Zürcher Gallery is thrilled to present Stages, a Group Show curated by Matt Bollinger at Zürcher Gallery, NY.
Artists : Taylor Baldwin, Matt Bollinger, Angela Dufresne, Rachel Frank, Meena Hasan, Amanda Lechner, Sangram Majumdar, Katharina Ziemke.
Last summer I traveled to Paris for an exhibition. My wife and her family came along and took us all to the Opera National de Paris at the Palais Garnier for a performance of Gluck’s Alceste directed by Olivier Py.(1) When we took our seats, I was surprised to see an immense drawing in chalk depicting the exterior of the Palais Garnier that stretched the height and width of the stage. Py’s frequent collaborator, Pierre-André Weitz, created the moveable sets out of flat, blackboard-like surfaces, which artists covered with drawings that they then erased and changed all while the performers acted and sang. The way these staging elements and theater technicians emerged from behind the curtain and simultaneously brought the facade of the opera house indoors, created a double narrative with the 18th century story.
When back in Brooklyn and while still thinking about those parallel narratives, I visited Rachel Frank’s studio where I saw two or three of her large animal masks stored on shelves. She created these as part of her on-going Rewilding Project, but seeing the masks in storage, they took on a potential energy suggestive of other narratives and contexts. They bring to mind species once far-ranging, hunted to near-extinction, conflicts between colonial power and indigenous peoples (as Rachel points out in a statement about the project)(2), and mythic human animal hybrids reminiscent of Goya’s prints and Greek myth. While inert, they double narratively as a vehicle for impromptu performance and finely wrought sculpture.
Angela Dufresne’s drawings offer a parallel universe to that of her paintings. Whereas her paintings give in-the-flesh views of her grand dames, beast-women, hornball heroes, ass-kickers, boot-lickers, and pissers, her small-scale drawings open expansive spaces where the many facets of her drama can play out at once. Movie theaters, Roman arches, and construction sites all serve as settings and each modifies her cast of characters’ behavior (or misbehavior). In the paintings the figures have the sculptural presence of a tableau vivant staged moments after the action has happened. When Dufresne draws, she captures the events as they occur. In one untitled drawing, Prince looks out from a movie screen, while the audience of revelers, including a multi-teated woman, several transgender individuals, and Nebuchadnezzar in beast form, all cavort. In another Gena Rowlands appears on the big screen in a crowded opera house/theater. If Rowlands in A Woman Under the Influence is Dufresne’s muse—a woman struggling to shake off patriarchy’s brutal, limiting definitions—then the theater is her ideal setting. Theatrics (and the immediacy of drawing) gives Dufresne the chance to test and break boundaries. Her theaters also bring together difference: performer and spectator; female and male; human and animal; and good and bad taste.
In recent years Katharina Ziemke has begun collaborating with theatrical productions, designing set elements and painting backdrops, but her work has always contained her distinct form of introverted drama. Often working from old photos and film stills, she creates scenes that have a flash-photo-meets-magic-lantern lighting. In her scratched wax drawing, Nocturnal Gathering, she depicts a campground setting that implies narrative possibilities. What could easily be a pastoral image of a weekend outing, takes on sinister implications because of Ziemke’s method of first applying bright colors and then covering them over with black wax. By scratching back through the wax she peels away the shadow to reveal the formerly hidden light. Just the same, the weight of the black wax gives the kaleidoscopic color a distant character like hearing the sounds of a good time echoing through the woods at night.
Meena Hasan’s paintings adopt unusual points of view that draw attention to the first person. In Walking in the Snow, I am outside on a winter day, wrapped in layers and so blasted by snow that I can only look at the ground in front of me, one step at a time. The dramatic doubling that occurs with this painting implicates me: when I see out of the eyes of another in this way, I am them, however briefly. At the same time, the twist of garments and hair that fill the margins of this image take me out of the body and suggest a night sky. The winter coat, patterned with snow, expands into a deep blue night. While the island of snowy ground presses forward, this cosmos expands outward beyond the constraints of the frame.
Similarly in the compact frame of her tempera paintings, Amanda Lechner portrays the authority of scientific “truth” as suspect. Inflected with sci-fi conspiracies and pseudo science, she paints narratives where the boundaries blur. Her combination of quantum physics and speculative fiction suggests that the unifying force in both is the imagination. At first glance RadioSurgeryGammaKnife seems to be a science fiction picture showing a bald man engaged in some cosmic contemplation or astral projection. After Googling the title, I learned that Radiosurgery performed with the Gamma Knife is a kind of brain surgery for patients with brain tumors during which many relatively harmless beams of radiation are shot into the brain, converging on a single point where their additive force can serve to diminish or even eliminate the tumor(3). Lechner’s use of saturated and unnatural colors as well as her active, crisscrossing brushwork suggests her fascination with the new tools, technologies, and discoveries in science all while imagining future possibilities both thrilling and terrifying.
Taylor Baldwin’s work, motherfucker/redeemer, evokes complicated material histories where nothing is innocent. In the past his sculptures’ encyclopedic material lists have led him to publish booklets to allow for the elaborate backstory of how he researched, collected, bartered, stole, or found the materials. motherfucker/redeemer features two chainsaws, an actual McCulloch 3-25 overgrown with handmade cacti and a one-to-one replica made from corrugated cardboard. As the first one-person chainsaw, the 3-25 symbolizes American autonomy while suggesting bleaker narratives of deforestation and waste. In the sculpture, the real saw (a substrate for desert plants) is counter-balanced against a rough-hewn log, which in turn crushes the 3-25’s replica (oozing wood glue). Beneath, encased in concrete, Baldwin has compressed all of the sculpture’s scraps and leftovers into what looks like a geological cross-section—the “soil” for the sculpture, but also a monumental tomb.
Sangram Majumdar has a dollhouse. He has plants cut from paper. The dollhouse, half disassembled and put back together haphazardly, acts as his stage; the paper cut-outs are his set-pieces. The oil paintings he makes from this set are both perceptually vivid and slippery to name. A form will evoke or resemble without being or without being exclusively. In Starburst, leaf forms spiral from a central hub while looking like a pattern on a textile. In the painting’s negative spaces, Majumdar creates an expansive atmosphere where neon lights wink on and off (evoking the way light moves along my car’s window at night). By hinting that the sources for his paintings are constructions, he performs the making of the painting: this flat plane torques back from the surface of the painting where it applies pressure on another color-shape. In doing so that second form opens up into that urban sky, alight with fireworks.
Like the other works in the show, I wanted my painting, Work in Progress, to have several possible lives. I created it both as a stand-alone painting and as a backdrop for Rachel Frank’s masks. As in Py’s staging of the Gluck opera, I see my “backdrop” as a moveable setting that benefits from its proximity to Frank’s sculptures. Where the staging of Alceste brought together myth and the real-world-setting of the Palais Garnier, our works combine the idea of the historical landscape with an image suggesting the present day urban environment in Brooklyn—a terrain contested by conflicting view points and material realities. Together our pieces stage a new narrative that teases out different experiential implications than they do alone. The works in this exhibition combine from their original contexts in a moveable experience; each performs individually, but also joins in chorus with the other works in the show. The ensemble cast questions how narratives, fictional and non-fictional, are staged, and examines how the construction of these stories, rather than splintering the viewer’s capacity to suspend his or her disbelief, in fact draw together pluralistic narratives otherwise hidden behind theatrics.
1. Gluck, Christoph Willibald. Alceste. Opera National de Paris. Directed by Olivier Py. Sets and costumes by Pierre-André Weitz, 2015.
2. Frank, Rachel. “Rewilding Projects.” <http://www.rachelfrank.com/Rewildin...> web. 14 June 2016.
3. “Brain stereostatic radiosurgery.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, March 25, 2015 Web. 16 June 2016.
- Taylor Baldwin, Motherfucker/Redeemer, 2014
In my recent studio practice, I’ve been seeking to conflate the act of making with an act of violence - or unmaking - whether enacted physically or cognitively, whether enacted on an object, an image, or an idea. In my practice as a whole, I use sculpture, video, and installation as a tool to stitch together and/or confuse the discordant relationship between a physical object and the cognitive experience of it.
The work seeks to simultaneously create unified wholes out of disparate fragments, and unmake wholes into particulate fractions. This is partially embodied through objects whose coherence is in flux, made of discreet fragments that - though static - simultaneously cohere into legibility and disintegrate into particulate fractions. Mysticism and intuition are active processes, and within the work, I collect and use materials with site-specific history, deeply researched, to become objects that embody a dissonance between their physical, psychological, and historical present context. Through these practices, I pursue objects, image, or ideas that sit on the edge of making and unmaking, barely clinging to coherence.
Taylor Baldwin (b. Tucson, AZ 1983) is an artist working primarily in sculpture, video, and installation. He received a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design in 2005 and an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2007.
He has been a resident at the Fine Arts Work Center, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, the Seven Below Arts Initiative, and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Baldwin has exhibited his work Conner Contemporary Gallery (Washington D.C.) , Land of Tomorrow Gallery (Louisville, KY), and Vox Populi (Philadelphia, PA) as well as in groups shows at the Queens Museum of Art (NY), Tucson Museum of Contemporary Art (Tucson, AZ), the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (Norfolk, VA), the Kentucky Museum of Arts and Craft (Louisville, KY) and P.P.O.W. Gallery (New York, NY). He is currently based in Queens, New York and Providence, Rhode Island.
- Matt Bollinger, Back Drop, Detail, 2016
Matt Bollinger was born in 1980 in Kansas City, MO. He lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
He received his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute in 2003 and his MFA in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2007.
- Angela Dufresne, Untitled, 2016
Angela Dufresne’s paintings exuberantly weave imagery, narrative, paint, and visceral pleasure. She refers to the work as examples of non-paranoid, porous ways of being in the world. Delivered with absurdity, affection and feminist vibrato, Dufresne presents figurative articulations that feverously emerge out of the paint. Humorous, giddy, vulnerable, non-heroic, perverse, her figures revel in their destabilized relationship to their environments.
Her subjects are nether man nor nature, form or formless, but allow for both to coexist in their lack of selfhood and their openness to absorb, fuse with, metabolize the world around them. In cinematic dissolves they conjure up the centrality, the ontology of humanity, as challenged. Deft in techniques of revision, erasure, overlay and addition, Dufresne deploys empathy and humor with equal parts skill and sensitivity in a commitment to painting’s ability to present, transgress and reconfigure experience and representation.
Angela Dufresne is a painter originally from Connecticut, raised however in the town Kansas (Olathe-Suburbs) that Dick and Perry stopped in before they killed the Clutters (In Cold Blood), and is now based in Brooklyn. She received the first college degree in her lineage. Her work articulates non-paranoid, porous ways of being in a world fraught by fear and possession. Through painting, drawing and performative works, she wields heterotopic narratives that are both non hierarchical and perverse. She has exhibited at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in New York, The National Academy of Arts and Letters in NY, The Kemper Museum in Kansas City, Brooklyn Academy of Music in NY, The Aldridge Museum in CT, Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers, NY, the Rose Museum in Waltham, MA, Mills College in Oakland, CA, Minneapolis School of Art and Design. She is currently Assistant Professor of painting at RISD. The awards and honors Angela include 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship, residency at Yaddo, a Purchase Award at The National Academy of Arts and Letters, two fellowships at The Fine Arts Work Center at Provincetown, The Center for the Arts in Sausalito, CA and a Jerome Foundation Fellowship. She recently had a show at Steve Harvey projects of videos and drawings.
- Rachel Frank, American Bison (III), 2015
My work uses sculpture, theater, and performance to explore the tensions between the natural world and the manmade, the animal and the political, and the past and the present. Themes of environmentalism and social justice are examined through narratives focused on memory, imagined landscapes, and loss. Often in my work, I think of memory as passages in time where emblems of the lost eras (bison, mammoth, ruins) can be reflected on in conjunction with current political or environmental concerns. Political narratives and collective memory are treated theatrically using sculptural masks and tableaux vivants.
Over the last several years, I have been engaged with projects that concentrate specifically on man’s relationship with the environment. Though performance and sculpture, I have been exploring rewilding, an environmental practice that seeks to reestablish the landscape’s former ecosystems and increase sustainability by reintroducing species to areas where they had formerly thrived but have since gone extinct. As part of my on-going Rewilding project, I decided to concentrate on the American Bison as a very recognizable North American animal species that both has a profound impact on the ecosystem and has been extinct from large areas of the country where it once thrived. I sculpted several bison head masks out of cloth and other materials, which when worn become emblems for rewilding. Actors perform a series of tableau vivants in site-specific landscapes to reintroduce bison into these environmentally significant areas. The performances are part of a larger project, which uses the concept of rewilding to explore how we think about the landscape around us—its past, present, and sustainability into the
Born and raised in Kentucky, Rachel Frank received her MFA from the University of Pennsylvania. Her work uses sculpture, theater, and performance to explore the tensions between the natural world and the manmade, the animal and the political, and the past and the present. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including grants from The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, The Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation, The Puffin Foundation, and The Franklin Furnace Archive.
She has attended residencies at Yaddo, The Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation, Sculpture Space, The Women’s Studio Workshop, and The Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Her performance pieces have been shown at HERE, Socrates Sculpture Park, The Select Fair, and the Bushwick Starr in New York City and The Marran Theater at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She has an upcoming residency in the Innoko National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and is currently based in Brooklyn, New York.
- Meena Hassan, Nape (Anjali at studio), 2015
My work studies figuration by fragmenting the subject and playing with perspective and gaze. Informed by the history of figuration, I am searching for ways to depict the figure in order to embrace complex individualism, self-aware vulnerability and intimacy.
My work centers itself around the human, particularly the female figure of color, and asks the viewer to slow down to recognize beauty and individuality.
My materials include birch panels, cardboard, Japanese papers, handmade Indian papers and plastics like Mylar and Tyvek. I transform these textures by layering acrylic paint, pattern and color until the surface achieves a physicality that reflects our exterior world as well as the body. I hope for the three-dimensionality of my paintings to be so literally present, in both perspective and materiality, that the viewer’s deconstruction of their process becomes an individual experience, an imagination of their own body within another’s.
Meena Hasan is a visual artist born in 1987 and raised in New York City. She received her B.A. in Studio Art from Oberlin College in 2009 and has exhibited in Ohio, New York City, Rhode Island, Rome, Shanghai, New Haven, CT, Iran and the Netherlands. In 2010, she completed the Terna Prize Affiliated Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome. Meena graduated from Yale School of Art’s Class of 2013 with an MFA in Painting and Printmaking and the Carol Schlosberg Memorial Prize for Painting. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
- Amanda Lechner, Kepler 452b, 2015
In the past year the European Space Agency landed the Rosetta/Philae spacecraft on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, Homo naledi was added to the human species’ family tree, evidence suggesting water once flowed over Mars was discovered and four new elements were added to the periodic table! Current events seem like the futurism or dystopia of past generations.
Through my work I envision moments of experimentation and discovery. My current drawings and egg tempera paintings embody the quest for narrative alternatives. The history of science informs the content of my recent work. The beginning of scientific discovery is inexorably linked to artistic practices through materials, tools and procedures. My painting practice using egg-tempera is a rigorous process that relates to the birth of scientific inquiry. Egg-tempera is a paint that is mixed each day from ground pigment and egg albumen based on historical recipes. My studio, a strewn-field of multi-colored powders, nature specimens, solutions and implements, often looks a bit like an alchemist’s laboratory. These connections are integral in my work and to the future of our culture as a whole.
Discovering, analyzing and understanding phenomena are practices that artists and scientists share, but differ in approach. The profoundly strange and wonderful ideas offered by quantum physics, alchemy and science-fiction find a visual adaptation in my work. Story-telling, pseudo-sciences and super-natural investigations are also very intriguing as wellsprings for narrative potential. The depictions in my paintings mix the factual and observed with the invented and personal.
This project is about curiosity; the area where art illuminates ideas and blurs the boundaries between science, philosophy, and human experience. What leeds seekers to make their discoveries? What were they doing when they had their “eureka” moment? How do they view the future? I am not interested in producing illustration. My aim is to be informed and inspired by my subject matter towards imagery that is rooted in narrative yet open to interpretation.
Through a combination of visual and narrative experiments I explore the nature of reality, history, gender and personal experience and hope to create images that are at once captivating and anomalous.
Amanda Lechner is a visual artist based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA.
Amanda Lechner’s studio practice primarily revolves around drawing and painting. Her current egg tempera paintings, images that are at once captivating and anomalous embody a quest for narrative alternatives. Lechner’s work has been exhibited throughout the United States.
Lechner studied painting at the Kansas City Art Institute where she was awarded a BFA with Honors in 2003 and at the Rhode Island School of Design where she received her MFA in 2005. Upon completing her education, she moved to Brooklyn, NY and has divided her time between Santa fe, New York and Iowa City since 2014. She has been a lecturer at SUNY Purchase College - School of Art + Design and a Visiting Assistant Professor of Painting and Drawing at the the University of Iowa.
As a current NASA - JPL Solar System Ambassador Volunteer Lechner is creating programming that bridges Art and Science to raise awareness about our Solar System.
- Sangram Majumdar, Starburst, 2015, 84 x 70 in, oil on linen
My recent paintings are outcomes of crossbreeding traditional genres in painting – that of still life, landscape and the figure. I work from staged dioramas including scale model furniture, digitally altered paper cutouts and sketchbook doodles and am excited when the opposing logics in each working method filter into the work, playing off of each other’s set of boundaries. I find equal inspiration in the spectacle of Hindu festivals, the prosaic qualities of domestic interiors, and the schematic structures underlying Pre-Renaissance frescoes and Indian miniatures.
The plant imagery in the two larger works is tied to a few different threads. They embody human characteristics but can easily turn inanimate, and as a form they are perfectly situated between a volume and a silhouette. And finally, it’s a way to take the elements that have historically been seen purely as decorative or in the background and position them front and center. The two smaller works are ’discovered’ figures. ’Apparition’ is based off a drawing from life. ’One eyed’ is based off an earlier work in which the figurative qualities were less prominent.
Born in Kolkata, India, Majumdar has an MFA from Indiana University and a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. Recent solo exhibitions include Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects, NY; Rothschild Fine Art, Tel Aviv, Israel; the Jerusalem Studio School, Israel, and the Kresge Art Museum, MI. Recent selected group exhibition venues include James Cohan Gallery, NY; Katzen Arts Center, American University, DC ; Salon Zürcher, Paris, France; Tracey WIlliams Ltd, NY; the 2010 Invitational Exhibition of Visual Arts, American Academy of Arts and Letters, NY and the US Embassy, Sierra Leone. His awards include a MacDowell Fellowship, a residency at Yaddo, the 2009-10 Marie Walsh Sharpe Studio Space Program Grant, a MICA Trustees Award for Excellence in Teaching, two Maryland State Art Council Individual Grants in Painting, and two Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grants.
- Katharina Ziemke, Nocturnal Gathering, 2014
Painting undeniably has a duration. The time of its contemplation, for example, and then there is the instantaneousness in a movement frozen forever on the canvas. The before and after are hidden from us. We are confronted with this moment and the timelessness it contains. We are in Time (and obviously, too, in space). We move in front of the canvas, but what the painting shows us is outside time. These two different modes sometimes make it difficult for some viewers to appreciate the painting. Listening to a piece of music feels more natural. What you are alluding to, a painting performance, would represent the time of its making. The execution of the painting is a phase when it is in gestation. Usually, this making is a very personal and private matter. The artist doesn’t yet know the work that is emerging. It’s a fragile process which constantly verges on failure. If you imagine a spectator watching the production, you are either in documentary or in choreography, which implies knowing to some extent the final form of the work. Honestly, I really don’t know. It would be an interesting experience, but before I come to that I’m going to try sculpture.
Katharina Ziemke was born in 1979 in Kiel. She lives and works in Berlin.
Recent solo exhibitions include : 2016 Solo Show, Drawing Now (Art Fair), Paris / 2015 Sweet Ghosts of Doubt, Zürcher Gallery, Paris / 2013 Katharina Ziemke & Damien Cadio, Andreas Grimm, Munich / 2012 It Takes A Million Years to become Diamonds So Let’s Just Burn Until The Sky’s Black, with Damien Cadio, Manzoni Schäper Gallery, Berlin / 2011 Chains, Chains, Chains, Zürcher Gallery, Paris / 2010 Nerfs, Two Part-Video installation in association with D. Cadio, Heroes, Berlin / 2009 The Thicket, Zürcher Studio, New York.