17 January - 23 February 2008
Max Wigram Gallery, 99 New Bond Street, London
PRIVATE VIEW: Wednesday, 23rd January, 6:30-8:30pm
Max Wigram Gallery is pleased to present its first solo exhibition by Czech-born, UK based, artist Pavel Büchler. An artist, influential teacher and occasional writer, Büchler is interested in what art makes possible to realise: both to think and to do. Summing up his own practice as "making nothing happen", he is committed to the catalytic nature of art, providing a means to respond to the familiar in a new way and creating the conditions, "like an incompetent electrician", to short-circuit incompatible perspectives.
Büchler belongs to a generation of artists directly influenced by the discoveries of 1970s conceptual art - or, as he insists, by the creative misunderstandings that conceptual art suffered in translation to the Eastern European cultural and political context. His formally diverse work utilises a variety of media including obsolete technology, light and texts, often referencing modern art, literature or critical thought. Through the manipulation of found materials and distortions of language, in the form of subtle interventions and wry texts, Büchler seeks economic conceptual precision while openly playing with the flexible aesthetics of chance. By drawing attention to the obvious but unnoticed connections in the viewer's experience, perceptions and cultural knowledge, he simultaneously attempts to reveal the world without illusion and to show the inexhaustible ambiguity of interpretation.
The title of the show - SOLD OUT - refers to an absence or disappearance. It evokes empty shelves following the holiday sales or, on a more self-mocking level, a critique of the strategies and aesthetics of reduction in which the work is nevertheless engaged. Whether objects are omitted or erased, the resulting "emptiness" or "invisibility" is always a new construction and, for Büchler, a manifestation of the questions that memory poses to our notions of both reality and culture.
Borrowing one half of its title from a Magritte pipe painting ('The Blind Ones') and the other from Marcel Broodthaers, Les Ombres (Idea for a project), mis-dated 1958, features Marcel Duchamp's shadow, derived from the artist's 1958 Self Portrait in Profile. When projected from a 1958 Gnome slide projector onto an old-fashioned classroom wall chart, it becomes at once an almost didactic re-statement of Duchamp's denunciation of 'retinal' art and a new image in its own right.
A series of drawings of hands - a recurring motif in Büchler's work - explores the illusions of shadow puppetry and the tautology of non-verbal communication. Taken from instruction manuals, and rendered onto carbonless copy paper, they will eventually fade, leaving perhaps barely perceptible traces as a challenge to imagination.
This logic of disappearance and recovery is partly confirmed and partly reversed in Modern Paintings (an ongoing series since 1997). The works look like abstract expressionist paintings but are nothing else than abandoned pictures found in flea markets, donated by friends or rescued from an art school skip and reinvested with new life by stripping, washing the canvases as laundry, and reapplying the paint in arbitrary patterns. Like Büchler's sculptures assembled from what happens to be at hand in the studio, his video loops made from scraps of footage randomly found on the internet, or like the time reclaimed in photographs taken during cigarette breaks from "work", they reclaim purpose from what is of no use and hover between the everyday and the epic.
Pavel Büchler, born in Prague, lives and works in Manchester. Recent and forthcoming solo exhibitions include the Kunsthalle Bern (2006), Goethe Institut, Dublin (2006), Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (2007) and objectif_exhibitions/MuHKA, Antwerp, (2007), Frankfurter Kunstverein (2008), Sleeper, Edinburgh (2008) and DOX, Prague (2009). He has recently participated in "Whatever Happened to Social Democracy?" (co-curated with Charles Esche, Rooseum, Malmö, 2005), "Off-Key", Kunsthalle Bern (2005), "Alchemy", The Manchester Museum (2005), the 9th Istanbul Biennial (2005), The Grand Promenade, National Museum of Modern Art, Athens (2006) and other group exhibitions in the UK and Europe. A new monograph on his work, Absentmindedwindowgazing, was published in summer 2007 (Veenman Publishers, Rotterdam).
For further information, please contact the gallery at firstname.lastname@example.org.