New York-based Swiss-born artist Urs Fischer continues to surprise with his unpredictable and provocative works of art.
The solo exhibition features his perception-altering new works, blurring boundaries between genres.
New York-based Swiss-born artist Urs Fischer is known for his daring and paradoxical works which challenge perception. Earlier on, he has built houses out of bread, changed one of his works from a bed to a horse, and dug an eight-foot deep crater in a gallery space. In the current exhibition, 11 large-scale tableaux made up of found images, expressive gestures and photographs of the artist’s personal spaces are showcased. Located in the historic Pedder Building in Hong Kong, Gagosian Gallery presents Urs Fischer’s first solo show in Asia. The exhibition, which also coincided with Art Basel Hong Kong, is on view from 20 March to 13 May 2017.
Fischer, born in Zürich, Switzerland in 1973, studied at the Delfina Studio Trust in London. He visited de Ateliers in Amsterdam and Schule für Gestaltung in Zürich, where he studied photography. Currently, he lives and works in New York. He is known for his cast sculptures, assemblages, paintings, digital montages, spatial installations, kinetic objects and texts which bring everyday life to the fore. Some of his large-scale works are placed outside of the iconic Seagram building. He has also created a number of participatory exhibitions in which viewers took part in creating the experience.
His works have been exhibited widely and internationally, including at Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Santa Monica Museum of Art, California; Kunsthaus Zürich, Switzerland; Espace 315, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Hamburger Bahnhof, Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin; Camden Arts Centre, London; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; New Museum, New York; Kunsthalle Wien; “Madame Fisscher,” Palazzo Grassi, Venice; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Modern Institute, Glasgow; Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow; and Fondation Vincent Van Gogh, Arles. Fischer’s work was included in the 2003, 2007, and 2011 editions of the Venice Biennale.
To coincide with the centenary of Rodin’s death in 1917, his work is installed alongside sculptures by Auguste Rodin at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco in April 2017 as a part of the “Rodin Dialogues”.
Paradoxes and problems
The title of this solo exhibition consists of a four-line musical staff, instead of five. A treble clef and several musical notes are positioned on those lines. Music is implied, but no apparent tune can be played. Hence, it is inexpressible. This is a common characteristic throughout Fischer’s oeuvre. The paradoxical nature of the title sums up the entire show. When questioned about his views towards reality, Fischer remarks:
As an artist you compete with reality, and the order of reality is always more interesting than the order you can make. But, because you make the order, it becomes information.
Problem paintings and the alteration of perception
In the solo show at Gagosian Gallery, Urs Fischer continues his perception-altering pursuit with 11 large-scale tableaux made up of found images, expressive gestures and photographs of his personal spaces.
These works are a continuation of his “Problem Paintings” from 2011, in which he obstructed vintage publicity headshots with silkscreened images of ordinary objects such as a bolt or a banana. However, when viewed closely, the pictures are neither paintings nor photographs. The brushstrokes, in fact, are not real brushstrokes. They are silkscreened over “homescapes” and “studioscapes”, which are domestic and atelier views, providing glimpses of works in progress, art materials, furniture and artworks from Fischer’s own collection.
The artist continues to explore the paradox between abstraction and representation by digitally manipulating photographs of brushstrokes, forging gestural streaks by inserting and blurring images such as television screens and faces.
Materiality, form and the act of looking
The act of looking is a curious one. In Foamcore (2017), various works by Fischer as well as his silkscreen test prints are juxtaposed against each other near a studio wall. Purple brushstroke-like shapes covered with grainy television static look as if they are smeared across the surface of the work. Or are they? One can also perceive that they are smeared on top of the works in the room depicted in the work. The distinction between foreground and background is disrupted.
In this work, Fischer references the long art historical tradition of paintings within paintings. This technique can also be seen in the nautical scenes and maps on the walls of Vermeer’s interiors, as well as Velázquez’s grand enigma Las Meninas and Matisse’s pictographic Red Studio.
In terms of materiality, Fischer also introduces the enigma of whether the work is photography or painting. Throughout his oeuvre, Fischer expresses traditional art historical genres in surprising forms and materials.
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