-Marie Appriou’s (born 1986 in Brest, FR) sculptures evoke archaic forms and are inspired by contemporary, but also mythological and futuristic worlds. His works are often crafted from the very modern material of aluminum, the design possibilities of which the artist constantly expands upon through experimentation and in combination with other metals. By alluding to familiar forms, be they animal or human, and developing his unique, almost alchemical approach to his source material, Appriou has created his very own mythology.
Martin Boyce’s (born 1967 in Hamilton, UK) work has a dark, pensively poetic undertone that augurs the end of an era. And not just the end of the 20th-century avant-garde, whose dreams and triumphs still echo in our present, but also the end of our very own time. Where the spirit of “form follows function” can be said to blow through his sculptures, drawings, and photographs, quiescent allusions to nature, poetry, and film noir are like shadows lingering over them. A sense of transience and abandonment inhabits Boyce’s work, giving it a romantic touch.
Joe Bradley’s (born 1975 in Kittery, ME, US) versatile painterly oeuvre has suggested allusions to Abstract Expressionism, to Philip Guston, or to Minimal Art, all with a very contemporarily distant, not entirely tangible twist that nonchalantly oscillates between irony and melancholy. Recently, however, Bradley has developed a new visual language that is entirely his own. Only in the past two years has the artist sparked a dialogue between his canvases and his works on paper—as if they were nodding to each other.
In his sculptures and collages, Valentin Carron (born 1977 in Martigny, CH) imitates traditional handicrafts and unknown artworks, as well as stereotypical modern and everyday forms. By appropriating these objects and styles, he questions originality, authenticity, and identity in the globalized world. He reformulates traditional handicrafts, mainly from his Swiss homeland, by substituting natural materials like wood for synthetic materials; conversely, he commissions well-trained craftsmen to create precious works imitating cheap industrial articles.
Concerned with the intimacy of time, the illustration of place, and exploration of mortality, Sam Falls (born 1984 in San Diego, CA, US) has created his own formal language by intertwining photography’s core parameters of time and exposure with nature and her elements. Working largely outdoors with vernacular materials and nature as a site-specific subject, Falls abandons mechanical reproduction in favor of a more symbiotic relationship between subject and object. In doing so, he bridges the gap between photography, sculpture, and painting, as well as the divide between artist, object, and viewer.
Wyatt Kahn’s (born 1983 in New York, NY, US) most recent body of work is, weirdly if paradoxically, as tough as it is vulnerable. Working with sheets of lead, oil stick, and shaped stretchers, Kahn constructs what can be considered, for lack of a better term, “specific objects.” Neither painting nor sculpture, in the strict sense of the art forms, they are both, and more. The artist’s three-dimensional wall works draw on a formal figurative reference, which becomes so abstracted as to take on an obscure semiotic or linguistic complexion. Kahn also considers these “signs” flattened characters based on people from his immediate milieu.
Tobias Pils’ (born 1971 in Linz, AT) paintings and graphic works are almost beyond interpretation. His painting process is characterized by planning, which then negates itself throughout its execution. As a result, representation flips into abstraction, figuration turns into composition. Pils’ work creates an unease of interpretation and challenges the notion of subjectivity in painting: His method follows intuition and is created in the context of the painter’s everyday.
Ugo Rondinone (born 1964 in Brunnen, CH, lives in New York, NY, US) has worked in a broad array of media since the 1980s, studying how common, sometimes banal forms of the everyday influence our way of perceiving our environment. Rondinone examines the link between the natural world and the human condition, mining the German Romantic movement as a primary source of reference, to create works wherein the commonplace of everyday occurrences and materials gives way to the sublimity of environmental phenomena.
Tschabalala Self (born 1990 in New York, NY, US) engages the overarching history of art-making by foregrounding the human body in her work. However, she refers to her painted characters as “avatars,” placing them in conversation with the digital age, even as her decidedly handmade process engages with tradition. Through technology and social media, we create virtual personas assembled from parts of ourselves we want to highlight; Self’s collaged characters may be seen as tactile extensions of that principle. These images emerge from personal exploration and an investigation of identity… The discordantly patterned fabrics combine into bodies that exaggerate curves and simplify features but ultimately resolve into figures with scale and presence. Self’s characters are typically nude and often in intimate settings, finding power rather than vulnerability in the exposure of the human form.
Josh Smith (born 1976 in Okinawa, JP) first gained attention in the early 2000s with a series of paintings of his name. Later, he began to unwind the name to create a series of sharp, colorful, and inscrutable abstract paintings. In recent years, the abstract paintings morphed into more pictorial works of singular subjects such as leaves, fish, skeletons, reapers, and palm trees. These subjects were partially chosen because they can be easily rendered by most anyone who cares to try. Therefore, the rendering of an image does not over-engage itself with any attempt towards pictorial virtuosity. For Smith, paintings are largely hosts for expression and experimentation.
Franz West (born 1947 in Vienna, AT; died 2012 in Vienna, AT) was an internationally renowned sculptor who is considered one of the most influential artists of the past 50 years. He began to develop his works in the 1970s, centered around sculpture but also including drawing and collage. From the 1980s, West focused on art as something to use and communicate with by inventing the Passstücke—Adaptives. These are sculptures that can be touched and worn by the viewer, situating themselves somewhere in between a trap and a supporting device. West referred to them as incarnations of neurosis. In the following years, West produced a significant oeuvre of sculptures made of plaster and Papier-mâché, furniture, collages, and large-scale sculptures, which were often intended for public spaces.
Using his representational drawings as appropriated images, Michael Williams (born 1978 in Doylestown, PA, US) works through an analog process of drawing and collage to produce the source images for his Puzzle Paintings. The finished canvases present a discontinuous whole and summon the fragmented nature of our contemporary everyday. Whether Williams composes his paintings on canvas or screen, they are informed by art history and pop-cultural iconography, while nonetheless leaving space for unexpected events to occur during the process. As a result, they emanate a sometimes ironic, sometimes funny tension that is always seductive to the eye.