Esther Schipper

Jacques Douchez & Norberto Nicola

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Friday, September 9, 2022

Esther Schipper is pleased to announce a special presentation with historical works by Jacques Douchez and Norberto Nicola, organized with Olivier Renaud-Clément.

Jacques Douchez and Norberto Nicola operated a collective studio, Atelier Douchez-Nicola, from 1959-1980. Inspired by tapestry as a three-dimensional form that combines finely woven natural fibers with abstract sculptural forms, their collaborative and independent textile work marks a key chapter in Brazilian art history. Inspired by his extensive travels, Nicola’s work often combines techniques and materials of indigenous cultures with those of European handicraft. For his part, Douchez’s dedication to abstraction is evident in balanced geometric constructions.

Central to Norberto Nicola’s textile practice are the qualities of flexibility, tension, and elasticity, which the artist sought to capture in his work, as well as the use of mixed media. In addition to drawing on his training as an abstract painter, works by Nicola demonstrate the importance of intuition and touch. Sourcing all materials from within Brazil, Nicola studied techniques and gathered natural fibers used by different indigenous communities throughout the country. He was a particularly passionate student of the feather art of indigenous communities of the Amazon, such as the Urubu-Kaapor and Tapirapé. He found resonance both in the color palettes used in feather art, which echo those of the Brazilian landscape, and in their broad functions that transcended mere decoration. Works such as Descobrimento (Discovery, 1980s) and Rebentos da Noite (Sprouts of the Night, 1986) conjure up images of verdant jungle, damp soil and fragile new growth. 

For Jacques Douchez, artistic tapestry combines his early fascination with the medieval textile arts of Cluny and the conceptual and technical rigor learned in painter Samson Flexor’s highly influential Atelier-Abstração. Untitled (1970s) is characteristic of this: its brooding color palette offset by careful construction and daring slits that evoke the work of abstractionist contemporaries such as Lucio Fontana. In Untitled (1973) Douchez’s inclinations towards mathematics and balanced composition are clearly on display. While the colors reference the lush flora of Brazil, the work is laid out on a rigorous geometric grid and the irregular organic forms are strictly confined within two harmonious spheres.

The joint studio Atelier Douchez-Nicola represented a significant step in the development of contemporary art in Brazil. In conversation with international innovators such as Magdalena Abakanowicz and Jagoda Buić Douchez and Nicola broke with local and Western tradition to create three-dimensional tapestries. Texture, mixed media, and intentional incisions complement the artists’ painterly skills of color and line, creating a whole new kind of “woven object” as the artists’ referred to their works in their 1969 manifesto Formas Tecidas (Woven Forms).

We thank Gomide&Co for their generous collaboration on this project.

Location: 
Esther Schipper Potsdamer Strasse 81E 10785 Berlin

Radiant Exposures

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Friday, September 9, 2022

Opening Friday September 9, 6–9pm, and continuing through October 15, 2022.

Esther Schipper is pleased to announce Radiant Exposures, Rosa Barba’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. On view will be films and works using film as sculptural and painterly medium.

In Radiant Exposures the artist introduces an exhibition architecture with two angled walls that steers visitors through the space and also provides a structure in which Barba’s films are screened and the artist’s sculptural works installed in a carefully orchestrated setting. Yet, signaling the importance of both film and sound as major themes in Rosa Barba’s practice, visitors will encounter the first—or last—work, Wire Piece, 2022, in the vestibule created by the wall element.

Wire Piece, 2022 consists of a drum string, tightly strung/held between ceiling and column, which is touched—played, really—by a strip of film stock looped by a modified projector. Creating a silvery tone, the piece of celluloid takes on an unexpected role: a medium on which light encodes information, it doubles as a mechanical instrument producing sound. Once inside the space, the sound complements the sonic ensemble created by the exhibition’s films, sculptural and performative objects, and “cinematic paintings.”

Cinematic sculptures—such as Color Response, 2022, two projectors that cross their beams of light, traversing an object made from sheets of glass and rollers to project indexes of filmed color filters—manipulate the apparatuses of cinema and submit the machines and the materials to the requirements of their new forms.

Some works seem to paint or draw in space: Mending Clear Positions, 2022, for instance, which tightens and loosens strips of celluloid, creates a constant play of horizontal lines straightening and slackening, or, in the case of, Stellar Populations, 2017/2022, in the process of letting film gently propel metal balls, the work turns their activity into ever-changing drawings.

In Barba’s practice, time is not treated as a fixed entity, not as a linear expansion. Instead, her works seem to modulate it: time is slowed down in films and broken-up or halted by stuttering apparatuses. The 2017 A Shark Well Governed makes manifest this topic in Barba’s work: Strips of celluloid, with hand-written text with the artist’s speculations on time, move across the sides of an illuminated square light box. The film strips take on a double function as repository of knowledge and as screen through which light becomes modulated.

Barba brings together works in Radiant Exposures that all appear to have their own rhythm and exist in their own time but also become integral part of a choreographed whole. In this context, the film Solar Flux Recordings, 2022 takes a central role in the exhibition. For her 2017 solo exhibition at the Museum Reina Sofia’s Palacio de Cristal, Barba constructed a delicate frame (a reconstruction of the palacio’s formal vocabulary) inside the nineteenth-century structure and placed shapes with filters high up in its roof. Made from handblown colored glass, the locations of the filters were precisely calculated according to the passage of the sun. The building “became a kind of machine” as Barba noted, in effect turning the entire Palacio de Cristal into a sundial. Solar Flux Recordings, 2022 captures the passage of time through shadows and the movement of the sun produced over the course of the Madrid exhibition. At the gallery, in an echo of its conception, the film is projected through glass filters that emulate the ones Barba installed in the Palacio de Cristal and refract the film as it is projected.

The new 16mm film Radiant Exposures—Facts Run on Light Beams These Days, 2022, (the latter part of the title quotes from Donna Haraway) returns to Rosa Barba’s long-standing motif of the desert and its exploration of modern archives as a manifestation of human’s desire for progress. As in previous films, Radiant Exposures—Facts Run on Light Beams These Days appears to portray a site out of time and space—ethereal, timeless and unearthly.

The exhibition’s title, Radiant Exposures, alludes to this dichotomy as well: it draws attention to the threshold of creation and destruction at which everything exists. Thus, while the exposure of celluloid must be controlled in order to produce the image—let in too much light into the (analog) camera and the encoded images are lost—this balance also holds true for our existence and the future of the planet, as both “radiance” and “exposure” carry in them a certain threat in times of climatic crises. At the same time, the title also introduces the beauty and timelessness of the cosmos and alludes to Barba’s continued research into the overlaps of film and astronomy.

Location: 
Esther Schipper Potsdamer Strasse 81E 10785 Berlin

Summer '22

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Thursday, July 21, 2022

Continuing through August 27.

Special opening hours August 1–14 – Wed–Fri 12–6pm

 

Esther Schipper is pleased to present Summer ’22, a group exhibition with works by Sarah Buckner, Ann Veronica Janssens, Sojourner Truth Parsons, Cemile Sahin, Julia Scher, Sun Yitian and Tao Hui. On view will be works in a range of media, among them installation, film, sculpture and painting.

Summer ’22 brings together artistic approaches which, though employing a variety of media, share an impulse to transform personal observations and political concerns into formally striking, incisive works of art.

Cemile Sahin and Tao Hui conceived expansive environments in which their multi-channel video works are presented. Both artists draw on contemporary narrative conventions familiar from TV and digital media channels. Their presentations are markedly different: Tao Hui’s 2017 Hello Finale! Is organized in a strict grid with functional, office-like seating, each short video screened individually. Shot in nine different locations in Kyoto, and featuring local actors speaking in Japanese, the work evokes, through its mises-en-scène, the visual tropes of Japanese television. Cemile Sahin’s Bad People, Bad News, 2021, on the other hand, screens her three-channel video as part of a colorful, industrial-looking construction with beach chairs. An overall narrative, centered on the story of three Kurdish women who celebrate Sadam Hussein’s death together annually, is formed about nations, dictatorships, monuments, terror, and questions about power and interpretive sovereignty, original and fake. Both works share a certain affectless air that seems more a symptom of trauma rather than an indication of indifference.

The subjects of the new paintings by Sarah Buckner and Sojourner Truth Parsons remain ambiguous: Paintings with enigmatic motifs evoke the impression of an emotional subtext but do not resolve their narrative tension or give away their mystery. The graphic clarity of Parsons’ compositions functions as a misdirection, as color and shape remain in continuous flux, oscillating between representation and abstraction. Buckner’s representations of fantastic figures feel both open-ended and precisely observed, as they appear to emerge from a fully formed narrative of which viewers can only catch a momentary glimpse. Sun Yitian’s large-scale Gun without Bullets juxtaposes the playful quality of an inflatable toy with the violent potential of a deadly weapon. Combining a glossily painted lush surface of a digitally rendered object with vaguely ominous iconography is characteristic of the young Chinese artist’s practice.
 

Another artistic approach is represented by Ann Veronica Janssens’ Umbrella, 2020. A thatched roof with a feathery crown, the work’s entire surface has been covered with gold leaf. With its references to the effects of the sun’s energy, symbolized by the use of gold leaf, Umbrella encapsulates both individual and far-reaching global ecological concerns in a single object combining formal restraint and great beauty. Julia Scher’s pioneering historical work, Hidden Camera (Rhizome) from 1991/2018, finally, employs humor to draw our attention to the issue at hand: our long-standing surveillance by technological apparatuses, here hidden in plain sight in greenery. In addition, the work plays on the ambivalence between anxiety of being surveilled and taking pleasure in observing and being observed.

The exhibition’s title partakes in an apparent contradiction of form and content that runs through the presented works: Summer ’22 is thus perhaps best encapsulated in the deceptive playfulness of Sahin’s bright beach chairs, which encourage relaxed lounging, while watching a film about the enduring power of images.

Location: 
Esther Schipper Potsdamer Strasse 81E D-10785 Berlin
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