TOTAL CONTROL ZONE

10.11. - 21.12.2018
PREVIEW 10.11.2018 11AM-3PM

Nils Stærk is proud to present Gardar Eide Einarsson's fifth solo exhibition in the gallery. Einarsson examines the balance of power between state and individual in his current exhibition: TOTAL CONTROL ZONE - a series of new works, which relate to the way the body interfaces with the state. 

The exhibition title TOTAL CONTROL ZONE comes from the term for the strictest security level within the notorious North Korean concentration camps. The term can also draw the mind to a more general dystopic endpoint of state mass surveillance of the individual - a reality that draws closer with the advent of advanced technologies and artificial intelligence. In his current exhibition, Einarsson presents a series of new works which raise questions about how individuals relate to state control, sometimes desiring it, sometimes resisting it, sometimes falling victim to it. 

Gardar Eide Einarsson's works are direct and uncompromising in their interpretation of the social dichotomies of society. These are brought into play through two kinds of images: associative images and images that are being decontextualized and converted into paintings and installations. 

The human body is a continuous motif in the exhibition as the site where repression becomes a lived reality and is represented in a series of five new paintings with the collective title Common Errors. These paintings, based on illustrations of common errors when firing handguns from a police and military training manual in the 1960s, have been penetrated where the bullets would have entered the target, recalling the real physical violence of the bullet as well as the pierced paintings of postwar-artist Lucio Fontana.  

The anthropomorphic theme is continued in two other paintings: one based on a cartoon set in the Vietnam war depicting a caricatured fist of an officer with an outstretched index finger summoning the audience to join him in war. The second is based on a book cover of an inflammatory 1960s tome titled The Riotmakers where red splotches of paint merge with a white background cleared from information, which next to the pierced silhouettes, brings memories of abandoned human traces. 

Gardar Eide Einarsson (Born 1976, Oslo, Norway) Lives and works in Tokyo.

Einarsson is currently having solo exhibitions at Team Gallery, New York and Standard (Oslo). Previously Einarsson has been showing at several institutions all over the world, amongst others; Kunsthalle Fridericianum (solo); Kunstverein Frankfurt (solo); Centre d'Art Contemporain, Geneva (solo); Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (solo); The Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth (solo); The Museum of Fine Arts, Gifu, Japan; ARoS Aarhus Art Museum (solo); Museo Jumex, Mexico; Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art (solo); Bergen Kunsthall (solo); Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall; Kunsthalle Wien; National Gallery of Art, Warsaw; Museo Tamayo, Mexico City; Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm (solo); Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, Moscow; Reykjavík Art Museum, Reykjavík (solo).

Einarsson's work is represented in numerous public collections including MoMA, New York; SFMoMA; Berkeley Art Museum; La Coleccion Jumex, Mexico; Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo; Malmö Art Museum; Rubell Family Collection, Miami; Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach; ARoS Aarhus Art Museum; LACMA; MOCA, Los Angeles; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Nasjonalmuseet, Oslo and Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt.

BACKDROPS FOR GHOSTS

31.08. - 13.10.2018
PREVIEW 30.08.2018 11AM-3PM

Experience a 3D installation view of the exhibition created by ARTLAND - here

Nils Stærk is proud to present the first solo exhibition by the Mexican artist Carlos Amorales. The exhibition Backdrops for ghosts will contain a series of new three-dimensional paintings with silkscreen ink on wooden panels, an installation of maquettes previously used for the artist’s film The Cursed Village shown at the 57th Venice Biennale and site-specific shadow paintings directly on the walls of the gallery space. Amorales’ work is interdisciplinary where the limits and coherence of art and society are explored in relation to language and the individual.

In 2017 Amorales represented Mexico at the Venice Biennale with the project Life in The Folds – a project that created new vocabularies, languages and settings through which life can reinvent itself. Starting out with paper cut-out shapes, Amorales created a series of abstract colorful collages – these abstractions became an illegible alphabet and a series of musical instruments that gave sound to each letter. All aspects were combined in the production of the puppet film The Cursed Village – a film telling the story of an immigrant family, whose destiny ends with being lynched in the foreign town. The maquettes from the film are placed as the central installation in the gallery and allow the viewer to become immersed in a fairytale world, that nevertheless points to urgent political issues. 

Amorales develops compositions and works that range from abstraction to conceptualization before converting into a phonetic language system and three-dimensional forms. In Backdrops for ghosts Amorales pushes visual abstraction into figuration and storytelling where the viewer will be absorbed by both a painting exhibition and a large puppet show. Amorales plays with the classical notions by inverting form and background. The characters in the exhibition are transformed into shadow paintings on the walls, whereas the backgrounds where they normally would be placed to perform, hang forward as a series of large scale painted wood collages. By placing the backdrop in the foreground, the exhibition Backdrops for Ghosts points towards a contemporary world that appears as upside down.

Carlos Amorales lives and works in Mexico City. He is represented in public art collections like; MoMA New York, Guggenheim Museum, TATE London, Museo Tamayo and MUAC, Mexico where he is currently presenting a comprehensive solo until September 19th2018.

 

/ˈpalɪm(p)sɛst/

02.06. - 27.07.2018
OPENING 01.06.2018 5-8PM

Experience a 3D installation view of the exhibition created by ARTLAND - here

Upon entering /ˈpalɪm(p)sɛst/ members of the audience are handed a set of instructions inviting them to change into a custom-designed lightweight robe. Once in this new attire, the visitor is ready to be buried up to the neck in the bath of warm sand that, together with the clay floor and water fountain, composes the large sculptural work at the centre of the gallery. By asking the public to leave their own clothing behind, the artist symbolically marks the transition, as in a rite of passage, from the everyday world, to the ‘separate’ space of the exhibition. Throughout his artistic career, FOS has consistently worked on this idea of the exhibition space becoming ‘another’ space; pointing beyond its physical location and usual function. Similarly, he explores the relational aspect of that space, often creating works that require direct or symbolic engagement from the public. 

When submerged in the sand, the heat and weight of the material distorts the perception of scale and the boundary of one’s own body - a sensation of melting into the sand as the shell of your skin seems to dissolve. Sand is largely composed of silica, the most common mineral found on Earth and the basic element in the fabrication of microchips, a tool that allows today’s accumulation and massive circulation of digital data. Whilst buried, the body is overcome by an enormous quantity of sensorial information; in this case not an intangible overload of data flow but a very physical one, experienced through a primordial material. Silica is also the main component of glass, clay, glaze and mirror, all used extensively in the exhibition. Through the experience of being buried in the sandpit, the artist seems to push members of the audience to lose themselves; to become his materials. To paraphrase a known line, what does it mean to take on the perspective of a grain of sand? 

This question connects to the use of the SAMPA phonetic alphabet in the titling throughout the exhibition in the titling throughout the exhibition. To the untrained eye, phonetically written words can be read as images whose meanings are unveiled only at the moment of vocalisation; the position of the spectator is once again pulled into the physical grain of the object. From the act of reading, to the uttering of the word, our grasp on meaning is slightly deferred and suddenly relocated within the word’s sound. This subtle shaking of our faith in language’s power to denote opens up a small, vertiginous space where sense is momentarily lost and quickly rearranged. 

In the bi-dimensional works of the exhibition, images seem to suffer from their own vertigo: two painted mirrors are presented as a sort of double, pictures of glass tubes couple with their shadows, the uncanny print of a bird has three rhythmically repeating outlines. These vibrations of form, resonating with the deep recurring ring of a glass bell, present the exhibition as a creased unity, where materials and meaning seem to constantly ‘peel off’ from one other, shedding a skin in favour of an ever new one. This layering of traces and possibilities of meaning is, ultimately, a /ˈpalɪm(p)sɛst/. 

 

UNCERTAINTY PRINCIPLE

20.01. - 24.03.2018
PREVIEW 19.01.2018

Nils Stærk is proud to present Dario Escobar’s solo exhibition Uncertainty Principle. The exhibition is Escobar’s second solo presentation in the gallery. On occasion of the exhibition independent curator Isabela Villanueva has written an essay on Escobar’s practice:

“Exploring the unknown requires tolerating uncertainty” 
Brian Greene 

We live in a time where the object is standardized: all over the world we encounter objects analogous except for small local differences- which are everyday diminishing and limited to minimal particulars. Sadly the presence of what is typical of a region, and therefore foreign to the rest of the world, is being erased so we now only come across identical mass-produced objects that could have been produced in China, Brazil or anywhere else. For the last couple of decades, there has been a rapid universalization of the forms of the objects; social practices of consumption, the formation of desire and yearning of belonging are some of the reasons why mass-produced and non-distinguishable objects reign nowadays. 

This “fetishization” of the object is a concern that artists have been reflecting and working on for years: Marcel Duchamp with his Fountain, Andy Warhol with the Brillo box, Jeff Koons with the New Hoover Convertibles and Gabriel Orozco with La DS amongst many other examples. Dario Escobar, one of Central America’s most pivotal artists, continues with this tradition; his oeuvre however goes further than just promoting industrialized objects into works of art, one of his focuses is pondering how mass-production has almost annihilated local artisanry or regionalistic styles in objects, so in his artworks he merges both in an effort to redefine the limits between what is highbrow and what is popular. 

Escobar is deeply knowledgeable about his country’s art historical legacy; he spends much of his time researching and studying archeological treasures from pre-Columbian times, visiting local crafts markets and admiring Baroque buildings and its decorations. The artist tends to travel throughout Guatemala and Mexico in order to revere, chronicle and mentally preserve the presence of what can be perceived as ‘foreign’ in this uniform globalized world we now live in. This is why certain local forms, colours and styles always permeate into his oeuvre; he seeks to preserve several thousands of years of Olmec, Mayan or Teotihuacan, and other pre-hispanic civilizations’ motifs and styles and merge them alongside universalized objects. 

For over two decades Escobar has been producing a steady body of work that challenges the viewer to review mass-produced objects; their traditional uses are overturned so new uses and meanings can arise. At first glance his sculptures may appear to be common everyday, readymade objects; however, closer examination reveals the inclusion of detail-oriented craftsmanship, as well as an exploration of forms, surfaces  and areas. 

Uncertainty Principle is the artist’s second exhibition at Nils Stærk, the title refers to a constant that appears in all artworks presented: a lively and playful investigation on the unpredictable character of forms and lines, and an exploration of how balance can be achieved.  The show features several sculptures made by the Guatemalan artist during the last months of 2017; all of them are made from objects used regularly for leisure activities. The pivotal concerns of Escobar’s work, such as conflating the aesthetics of hand-crafted and labor-intensive objects with those of mass-production, as well as a constant dialogue with certain imposed art historical canons, are keenly expressed in the works exhibited. 

Without a doubt the most imposing sculptures of the show are the ones belonging to the Red Star series: works in which  basketball hoops struggle to find equilibrium.  Red Star # 4 greets audience members as they walk into the gallery; stability is a clear concern and one can perceive the precariousness between the single hoop and the conjoined immense wooden rectangle that is leaning against the corner of the room. 

This contortion and fickleness of forms is a constant throughout the exhibition, it can be seen in wooden slabs where traditional guitar rosettes dance and snake around the surface, and in chessboard patterns that flap and move in and out of framed  wooden squares. Having trained as an architect Escobar is always aware of spacing and of stability; as can be noted in Untitled in which a group of Pepsi bottles are upholding planks, it’s interesting to perceive how the small, delicate and fragile materials (glass bottles) are the ones actually doing the supporting and the heavy lifting. This work also contains a clear commentary on consumerism and how American culture has permeated and is dominating the world.

There are many art historical allusions in the works presented in Uncertainty Principle: the three-dimensional sculptures follow the purified forms of Minimalist sculptures, yet question how Guatemala has become a minion of the United States for modern and contemporary art canons even when Central America has a richer history and have been producing art for the last 7 thousand years. Art as a big chess game is a clear nod to Marcel Duchamp, but by orchestrating movement in the checkered tiles Escobar creates a visual paradox and an endless imaginary trajectory of space. 

All the artworks contain delicate woodwork, as well as elements and references from Guatemala, Mexico and their rich cultural legacy. There are throughout the show many readings or afterthoughts, but formally and aesthetically there is always order, simplicity and harmony. 

Text by Isabela Villanueva

Isabela Villanueva is an art historian and independent curator based in the United States. She worked several years at the Americas Society Art Gallery and was part of the curatorial team of the 30th São Paulo Biennial.