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02 Aug 2011


Foto: Sara Glaxia, Graphic Design: Julian Simmons, Courtesy Galerie Meyer Kainer, Wien

Lucas Bosch Gelatin
Kunsthalle Krems, Austria


Kunsthalle Krems: Lucas Bosch Gelatin July 17–November 6, 2011 opening hours: daily 10 a.m - 6 p.m.

Tina Bayer
+43 (0) 2732/908010
+43 (0) 2732/908011

Kunsthalle Krems
Franz-Zeller-Platz 3
3500 Krems an der Donau

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The exhibition entitled LUCAS BOSCH GELATIN transforms the Kunsthalle Krems into a space of experience and a zone for the senses: Bosch, his studio and his successors provide the foil against which a counter-world is unfolded that has been proliferating for 500 years. Drawing on the mysterious chambers of wonders on the dark side of reason, British contemporary artist Sarah Lucas (b. 1962) and the Gelatin group - Wolfgang Gantner (b. 1968), Ali Janka (b. 1970), Florian Reither (b.1970) and Tobias Urban (b. 1971) - afford a view into a new exhibition universe. Their bewitching and disturbing imageries are situated in the fluidly fantastic imaginary that arouses marvel and stirs yearning.

Visitors' circles of associations want to be expanded and their senses armed for a game with the intellect. Artistic image production remains ambivalent between the real and the unreal. In the quicksands of the inscrutable, desire addresses itself to itself. Walking the line sharpens the criticism of our social barriers and norms. Goings-on of ironic ambiguity break up the sternness of the architecture for a wilderness conquered by the naturalness of art to break in. In a multiform territory, Eros and Death lurk in animal symbols and endless fragmented body parts. In complex 'elective affinities' with the provocative style informed by Bosch exhibition visitors will be carried off into settings of fantastic representations.

The Netherlandish painter Hieronymus Bosch is considered as one of the first artists of the fantastic. In his multi-figure scenes, he created disturbing image worlds in which the fantastic is bizarrely located between this world and the beyond. Bosch's view of the world is focused on human fears and desires and on social anomalies. His oeuvre ranks among the most enigmatic in art history. Interpretations range from attempts to decode allegedly heretic or alchemistic meanings in them to accounts which see Bosch as a satirical enlightener. His innovative power inspired a host of imitators who took up the typical elements of his imagery with all those mysterious chimeras and demoniacal worlds and kept using them until long after his time. The work of this Brabant painter from the late Middle Ages is the extract of a time long past. Speaking from it is the spirituality of an epoch in upheaval. With its grotesquely fantastic creations, it still amazes art lovers, experts, and artists today. Whether in Bosch's own lifetime, in Mannerism, the Romantic epoch, Symbolism, Surrealism, or not least contemporary art – throughout the epochs, the real provided the basis for the emergence of the fantastic, with art production impressively negotiating the ambivalence between the real and the unreal.

Gelatin is a shapeless mass, restless and ubiquitous. The Austrian artist collective of the same name, Gelatin, have drawn public attention since 1993 with their unconventional performances, sculptural works, and space-filling installations. Their interventions often have the charm and poetic air of private events. They neither insist on locking the public out, nor are uncomfortable with media curiosity. But at the bottom of their hearts these four artists are discreet, almost shy protagonists who perhaps are happiest when absorbed in their art-making. Their work is characterized by an affinity, or yearning, for excess, by emotion and rebellion against any kind of conformism, as well as by the interrogation of antithetical notions such as reality and imagination, experience and intuition, attempt and temptation, or cause and effect.

They deliberately expand, and elaborate on, the central theme of the fantastic, grotesque and absurd, as does British artist Sarah Lucas. In Lucas' sculptures and installations, metaphor works as a doubly ambiguous and explicit territory in which social and sexual morality is interrogated, often with provocative humor. Her reinterpretations of objects – whether it is furniture, tabloids, pantyhoses, toilets, or cigarettes – create a paradoxical mix of the robust and the fragile, of the pitiless and the tender. With commanding ease, Sarah Lucas succeeds in her work to transpose everyday items, through recontextualization, into the sphere of the fantastic. Body-related metaphors make her assemblages appear charged with unequivocal eroticism.

However blunt these allusions may seem at first, they leave viewers with an impression of enigmatic ambiguity. It is precisely because of this impenetrable multivocality combined with bold directness that these symbolisms with their special connotations irresistibly infiltrate viewers' subconscious.

The exhibition at the Kunsthalle Krems bridges the 500-year time gap between the artists, showing that fantasy and imagination are the main driving forces in art. The goal of the exhibition is to facilitate different insights by placing exhibits in new 'neighborships' outside any established museological order. What Sarah Lucas, Hieronymus Bosch, and Gelatin have in common is aspects of deviance, alienation and protest. The open experimental set-up of the Krems presentation is intended to start a fruitful dialogue between the positions through new pictorial contexts on the one hand, and to explore fundamental constellations of different epochs on the other. Important to note here is the fact that the semantic structures of the artworks juxtaposed ought to be read as both affirming and renouncing overarching meaning.

Concept: Brigitte Borchhardt-Birbaumer, Hans-Peter Wipplinger