Hauser & Wirth is currently showing Isa Genzken’s mixed media readymade assemblages, a variety of figural sculptures. Isa Genzken was born in 1948 and currently resides and works in Berlin. She was previously married to Gerhard Richter, with whom she has collaborated over the years. Genzken is a mixed media sculptor whose work draws on aspects of constructivism and minimalism, also taking inspiration from architecture. Her work is often compromised of media associated with building materials, used in conjunction with readymades.
The dolls’ plastic flesh hints at the promiscuity that influences our western ideals, juxtaposed with the display of embellished mannequins. Lining up in a rather austere fashion are multiple decapitated heads of Egyptian icon Nefertiti. The busts of the icons, which are displayed on freestanding pedestals, are adorned with modern day luxuries such as sunglasses. At the foot of each stark, white pedestal sits a defaced portrait of the Mona Lisa – another beautiful iconic figure. Within each of the reproductions of the paintings, there is an embedded image of the artist herself, which playfully sits covering the masterpiece.
Coinciding with her human representations, Genzken has displayed large scale collages which consist of a juxtaposition of wrapping paper, prints of images and mirrors. Within the backdrop of the geometric paper lie buildings, animals, people and patterns. The nonsensical compilation appears and erratic and chaotic, perhaps reflecting the modern day architecture which inspires her and the lifestyle it embodies. The wrapping papers seems to literally ‘map out’ the metaphorical paths through which people travel in their lives and also pays homage to the complex structure of roads and cities that elude our busy existences. The mirrors and portraits, which Genzken sporadically places throughout her works, invite us to reflect on the self and other.
The pedestals that she incorporates into many of her elongated sculptures enforce the satirical tone of the show; perhaps hinting that we take ourselves too seriously and suggesting that appearances deceive. As Genzken appears to point out through her use of feminine ideals (i.e. the mannequins), these concepts of perfection are forever changing and thus consequently unobtainable.