Isa Genzken “Wasserspeier and Angels” at Hauser & Wirth, London

By Last Updated: June 18, 2024Views: 20

On view is a revival of Isa Genzken’s expansive set up “Wasserspeier and Angels” (2004), marking 20 years because it was displayed in Genzken’s first main solo exhibition in London. Initially responding to Hauser & Wirth’s former historic area in Piccadilly in 2004, the illustration of Genzken’s advanced assemblage within the metropolis brings her work into a up to date context, confronting socio-political themes which might be nonetheless related right this moment. This second follows on from the acclaimed exhibition “Isa Genzken: 75/75” at Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin in 2023, celebrating the artist’s seventy fifth birthday with a show of 75 sculptures from her oeuvre from the Seventies to the current.

Genzken explores the relationships between totally different media and social, political and concrete areas, with references to on a regular basis lived expertise intruding on her formal experiments. The primary presentation of this work not solely marked Genzken’s inaugural present with the gallery but additionally captured a selected second in time. Working in Berlin and in New York on the flip of the century, the artist witnessed the aftermath of the autumn of the Berlin Wall and the next altering panorama of the town, in addition to the collapse of the World Commerce Middle in New York Metropolis. In parallel, from the late Nineteen Nineties on, the artist’s sculptural works moved in direction of assembled installations that borrowed their aesthetic from collages, combining objects with variations in scale. The work on view exemplifies this new creative language, characterised by its engagement with architectural type and its social dimension. By the mixture of supplies sourced for objective, this multifaceted set up comprises layered references and takes on new which means in right this moment’s panorama.

The set up’s place to begin got here from the artist’s fascination with the “Wasserspeier” (gargoyles) on Cologne Cathedral, encountering their restoration within the constructing’s masonry store. Having tried to persuade the cathedral’s grasp builder to let her take the carvings to London, the artist as a substitute created her personal gargoyles for the exhibition in 2004, setting them in dialogue with winged, angelic figures. The duality between the earthbound and the heavenly has permeated Genzken’s profession, mirrored in her formal vocabulary by way of supplies related to engineering and heaviness, resembling electrical cables, aluminum panels and trollies, along with objects evoking the sky, mild and wind, from blue sheets to vibrant lamps and umbrellas.

Traditionally, carved gargoyles have been provisions for preservation, designed to direct rainwater away from the constructing, in addition to for cover, banishing demons by holding up a mirror to evil. Bringing them from the roof to eye stage, Genzken’s gargoyles, as a substitute, confront viewers and humanity at massive. In the identical method that some gargoyles depict a hybrid of animals with human options, the artist imparts an anthropomorphic high quality to her figures by giving them heads and body-like frames. Two figures even put on Genzken’s personal clothes, a jacket and cap, lending the work an autobiographical undertone while additionally providing a reminder of civilisation.

The 4 “Wasserspeier” on trolleys seem to skate on the aluminium flooring, which brings to thoughts the Chrysler Constructing’s steel cladding. The shiny materials additionally permits the work to work together with the world round it, each actually by way of reflections and metaphorically by talking to geopolitics; as such, the work and the environment change into one. “In an effort to not characterize the world however to be a part of it—in different phrases, to be fashionable—Genzken selected as her uncooked supplies a budget, shiny, and ubiquitous constructing blocks of the up to date city atmosphere [ . . . ]. Working with these real-world supplies, she created installations that engaged with the on a regular basis in substance in addition to in topic,” remarks Laura Hoptman, co-curator of “Isa Genzken: Retrospective” (2013–14) at MoMA, New York.

Totemic columns and pedestals recur all through Genzken’s work and are seen right here cloaked in blue plastic that alludes to the wings of angels and is harking back to the best way through which robes are draped in Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings. Different objects, such because the sacrificial lamb or twigs and damaged umbrellas, evoking the ability of wind and nature, enable the viewer to narrate to the work’s inherently human qualities of fragility and vulnerability, setting Genzken other than her minimalist predecessors who pursued notions of order and energy of their work. The artist’s interaction of objects conjures a spot that’s free and ethereal while making viewers conscious of the restrictions and limitations of the true world.

at Hauser & Wirth, London
till July 27, 2024

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