'The Cell That Doesn't Believe In The Mind That It's Part Of' at Marres, Maastricht (NL)
The Cell That Doesn't Believe In The Mind That It's Part Of
Within Marres' long-term research program into the 20th century and the idea of avant-garde, this exhibition presents the work of Chris Evans (Eastrington, UK, 1967).
A solo exhibition of an artist's work is a unique occurrence in the program of Marres. Previous exhibitions rather focused on a specific period, such as the late 1960s in 'We Were Exuberant and Still Had Hope: Ettore Sottsass, works from Stockholm, 1969' or provided a reflection on a 20th century condition, such as the group exhibition 'Depression'. Within the investigation into the avant-garde of the 20th century however, the individual position of the artist is essential, since it is precisely this position that time and again leads to a radical breach with existing artistic conventions and, whether individually or as a group, addresses new questions for art in a fundamental way. The solo exhibition pre-eminently gives expression to the individual position of the modern artist who, freed from a commission, operates from a relative autonomy with respect to prevailing value systems. The modern and in extent contemporary artist is his own commissioner, and the exhibition offers the social platform for his work. Nevertheless, in an era in which the artist and his signature have been fully assimilated into the economy of the art market, it seems hardly possible for the individual artist to represent a meaningful position as such.
'The Cell That Doesn't Believe In The Mind That It's Part Of' presents an oeuvre that questions both the perceived autonomy of the artist and his work. The works collected and newly produced for this exhibition investigate the space where patronage, be it private, corporate or political, meets art. The relationship between patronage and art has been under radical changes throughout the last century. Patronage has been thought of as a relationship between merely independent positions, such as the artist, the collector, the philanthropist, the commissioner, the public funding body, the art market, however these positions are increasingly intermingled – but haven't they always been?
The individual works in this exhibition appear as silent witnesses of this investigation. Despite the fought autonomy and the absence of a commissioner, Chris Evans' practice still argues for the contemporary artwork as the unabated result of complex social power relations. The only position that seems to be left for the artist within the current play of power is inherently contradictory. It is a position that moves between artistic freedom and social responsibility, between individuality and collectivity, sovereignty and involvement. The exhibited works echo this paradox by voice of the nihilist vis-à-vis the constructivist and the libertine vis-à-vis the enlightened revolutionary.
Chris Evans' work employs classic genres (sculpture, portraiture, landscape) and materials (plaster, bronze, ceramics), as well as popular techniques, of which the airbrush is the most striking. The contemporary artist is proposed at once as professional and amateur, as specialist and generalist. The myth of the artist as genius, and the artwork as the sovereign expression of his individuality, is simultaneously negated and confirmed in a configuration of loose objects around which a web of negotiations is constantly at work.
New essays by Tirdad Zolghadr and Marina Vishmidt are published in conjunction with the exhibition.