Six exhibitions: Thomas Bayrle, Stephane Dafflon, Nina Childress, Denis Castellas, Maria Nordman and Deimantas Narkevicius
Monographic Shows: Thomas Bayrle Their Combination is Spectacular Denis Castellas
The Trouble with Bubbles Nina Childress Détail et Destin Stéphane Dafflon Turnaround Deimantas Narkevicius
Deux sur trois Maria Nordman Untitled, 1989 – ...
This 23 June Mamco will inaugurate a new sequence of six shows entitled Le Principe d’incertitude* (The Uncertainty Principle). The museum will be focusing quite a lot of attention on painting in this case, with Thomas Bayrle, Stéphane Dafflon, Nina Childress and Denis Castellas. It will also be featuring both an installation by Maria Nordman and the second part of its retrospective devoted to Deimantas Narkevicius.
A major event in this upcoming program is the first Swiss retrospective devoted to Thomas Bayrle (Frankfurt, 1937). This German artist began his career in the mid-1960s with pieces that revealed pop and op art influences. Prior to that, Bayrle had worked in a weaving mill. It was a fundamental experience that left him fascinated with the combinatory structures of fabrics. Later he was to transpose this structural model to the images he puts together through repetition and assemblage while working from a motif in a smaller format.
Their Combination is Spectacular features 200 pieces classified by thematic affinities and spanning the whole of the artist’s career, from the 1960s to the present. Paintings, silkscreen prints, drawings, collages, objects, films — Bayrle uses all types of supports in elaborating a multifaceted body of work that plays on graphic effects and optical games. In his works the artist repeats a multitude of motifs (characters, telephones, buildings, cameras), logos or lines to compose portraits of both anonymous and famous figures, images of manufactured objects or architectural landscapes. Following this same principle, Bayrle fashions sculptures from great tangles of cardboard strips, suggesting a complex network of highways. Based on the principle of the Moebius strip, the sculptures are a metaphor of a society going in circles. This critical view of the modern world lies at the heart of Bayrle’s work, which questions individuals’ relationship to their environment in an industrialized, highly technicized society.
Stéphane Dafflon (Neyruz, 1972) shares Thomas Bayrle’s interest in visual effects and industrial production methods. A graduate of ECAL, this Lausanne artist belongs to French-speaking Switzerland’s new generation of neo-geo practitioners who, in the wake of John M Armleder, Olivier Mosset or later Francis Baudevin, appropriate and twist the historic forms of abstraction in a playful, uninhibited spirit. Without denying his deep attachment to painting, Dafflon borrows his formal vocabulary from design, with a predilection for the aesthetic world of the 1970s. He produces abstract, geometrical, colorful elementary images that are offered to the viewer in all their visual immediacy. In his works — wall or canvas paintings, objects or environments — the artist is especially interested in the optical play between forms. Each of his shows invites visitors to partake in an aesthetic and visual experience.
Featured for the first time in 2002 at Mamco, where he created a very large scale wall painting (Wall walk), Dafflon is invited this summer to take over all seven of the fourth floor’s galleries. Paying particular attention to the dialogue between works, the artist will reimagine each space as a specific environment for which he will produce nearly the totality of the featured pieces on site, be it wall paintings, canvases, sculptures or installations. Balancing the geometric pop of Stéphane Dafflon on the fourth floor, the first floor of the museum will offer the humorous and nostalgic figurative pop of Nina Childress (Pasadena, 1961). Mamco is pleased to mount the first major exhibition in Switzerland of this Franco-American artist. Détail et destin (Detail and Destiny) brings together some fifty pieces dating from the 1990s to the present. Among her recent works, the artist will be showing a series of pictures based on the theme of the opera (Scala, 2008), as well as an installation — that includes paintings and objects — in homage to Simone de Beauvoir, a major figure in literature and feminism. Nina Childress first made a name for herself as a member of the collective Les Frères Ripoulin (1984-88) alongside Pierre Huyghe and Claude Closky. In the 1990s she began working in series with surprisingly banal motifs (Tupperware, sweets, soaps and heads of hair), then developed more narrative ones, like the series she has done on the opera. For her subjects she draws on existing images found in magazines, newspapers or vintage home decoration reviews. From one canvas to the next, she switches things around, shifting from blurred or out-of-focus effects à la Gerhard Richter to hyperrealism, with a detour or two into bad painting. Childress’s work fashions a mise en abyme in the art of painting and focuses on the question of its status, as her stylistic games or her fondness for the motif of the "painting within a painting" makes clear.
Denis Castellas (Marseille,1951) embodies an entirely different approach to figurative painting. The work of this artist from Nice first took shape around drawing and turning out objects characterized by the fragility of their materials and the obliteration of their motifs. Since the late 1980s, the artist has devoted himself exclusively to painting. The Trouble with Bubbles (a reference to a short story by Philip K. Dick) brings together a dozen of his recent canvases, which come back to the grand genre of portrait painting for a new look. Castellas paints his heroes, characters who have been crushed by life as well as figures from literature (Shakespeare, Kierkegaard) or the world of entertainment. Castellas always starts with an existing image, which is then scrambled, obliterated or left in an incomplete state. His painting asserts itself as an art of dissolution and allusion.
Maria Nordman (1943, Görlitz, Germany) is an historic figure in conceptual art. Her field of activity is neither the museum nor the art gallery, but the city itself. Her pieces can take the form of sculptures, drawings and installations, which, in harmony with the natural elements and their environment, are worked into the urban fabric in which individuals live and move. The pieces offer these individuals spaces that are meant to be lived in, used and reappropriated. Nordman is presenting at Mamco a work that is both sculpture and habitat. Untitled, 1989-... recreates a lifesize version of the traditional Japanese teahouse. The house is exhibited in two versions, according to whether the inside or the outside is being featured: for the interior, it is dismantled, as it was long displayed at Mamco in the past, with its windows, wall sections, wood panels and furniture strewn throughout the museum’s four floor like so many individual pieces of sculpture; and for the tearoom’s exterior, mounted, forming a structure on a human scale. Nordman has done several similar constructions, the first of which, dating from 1990, was installed in Central Park for twelve days. Ms. Nordman has also chosen to present in Geneva Voice Works, her oldest piece designed for public space. Finally, along with these five shows, Mamco will be starting in on the second part of its retrospective devoted to the films of Deimantas Narkevicius (1964, Utena, Lithuania). For several years this Lithuanian artist has been developing a body of work in film and video that largely refers to the history of his country, specifically the transitional period from a Soviet society to a democratic one. Yet Narkevicius’s treatment of the subject departs from documentary filmmaking. His films question the mechanisms of history based on various ideologies and utopias. History is perceived rather as an instrument in the production of myths, and from a point of view that is both distant and altogether subjective, he observes events that figure in collective memory.
[*Le Principe d’incertitude (The Uncertainty Principle) is the first sequence of Futur antérieur (Future Perfect), a new exhibition cycle that breaks down into three annual sequences (summer, autumn and spring) over a period of roughly two years. In the museum context, the title conjures up the questions of temporality facing any institution of contemporary art that is counting on the future to see the current art it is showing make it into history one day. The title of the first sequence of summer shows, The Uncer- tainty Principle, also alludes to this "fate of uncertainty," this absence of the truth of art, which is more characteristic of the contemporary art museum than any other museum.]
Press office, Clarisse Jaouen, firstname.lastname@example.org, +41 22 3206122.
Opening June 23 h 6 p.m.
Mamco, Museum of modern and contemporary art, Geneva
10, rue des Vieux-Grenadiers - CH-1205 Geneva
The museum is open Tuesday to Friday from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6p.m.
The show Principe d’incertitude will be closed on Saturday 1 August and Thursday 10 September.
General admission : CHF 8.- / Reduced admission: CHF 6.- / Group admission: CHF 4.-