LIONEL ESTÈVE "a wander"
Opening Reception: Saturday 18 April, 4-9pm
18 April - 30 May 2015
Galerie Perrotin, Paris
The day we met, Lionel Estève was setting up a "Retrospective" in Brussels of his own invitation cards. In his case, we could say that an exhibition starts with the invitation card: the name, the dates, the place and then a title: "a wander." There is also an image on the back, and the artist adopts a unique position: it is not about a work, a detail, but a photograph that he has taken and that he uses to poetically introduce the exhibition. Here, a bit of landscape, a tree, a hillside descending to the banks of a river and its reflection in the water. It is bucolic, and yet quickly we discover that the reflection doesn't match the image and that, mysteriously, it shows even more than reality; it is an image spontaneously taken by the artist during one of his walks around the Imperial Park of Tokyo. This is the grand theme of the solitary wanderer, of his contact with Nature, which we can say is omnipresent in the work of Lionel Estève; I see here a common thread in his singular and unique body of work.
"Brilliant flowers, diverse colors of the meadows, fresh shady spots, brooks, thickets, greenery, come purify my imagination sullied by all those hideous objects." (1)
Galerie Perrotin, Paris will first present two large landscapes on glass, then six paintings in a new and unique medium: the artist collected various types of plants, dried and pressed, bleached with ink and painted with watercolors following their organic structures. In dried and gilded poppies, one cannot miss the bell shape so present in his work. In another room, a frieze of dried and stiffened plants, also gilded with gold leaf, at the base of the walls. Above the frieze: several large-format watercolors, crystals constellations in the shape of geometric prisms, creating multiple variations of colors. In the last room: a herbarium of dried and gilded plants, some very large, arranged on the wall, a little like Matisse and his cut-outs: "but I believe this will be impressive, like a jungle or a blazing summer." (2) This is his first exhibition where the vegetal world is so present in the work. It is an occasion to demonstrate how, with each exhibition, the artist renews his body of work. Is this the same Lionel Estève whose exhibition we saw on rue de Turenne in 2005, and three years ago in Impasse Saint Claude? This is an artist who constantly experiments in his studio, and today the subject is gigantic dried leaves and the technique of gold-leafing. Rather than lecturing on the appearance of gold in the chromatic and material universe of the artist, we simply recall that when the solution on which the gold leaf is applied is ready, it is described as "amoureuse" (in love). In all of these techniques there is a souvenir of craftsmanship, of handiwork, of moments spent with children. From these simple gestures, Lionel Estève succeeds in producing singular works. Often, at first, it is as if there is a play, a reinterpretation of the gesture: a felt-tip pen is used to "mark," watercolor is dropped in a puddle of water, the color is dissipated... the works are of the lightest sort. Paul Klee insisted on "only saying things once, and the simplest way possible."
"My latest film comes out on December 30th. There is nothing to understand. To take from, yes... but to understand, that's quite a big word. When I hear a Madonna album, I don't understand the words, but that doesn't mean that I don't understand the album." (3)
One would like to say that this unique and singular work corresponds to unique and singular methods. How does Lionel Estève work? It generally begins with this special relationship with Nature, in the Drôme, or in Tuscany. As he says, "nature tells us something." In this exhibition, Nature speaks, and what she says is mysterious. It is not about an ecological or melancholic relationship, but a very contemporary and constructive one, a new way of thinking of drawing and sculpture... The relationship with Nature is personal and, of necessity, complex; it is not given, it is learned, and earned. Certainly, there are images of freedom, of leisure, of space.... but there is also the revelation of losing oneself in the universe, or what Rousseau called "those delights, those moments of rapture, those ecstasies." From these are born the observations and experimentations that will inspire the projects, to be followed by moments of improvisation.
1. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, "Rêveries du promeneur solitaire", Les Classiques de Poche, 2001, p.142
2. Quotes are extracts of interviews, emails exchanges with the artist and extracts of the forthcoming book : "A very small part of infinity"
3. Jean-Luc Godard, "Documents", Editions du Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2006, p.330
On the occasion of the exhibition, a 160 page book, "A very small part of infinity" has been published by Analogues, featuring a conversation between Lionel Estève and Herman Byrd.
A solo exhibition entitled "Un nuage sur mes épaules" is dedicated to Lionel Estève until June 7, 2015 at the BlueProject Foundation, Barcelona; a book will be published including, in particular, a text by Denys Zacharopoulos.
1. Untitled, 2015. Plants gilded with golden leaf, thread. 40 x 30 cm / 15 3/4 x 11 3/4 inches
2. Untitled, 2015. Acrylic paint on glass, frame. 157 x 207 cm / 61 3/4 x 81 1/2 inches
MEL ZIEGLER "Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones"
Opening reception: Saturday 18 April, 4-9pm
18 April - 30 May 2015
Galerie Perrotin, Paris
Galerie Perrotin, Paris is pleased to present "Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones," the first solo exhibition of Mel Ziegler in France, presenting a selection of new and recent works by the American artist. The show will also include works from his influential collaboration with Kate Ericson, beginning in the late 70s and continuing until Ericson's premature death in 1995.
Synthesizing conceptual, Land art, and interventionist strategies, Ericson and Ziegler developed a distinctly American community-based art outside the orbit of New York. Working directly with local iconography, sites, and communities across America, the pair staged interventions with and for these communities, and produced works, largely sculptural, from these interventions. Throughout their collaboration, the couples' work was exhibited by numerous galleries and museums, and was the subject of the traveling retrospective "America Starts Here" in 2005 (organized by Bill Arning and Ian Berry), as well as a comprehensive exhibition at Galerie Perrotin New York in 2014. In 1992, Emmanuel Perrotin dedicated a solo show to the artists in his first gallery, from which two pieces, "Vinegar of the 48 Weeds" and "Rock Jar" (1992), are presently on view.
Following the passing of Kate Ericson, Mel Ziegler has continued an artistic practice founded on the central concerns and strategies he and his partner established in their collaboration, but which has, over time, loosened formally and methodologically, allowing for a new degree of humor, serendipity, and a certain craftiness to enter his work. In the first room of the gallery, both the roots of his practice with Ericson as well as a more relaxed sensibility are evident with "Rock Hard Individualism" (2010). At first glance the work appears as a map of the United States composed of a variety of found stones. A second look reveals that each stone might be seen as a face. Ziegler, who has a thing for collecting these rock faces as he finds them, offers up a little bit of playful irony in his maturity: individually, each stone might not read as face to anyone except Ziegler, but organized together, we can no longer help but see each rock as having a countenance of its own. On a nearby wall is an arrangement of some two-dozen brightly colored toy guns handmade by the children of the artist. Production was undertaken out of necessity—the artist was unwilling to purchase toy guns for his children on moral grounds—and so, fashioning the toys out of cardboard, duct tape, foil and paper with reference images from the internet, Ziegler's children made their own. Like "Rock Hard Individualism", this untitled work plays both with and against much of Ericson & Ziegler's earlier iconic participatory work, wryly replacing the distinct local communities who engaged in projects like "Give and Take" (1986), "Loaded Text"(1988), or "Camouflaged History"(1991), with the community of his own nuclear family.
The family and its relationship to community, nation and politics—though again with an injection of levity—is a theme which carries through into "Carry a Big Stick" (2015), a title which makes partial reference to President Teddy Roosevelt's foreign policy of "Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick." Antique ammunition boxes, each lined with red velvet, have been filled with "fetch sticks." "Fetch sticks," as Ziegler calls them, are the sticks which he has collected and used over the last five years to play fetch with his dog. This American pit-bull named Sister, with whom Ziegler sometimes plays in front of the Capitol Building in Washington, is a sweet, affectionate animal, and no more inherently vicious than the sticks in the disarmed, luxuriously-lined ammo boxes on display in the present exhibition.
The exhibition also features two new iterations of "Stuffed" (2003), a site-specific project installed throughout Vienna for Ziegler's solo show at the Wiener Secession. "Stuffed" arose in part out of the observation that museum showcases, especially in a city like Vienna, form an integral part of the grammar of presentation for not just the Arts, but also for the display of salable luxury goods in the city's famous shopping district. Taking about fifty museum vitrines, Ziegler relocated them around the city and stuffed them full of plain straw, drawing a viewer away from the object behind the glass, and redirecting him to attend the case itself and its role in creating an "aura of display." A viewer is further encouraged, by this inversion of display and what is displayed, to consider the relationship between luxury goods and art objects, public presentation and private consumption, as well as the social, commercial, and institutional frames and behaviors that contribute to establishing these distinctions.
Lastly, the exhibition will present a series of photos titled, "An American Conversation" (2013). Following a historic drought in the rural Midwest of the United States in 2012, Ziegler travelled around the region, bringing a mobile lighting rig along with him to capture the changing, often starkly beautiful fields at night. Shooting in the dark with artificial light illuminates a focal point for our attention, centering the rhythm of the rows of cotton or stalks of corn, in what would normally be an overwhelming, undifferentiated view of a vast agricultural landscape.
Mel Ziegler was born in 1956 in Pennsylvania, he resides in Nashville, Tennessee. His collaboration with Kate Ericson (from 1978 to 1995) was the subject of over a hundred exhibitions, group and solo shows as well as museum retrospectives. Several solo exhibitions were dedicated to his solo practice since Ericson death, including at the Secession, Vienna (2003), at The National Museum of Art, Osaka (2001) and at Paula Cooper Gallery, New York (2000). This summer, The Utah Museum of Contemporary Art will dedicate a extensive show to Mel Ziegler, as well as a selection of works from the duo's early collaboration. His personal and collaborative work can be found in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum Of American Art, New York ; the San Francisco MOMA ; the MOCA Los Angeles ; the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego ; the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo ; the Bronx Museum, New York ; the Des Moines Art Center, Iowa ; and The National Museum of Art, Osaka, among others.
1. "Rock Hard Individualism", 2010. Rocks, aluminium . 84 x 166 x 12 cm / 65 1/4 x 4 3/4 x 33 inches
2. "Drought, Mount Pleasant, TN", 2013. Color potographic print. 83 cm x 121 cm / 32 3/4 x 47 1/2 inches
- NEW YORK -
16 April - 23 MayElmgreen & Dragset
28 may - 3 julyPark Seo-Bo
- PARIS -
7 March - 11 April
"The Sacred and The Profane"
18 April - 30 may
"Sticks and Stones
May Break My Bones"
- HONG KONG -
12 March - 30 April
"Coming by Hazard"
"Ghosts of Ellis Island.
project, short preview"
21 may - 27 june