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Overview / Highlights from the collections of Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris

2003-06-01 to 2003-10-26

Bildmuseet is pleased to present a comprehensive exhibition with important works from the collection of Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris. The foundation has one of Europe’s most dynamic and interesting collections of contemporary art, especially since there from the start has been a global view and vision, but also since Fondation Cartier often commission artists to produce substantial new works in conjunction with their exhibition projects. In addition to this an important part of the policy is to work only with living artists.

The collection of Fondation Cartier is also characterised by its diversity and a focus on the non-English speaking part of Europe, as well as Africa, Asia and Latin America. Most of the artists included in the show have never before been exhibited in Scandinavia:

Beaurin Domercq (France)

Vincent Beaurin, born in 1960, and Fabrice Domercq, born in 1965. They live and work in Paris, France.

The artists’ duo Beaurin Domercq consists of Vincent Beaurin and Fabrice Domercq, that have worked together since 1998.

In the Bildmuseet two works are shown, both untitled and from 1999. In one the artists have placed 36 small objects on a podium; all are gaily multi-coloured and look like some humorously mutated toys whose functions are unknown. The other work is vaguely reminiscent of a cross between an Indian dream-catcher and a frayed lamp-shade in natural material adorned with dried orange peel.

The objects are often executed in materials like textiles, plastic or pieces of wood. The artists like to suggest a morphing of meanings and an escape from function, language and categorization. In the works of the duo there is always a split between the precise visual execution and the lack of obvious references.

William Eggleston (USA)

Born in 1937 in Memphis, USA, where he lives and works.

Eggleston is a portal figure of contemporary photography. His career stretches for many years, but his work did not receive attention until the mid-1970’s.

By this time colour photography was still looked on sceptically and was ranked low as a means of artistic expression. Many critics considered Eggleston’s colour snapshots of shopping malls and suburban everyday life banal and artistically deficient in respect to motifs as well as technique.

His 1974 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York became a breakthrough for colour photography and the starting point for a new kind of aesthethic of the mundane. Since then Eggleston’s influence has steadily increased, and his low-key, personal images of his south-eastern US surroundings have become classics.

In 2001 the Fondation Cartier funded a stay in Kyoto for the artist, and the photographs taken there were exhibited in Paris as a continuous series under the title Kyoto Series. These photographs are characterized by a keen perception of the motifs and a well articulated sense of detail, colour and composition.

Eliane Duarte (Brazil)

Born in Rio de Janeiro 1943, Brazil, where she lives and works.

Duarte is a sculptor. Her work Ribalta from 1999 consists of six objects of different colours: violet, gold, green, copper, silver, and blue.

They are plaited, using plastic, wire, textile, and feathers, and hung on the wall beside each other like scalps or balls of thread. Order, chaos and presence are parameters that the artist approaches in a poetical and immediately physical way.

Ribalta is both a narrative and a non-verbal work, characterized by its organic volume and symmetry. In many previous works Duarte has focused on the scar and the wound in different senses, with an imagery that is direct and generous, bordering on the brutal. This work, however, is in a more intimate and abstract key.

Hubert Duprat (France)

Born in 1957 in Nérac, France. Lives in Claret, France.

In his works Duprats often borrows shapes and materials from the plant and animal kingdoms, and combines them with a pseudo-scientific frame.

In earlier works, as a kind of nature’s own ready-mades, he has for example let water-living larvae of dragonflies (genus Trichoptera) produce sculptures for him. The artist has disassembled the tubular shell of the larva and placed the ”nude” creature in an aquarium where there are grains of gold, pearls and chips of precious stones. From this material the larva has then built itself a new shell. The process shows in what way the insect is capable of adjusting to new circumstances and materials, and the strength of its instinctive behaviour, but also poses questions about man’s view of art, about what is manufactured and what is ”naturally” created.

The work A la fois, la racine et le fruit (At the same time, the root and the fruit) from 1997–98 is a sculpture with a peculiar shape, a branch from a tree adorned with small polished tablets of bone in subdued mosaic.

Udomsak Krisanamis (Thailand)

Born in 1966 in Bangkok, Thailand. Lives and works in New York, USA.

In his paintings, Krisamanis takes his departure in language. Since moving from Thailand to the United States in the early 1990’s the artist learnt English primarily by reading newspapers, in which he crossed out all words he understood and used himself. The result was black fields surrounded by isolated words or combinations of words whose meaning stayed dim or unknown.

As his knowledge of the language deepened, the black fields gradually spread and became connected. It is against the backdrop of this experience that Krisanamis has developed his artistic work, in which he on large canvases isolates, covers or exposes words, figures, letters and signs in thick layers of shining dark colour. Understanding turns into a negative imprint, as if certainty would unavoidably also bring doubt, distance and insecurity.

Lately, the artist has stressed the collage aspect of his work and besides newspaper scraps also incorporated noodles, price tags, clothesline, cellophane and glue into his paintings.

Alessandro Mendini (Italy)

Born in 1931 in Milan, Italy, where he lives and works.

Mendini is an architect, an artist and a designer. Apart from his wide-ranging, international artistic achievement he has for many years been active as editor-in-chief at various Italian design and architecture magazines, such as Modo and Domus. With his brother Francesco, he runs the Atelier Mendini of Milan.

Some of Mendini’s latest projects are a memorial monument for the harbour of Hiroshima, the Groninger museum in the Netherlands, and the Arosa Casino in Switzerland. He also works on a smaller scale, with objects, sculpture, furniture, installations, and interiors.

His work Scarpa (1997–2001) consists of an enormous single shoe, covered in glistening golden mosaic, and placed on a podium. The sculpture is characterized by lightness as well as monumental mass, and is a fine example of the extravagant visual one-liners of Mendini’s.

Vik Muniz (Brazil)

Born in 1961 in São Paulo, Brazil. Lives and works in New York, USA.

Muniz started out as a sculptor, but successively became more interested in photographs of his sculptures than in the sculptures themselves. Today he works almost exclusively as a photographer, mainly with the photograph as illusion and construction.

He often plays with our expectations and ability to draw conclusions from what we see. The works in the Equivalents series from 1993–98 seem to depict a clear sky with fluffy cumulus clouds that look like cats, teapots or hands clasped in prayer. Historically, the depiction of clouds has by many artists been held to represent the climax of painterly technique. Muniz makes use of this association, but in reality the motifs are small cotton figures.

In the series Sugar Children (1996–97) Muniz has photographed children on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts, and then re-created the picture using granulated sugar spread out on black paper, and finally taken a photograph of the result. The works may be seen as an homage to these individuals, but also as a reminder of the island’s colonial past and the hard work in the sugar plantations. Besides sugar and cotton Muniz has worked in materials such as dust, chocolate and spaghetti.

J.D. ’Okhai Ojeikere (Nigeria)

Born in 1930 in Ojomo Emai, Nigeria. Lives and works in Lagos, Nigeria.

Ojeikere started his career in 1961 as a still photographer with a Nigerian TV station and opened his own studio, Photo Ojeikere, in 1975. Most African photographers of his generation worked solely towards customers and employers, but Ojeikere from early on pursued his own photographic projects with the aim of mapping the culture of his native country in various ways.

His comprehensive work has developed into a unique documentary, ethnographical and anthropological source. One of his most well known projects is Hair Style, which comprises almost 1 000 black-and-white images. The series was commenced in 1968 and its photographs are systematically taken in everyday surroundings such as in the street, in offices or at parties, but also in his studio under strictly controlled lighting conditions. The sculptural qualities of hair and hairdos are shown distinctly and with consequence, but the series at the same time gives an impression of the ethnic multiplicity of Nigeria – more than 200 peoples with different languages and traditions live in the country. Most of the pictures are taken from behind, though profiles and faces from different angles also occur.

Ojeikere himself states that: ”All these hairstyles are ephemeral. I want my photographs to be noteworthy traces of them. I always wanted to record moments of beauty, moments of knowledge. Art is life. Without art, life would be static”.

Pierrick Sorin (France)

Born in 1960 in Nantes, France, where he lives and works.

Sorin is a video artist and often stages short, dramatic sequences in which he himself acts all the parts. In many cases he plays with language and its arbitrariness. In his work Aki Lost Ero (2001) the artist portrays all three musicians in a band. The imaginary constellation performs a song in a made-up, nonsense language.

Most of Sorin’s pieces are recorded in a studio in his home in Nantes, which gives them a cramped and at the same time expansive character, a kind of deliberate but very real low-budget atmosphere. Sometimes grotesquely funny, sometimes in a slapstick mood, but always with a humorous and precise sympathy for his fellow beings, Sorin depicts the failures of the individual and the absurdity of existence. Empathy is always close at hand, as are fierce irony and total despair.

Beat Streuli (Switzerland)

Born in 1957 in Switzerland. Lives and works in Düsseldorf, Germany.

In his photographic work, Streuli has mainly shown an interest in man in urban space, especially in the individual as a variable in the anonymous and complex flow of the global metropolis.

He often uses a telephoto lens to come close to the persons depicted without them being aware of the presence of the photographer. The work ”Alice to Uluru, January ’00” (2000), which was made especially for the Fondation Cartier, can be claimed to represent a new direction. Even though certain basic themes such as movement and transfer still mark the general impression of the work, Streuli has assumed a more active position in this documentation of a journey between the cities of Alice and Uluru in Australia.

The suggestive installation contains a total of 230 slides that are projected simultaneously from three projectors onto two walls. It has a quality of field-work, of mapping, while the occupation with territory and the individual brings earlier works of Streuli’s to mind. In this work, though, he has chosen to work in a more cinematic way in realization as well as in installing the piece.

Adriana Varejão (Brazil)

Born in 1964 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she lives and works.

With their massive presence and weight, Varejão’s paintings border on sculpture. The fundamental chords of her artistic work range from the deeply private and personal to the historically universal, from reflections on the body and the blood to critical examinations of archaeology and race, colonial history and cannibalistic legends of sacrifice.

The work Azul Branca em Carne Viva (Blue, White, and Living Flesh, 2002) depicts a torn and cracked section of a wall. It also contains a mixture of the two surfaces the artist most often makes use of: tile and flesh.

Previously, Varejão has been deeply involved with the complex cultural history of Brazil, its mixture of native population and colonizers, the history of Portugal and colonial traces of Africa and Asia. But in this work the complicated, heavily ornamented mosaic has been replaced with tiles from a slaughter-house, made to withstand stains and to be easily cleansed with water. The cool wall surface splits in an open wound, in furious bloody splendour.

Bill Viola (USA)

Born in 1951 in the United States. Lives and works in Los Angeles, USA.

Viola is a pioneer in international video art. He has been active since the early 1970’s and has created a large number of works of various expressions and technical realization; from videotapes and soundscapes to architecturally oriented installations, performances accompanied by electro music, and works created specifically for television.

Viola’s interests center on the perception and consciousness of man, the way in which our experiences are engendered and how the mechanisms of our perception and interpretation of our surroundings work and what they look like. Besides the visual aspect, sound is an important element to Viola.

Apart from that, many of his works uses his own self and body as a starting point, and the artist himself figures prominently in his works, e.g. the video installation Nine Attempts to Achieve Immortality from 1996. The video is projected from behind onto a screen hanging from the ceiling, and shows the artist in deep concentration, holding his breath until he is about to die from asphyxiation. When he at last breathes out, the sound and reaction comes close to a shock. The work is an excellent example of the precision and apparent simplicity that characterize the works of Viola.

Leslie Wayne (USA)

Born in 1953 in Germany. Lives and works in New York, USA.

Wayne is an abstract painter. Her paintings are executed in oil on wood; she paints thick layers of paint in various colours and then scrapes away the layers, sometimes carefully as if folding back a bedspread, sometimes so violently that the surface is torn and ripped to shreds.

The works are of small sizes, often between 25 and 40 centimetres, and may be experienced as both monumental and intimate, with their physical weight and strong sense of colour and material. The contradiction between what is hidden in the painting and what is sculpturally revealed creates a tension.

The artist explains the background to her sensitive and brutal expressions in this way: ”As an abstract painter I have focused on condensing the expansive arena of heroic painting into a tiny format, forcing a shift between size and scale, as if the world were on a thimble.”

This applies to works such as Comin’ and Goin’ (1998), Out on a Limb (1998), Jitterburg (1999), Colorfall (2000), and Breaking and Entering: Hasty Retreat (2001).

 

The exhibition has been put together in close collaboration with Hervé Chandès, the director of Fondation Cartier, and will comprise of exciting and significant works from the 1980s till present; paintings, sculptures, photographs, installations and film/video works.

Fondation Cartier was founded in 1984 and is located in Paris, in a space designed by French architect Jean Nouvel. The foundation has a strong international presence with a number of projects both in and outside France. The collection comprises of around 900 works by some 260 artists.

Thanks to The French Embassy, Stockholm.