Erwin Wurm, Exhibition view
January 12 to February 24, 2007
Opening Reception: Thursday, January 11 | 10 pm
Gallery Hours: Tuesday through Friday from 11 am to 8 pm | Saturday from noon to 8 pm | Closed Monday
Address: Rua Santo António ŕ Estrela, 33
T (351) 213 959 559
F (351) 213 959 567
For his first solo exhibition at the gallery, Erwin Wurm will be presenting a selection of recent sculptures that critique the formalist legacy of modernism together with a series of recent colour photographs documented in one of the artist's latest catalogues, published on the occasion of the travelling exhibition 'The artist who swallowed the world'.
Born in 1954 in Bruck an de Mur, Austria, Erwin Wurm possesses an extensive, multi-layered oeuvre that resists chronological intervention. The themes he explores are not adopted with the intention of resolve but rather one of provisional attention, insistent questioning and furthering, which often means that groups of work re-emerge, issues are re-launched from different prisms, questions converge or overlap. Despite the shifting, multimedial nature of his work, the crux of his ongoing enquiry is that of sculpture, what defines and constitutes it, much in the wake of the form and anti-form discussion of the mid-60s. To this effect, Wurm is consistently drawn to the issues of classical sculptural conventions and the rigidity of medium-specificity, which he undermines through his integration of found objects, his welcoming of mutation, deformation, failure and the every day, his appeal to audience participation and his inclusion of photography and video into this rich sphere of concerns.
In the case of this exhibition, Erwin Wurm will be showing two of his most recent sculptures, 'The artist who swallowed the world' and 'The artist who swallowed the world when it was still a disc'. In the case of the two pieces, Wurm reemploys the theme of absurd over-indulgence, this time round, that of the insatiable, travelling, world-famous, self-important and self-absorbed artist who has swallowed the world in two distinct forms. For the obsessive artist, contentment does not come with artistic aspiration but global projection. Once that has been attained, the next step is ingestion, the mouthing of the planet as a final symbolic act of dominance. Left immobile and probably in need of something for the heartburn, this life-size sculpture is a self-critical caricature that presents the growing, self-absorbed artist as a menace to himself and the world. Both of these sculptures bespeak man's blind faith in science. Wurm's pieces hark back to the controversy in the Middle Ages when some argued that the world was flat and others that it was round. For Wurm, the world can have more than one reality.
Together with these two pieces, the artist will also be presenting several examples of his melting buildings. In the case of 'Mies van der Rohe Melting', Wurm collapses the durable and rigid steel framework of a model of Mies' architecture by "melting it". In doing so, he reassess the role of certain conditions in sculpture, countering the classical pure, durable forms of modernism to include dissolve, softness and the force of gravity (through spreading) as added sculptural states.
A photographic series with Eames and Prouvé designer furniture, together with other classical pieces, which now function as icons will also be on view in the gallery. In this series, Wurm explores the acts of crushing, squashing and squeezing of objects under these chairs and tables as a means of drawing the absurd (a site which has been excluded from the discourse of modernism) and the everyday into the haughty sphere of these designer pieces. In the case of 'Venetian Baroque', Wurm places a low-class food, the ham sandwich, peppered with thin slices of pickle, beneath the weight of the console table's carved legs. In the aforementioned catalogue, he reveals that he was "thinking about food and the role of still life painting, especially [in] the Northern Renaissance and the Baroque" on realizing this piece. Erwin Wurm seeks to de-sanctify these objects by removing them from their place of reverence and ritual into the sphere of the everyday of use and play, searching a new life for them, a new attitude towards their existence in our society. ND
Erwin Wurm will be present for the opening on Thursday evening.