beta pictoris gallery is excited to announce Sonja Rieger - Queen on the Nile, the artist’s third solo exhibition with the gallery.
Sonja Rieger’s new photographs were taken in the town of Camden, Alabama, some thirty eight miles from Selma, Alabama. As of the 2010 census, there were 2,020 people residing in the town; over one out of four households had a female householder with no husband present.
Rieger’s new series of photographs are portraits of young girls in their Halloween costumes, some of the costumes were purchased, some were homemade, as if cobbled together in a marvelous attempt to escape a reality, an everyday routine, a town too small, a place too hard. The girls‘ faces marvel at the camera, as if it would, could, transport them into their newly adopted identity; the superhero, the princess, the queen. In an attempt to document a moment of escape, of wishful “otherness”, we, the spectators, gaze at faces filled with excitement, happiness, shyness, and sometimes disillusion; but also stares of resolve, defiance, and determination.
Photographic portraits as social commentary have existed all through the medium’s life, and Rieger’s most recent series makes us immediately think of the photographs shot in South Alabama by Arthur Rothstein (1915-1986), while working for the U.S. government. Rothstein’s series of images shot in 1937 in Alabama - especially the image “Artelia Bendolph, Gee’s Bend, Alabama, 1937 ” (shown on left). The photograph conveys a strong visual statement on the girl’s living condition, and an immediate parallel is drawn to the living condition of her fellow black Alabamians. The serious, weighted expression on the child’s face poignantly illustrates her disenfranchised social and economic position. The framing of the crude cabin window and the newspaper insulation with its unattainable food advertisements reinforce her isolation from the recovering American economy.
Rothstein often referred to the young girl in this image, Artelia, as a “Queen on the Nile” (1). For Rothstein, this image does so much, with three different effects, all working together to create this one image: “You see the girl - that’s effect one. You see the ad [the blond woman] - that’s effect number two. But the third effect is when you see both images together and recognize the irony.” (2)
Sonja Rieger (b. 1953 in Ansbach, Germany) earned her MFA in 1979 at the Rutgers University Mason Gross School in Brunswick, NJ, and her MA in 1976 at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA. Her work can be found in the permanent collections of the 21c Museum in Louisville, KY; the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, LA; the International Polaroid Collection in Cambridge, MA; the Birmingham Museum of Art in Birmingham, AL; and private collections in the U.S. and Belgium.
(1) (2) Arthur Rothstein, Documentary Photography, Focal Press, 1986, page 39
November 4 - Dec. 18, 2015
Wednesday, Nov. 4 (6-8pm)
" I paint in order to seek a space, and in this process the painting is integrated into structures simply to show the colour - colour, nothing else. But that colour always extends over a surface, which no longer has to be flat, and 'that' which happens between the colour and the surface is what for me takes on an essential relevance. That halo that seems to go beyond the support and project itself over some other place.
I am sure that is what painting is, and also that it is not anymore. "
-- Irene Grau
beta pictoris gallery is excited to announce Irene Grau ▲, the artist's first U.S. exhibition.
Irene Grau choses a symbol to be the exhibition title. The symbol ▲. The triangle, the symbol for a mountain, a peak on a map. With her new series of photographs, the artist invites us again to join her outside the comfort of the artist studio - she invites us to discover painting outside, to paint outside. Like in her recent series “What was important was on the line, not at the end ”, 2015, “Color Field ”, 2014, and “Enamel on stretcher in landscape ”, 2014, she takes us on a trip, a walk to be precise.
▲ is landscape. ▲ is painting. ▲ is a mountain, a peak and its representation on a map, or simply a pile of pigment. Get out of the studio, go out, and find the painting up there, or down here. Exit and “paint” small mountains of colored powder in different places and at different altitudes, playing with scale, color, and altimetry. The paint loses shape or form, it returns to its formless state, and returns to the earth as a stranger, yet familiar to the landscape.
The abstract, triangular shape ▲ is both natural and artificial, it is simply the way the pigment falls into one particular place from a single point - a small action, which in turn defines the mountain and its graphical representation.
An action repeated twelve times: twelve peaks of paint.
Irene Grau (b. 1986) earned her MFA and BFA at the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain, and at the Accademia di Belle Arte di Palermo in Sicily, Italy. She was the 2010 recipient of a Scholarship for Academic Excellence, and the 2011 recipient of a Ministry of Education FPU Scholarship for PhD Studies. Grau has shown her work internationally in solo exhibitions and group shows since 2008, most recently in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, Brazil; Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, and Valencia, Spain; and at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Her work can be found in numerous private collections in Europe, Asia, and the U.S.
Barbara (*1940) and Michael Leisgen (*1944)
In the 1970s, the early works of Barbara & Michael Leisgen came as a counterpoint to conceptual photography, notably led by the typological school of Bernd & Hilla Becher in Düsseldorf. The different works illustrated hereunder are part of the Mimesis series, located in practices in operation since the early 1960s : the recording of a natural trace, research concerning the body and experiments related to Land Art. Barbara Leisgen’s silhouette is set, and leaves its fleeting trace in landscapes; the actions involve stretching out her arms to follow the contours of undulating countryside (the Paysage mimétique and Mimesis series), or to include the sun in an arc drawn by her arm while she is seen from behind in the center of the image. This is not merely imitating nature through its gestures; it describes, in the sense of tracing, and channels it as well. The (re)appropriation of the landscape is subjective, the silhouette of Barbara Leisgen being displayed in the landscape, inscribing its mark therein is ephemeral.
The pictures recall the visions of German Romanticism, notably the pictures of Caspar David Friedrich - his painting Morgenlicht being the figurative model for the Leisgen's Mime-sis works, although Friedrich's paradigm for considering nature as sacred is amended. One might see this as an anthropocentric romantic perspective such as the French Romantic view gave us. And yet, despite the sublime aspect of the photographed scenes and the preciousness of the prints which, beyond black and white, allow us to imagine a range of colors in the dazzling light, their images also refer back to the naivety and intrinsic nostalgia of souvenir photographs. The actual viewer is placed in a specular perception, being led to look at a woman posing in a natural expanse. By doing so, Barbara & Michael Leisgen are the precursors of current landscape approaches, relying simultaneously on a modernist and postmodernist viewpoint.
Barbara and Michael Leisgen's work is discussed and mentioned in numerous publications, including "Feminism Art Theory: An Anthology 1968 - 2014" (2015) by Hilary Robinson, "Video Art Historicized: Traditions and Negotiations (Studies in Art Historiography)" by Malin Hedlin Hayden (2015), "Une introduction a l'art contemporain" by Philippe Coubetergues (2005), "Le Corps photographié" by Jean-Paul Blanchet, Dimitri Konstantinidis, ... (1996), "Le sentiment de paysage à la fin du XXème siècle" by Bernard Ceysson (1977), "Chroniques de l'Art Vivant" (1974), etc.
Their work been the subject of several publications - mostly in conjunction with exhibitions, such as "Les Ecritures du Soleil (Sonnenschriften)" (1978), "Die Ägyptische Wand" (1980), "Stellungsspiel" (1987), "De la beauté usée : Barbara et Michael Leisgen, [exposition, Paris, Maison européenne de la photographie, 10 septembre-9 novembre 1997]" (1997), "Kunst-Landschaft 1969-2000" (2000), "Zeitsprung" (2000), and "Positions" (2006), amidst others.
Manuel Caeiro, born 1975, lives and works in Lisbon. Of special note among his solo exhibitions are those held at the Palácio Vila Flor, Guimarães, Portugal; at Lurixs Gallery, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil ("DownTown", in 2009); at Carlos Carvalho Arte Contemporânea, Lisbon, Portugal (“12 000 m2 dentro de um T0”, in 2011; and "Welcome to my Loft", in 2007); and at the Portuguese National Museum of Natural History, Lisbon, Portugal ("Casas da Caparica", 2005).
Noteworthy group exhibitions include the ones held at the MACUF - Contemporary Art Museum, La Corunna, Spain, curated by Paulo Reis ("Fiat Lux - Iluminación y Creación", 2010); at the Barrié de la Maza Foundation, La Corunna, Spain ("La Colección", 2011); at the Modern Art Museum, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, curated by Luiz Camillo Osorio and Marta Mestre ("Terceira metade", 2011); at the Manuel de Brito Art Centre ("À Volta do Papel", 2008); and at the gallery Carlos Carvalho Arte Contemporânea ("Surrounding Matta-Clark", 2006).
His work is included in the collections of the Culturgest, Lisbon; the PLMJ Foundation, Lisbon; and the Banco Sabadell, Barcelona; among others.
Mark Flood (born 1957 in Houston, TX) got his BA from Rice University in Houston. His work has been exhibited internationally in Spain, the UK, France, Italy, Greece and Germany. In 2012, Luxembourg & Dayan gallery in New York held a survey of Flood’s seminal work of the 1980’s, bringing together more than one hundred pieces of Flood’s paintings and collages.
Flood’s work can be found in the collections of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the Dallas Museum of Art,the Menil Collection, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and the Birmingham Museum of Art.
His work is widely exhibited throughout the United States and abroad. Described as an “agent provocateur and enfant terrible - a painter and a prankster," Flood is "known for his fierce intelligence, wry wit, and undeniable talent.” Beginning with his paintings and collages from the 1980s -- while he was in the punk rock band Culturcide -- Flood has been a raucous cultural critic, attacking one and all: low-brow and high culture. The artist's work is both a powerful lens on America and a sophisticated, anarchic continuation of high art’s love affair with the readymade.” Flood’s collages and collection of detritus recall Bruce Connor’s careful constructions and cataloging of the mass obsessions of his day. Flood, however, seems to have a split personality: one half punk-propaganda master and one half elegant lace painter. Using toxic colors and combinations, Flood started making paintings from paint soaked lace pressed against a canvas, showing the age and wear endured by the battered lace before its last incarnation in printmaking. Devoid of irony, the lace paintings have a formal beauty that transcends Flood’s earlier oeuvre, while still delivering a punch in the gut to traditional heroic notions of painting. Flood attributes this shift in style in part to critic Dave Hickey’s 1993 book The Invisible Dragon: Four Essays on Beauty. “Hickey made me realize that I made ugly art,” says Flood. “But that’s what I thought art was about—if you made something beautiful, you were suspect. … When I discovered how to make something beautiful, I no longer needed any art bureaucracy.”
“I am most interested in developing a visual space with color and forms on a visual plane. I start with the physical materials that a painter uses and then make changes based on intuition and on my reactions to the forms and colors present. When I am out walking, I may see a road, a construction site, working people, a tree, or the sky, and I try to incorporate the feeling of these visual physical things in my work. All of them have the power to cause me to ponder the relationship between the physical shape or material and mental reaction. Other influencing factors include the weather or conditions affected by time, body or even the sound of wind.”
- Yoshishige Furukawa, 1997
Japanese artist Yoshishige Furukawa’s paintings shown on this page date from 1973 to 1976, and are part of, or relate to, the artist’s important and rare black-rubber-sheets series created while living in New York, where the artist moved to from Japan in 1963. The non-color of black and the solid sense of the material of rubber reflected a rather reticent and ascetic impression of 1970’s art. Despite this, the various variations that were woven by the black geometric forms in triangles, squares and polygons continued to evoke dynamic senses of motion and expression that were alike in appearances but different in nature from the regularly repetitive element inherent to Minimalism.
Furukawa’s Oeuvre was recently the subject of a major retrospective at the Fukuoka Prefectural Museum of Art. The paintings shown here were included in said retrospective, and several of them are included in the exhibition’s publication.
His work is in numerous important Japanese Museum collections, including the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo; the National Museum of Art in Osaka; the National Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto; the Fukuoka Art Museum in Fukuoka; the Kitakyushu Museum of Art; the Museum of Modern Art in Saitama; and the Saga Prefectural Art Museum; amidst others.
His work has been exhibited in the U. S. and Japan throughout his life, including the Albright-Knox Museum in Buffalo, NY in 1991, and he received numerous important grants, twice from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation (1990 and 1997).