Tears welling up inside. Isaacs has made a name for himself mainly as a sculptor of fanciful, yet realistic wax sculptures that, with their drastic qualities, investigate established conventions for presenting the human body and also explore links to other elements of art history - such as minimal art or the opulent imagery of the baroque period - in a playful, ironic manner. Alongside his work with sculptures and objects, Isaacs is also at home in other media such as painting, photography, and video and installation art.
The Wendt + Friedmann Galerie is pleased to be able to announce the upcoming exhibition TEARS WELLING UP INSIDE by the British artist John Isaacs (born in 1968 in Lancaster) in its new gallery space. This is our first solo project with John Isaacs, who has been living in Berlin since 2005 and whose work has already been shown by the Wendt + Friedmann Galerie in 2008 as part of the EVERYBODY KNOWS THIS IS NOWHERE group exhibition.
John Isaacs has made a name for himself mainly as a sculptor of fanciful, yet realistic wax sculptures that, with their drastic qualities, investigate established conventions for presenting the human body and also explore links to other elements of art history – such as minimal art or the opulent imagery of the baroque period – in a playful, ironic manner. Alongside his work with sculptures and objects, John Isaacs is also at home in other media such as painting, photography, and video and installation art. Taking an overview of the last 15 years of his career, it is difficult to categorise his output. He has returned again and again to enigmatic motifs of violence and death, in the manner of ‘momento mori’ pieces. Supported by the many references made in the titles of his works, these motifs can be interpreted as sublime, poetic reflections on the absurdity of our existence. In this works, one can detect both a well-read, historically informed intellect and also a dark, romantic humour where apparently distant, unrelated concepts combine to form latently eerie, multi-perspective imagery. John Isaacs creates artefacts with a deeper, emotional truth that enables us to look beyond the surface of objects and reveals suppressed regions of our modern consciousness.
The TEARS WELLING UP INSIDE exhibition concentrates on three new sculptures by John Isaacs, which are supplemented by additional, thematically related works hung on the walls of the gallery. The dramatic sequence laid out in the gallery space first presents the audience with a monstrous mix of a unicorn and a shark fin, with protruding innards that grab the observer’s attention and a chimerical character that is underlined by the various materials and degrees of sculptural treatment: ciphers of an infinite authority trapped within the abyss of negative utopias. This is followed by a sedan-like vehicle with differently sized wheels and a trailer hitch – in search of someone to lead, in search of someone to follow – which is accompanied by the graphical neon piece let the golden age begin attached to the wall. A glass display cabinet containing a scalp made from wax with long blond hair is positioned at the end of the exhibition sequence, which was conceived with a narrative based around ideas of absence.
The fictitious ambivalence of this piece can already be detected in its title: it is for you that I do this (hippy scalp). It irritates not only with its museum-like presentation as a type of bourgeois trophy, but also as a document of the paradoxical meeting of different eras. A hippy, who is a representative of the peaceful counterculture of the 1960s, appears to have been the victim of the gory ritual that immigrants also suffered in the 18th and 19th centuries on the continually shifting western border of the United States during the expansion period. These associations are essentially incompatible, but this mysterious work still retains the necessary remnant of plausibility that allows the observer to be able to complete the disturbing, grotesque narrative.
John Isaacs has taken part in a large number of exhibition projects worldwide. A brief selection of these includes: Spectacular Bodies, Hayward Gallery London, 2000; Disasters of War, Kunst-Werke Berlin, 2000; Minimal Maximal, Museum of Modern Art Kyoto, 2001; Mike Kelly’s The Uncanny, Tate Liverpool, 2004; Les Grands Spectacles, Museum der Moderne Salzburg, 2005; In the Darkest Hour There May Be Light, Serpentine Gallery London, 2006; Rockers Island, Museum Folkwang Essen, 2007; Paul Thek, ZKM Karlsruhe und Sammlung Falkenberg Hamburg, 2008; Go for it!, Neues Museum für Kunst Bremen, 2008; Dream Time, Museum of Modern Art Toulouse, 2009 und Mythologies, Haunch of Venison London, 2009. In 2010, John Isaacs will be participating in exhibitions in the Tate Modern in London and the Von-der-Heydt-Museum in Wuppertal. In addition, solo exhibitions in the Travesia Cuatro gallery in Madrid and the OPA gallery in Guadalajara are also planned.
John Isaacs lives and works in Berlin.
Dr. Marc Wellmann
Opening reception: Friday, January 15, 2010, 6 - 10 p.m.
Heidestrasse 54, 10557 Berlin
Wed-Fri 12:00-6:00 pm, Sat 12:00-5:00 pm
and by appointment