A collection of new paintings by Swiss artist Urs Fischer are currently on view at Sadie Coles HQ in London. Marking a departure from the artist’s more flashy exhibitions of subversive installations and sculptures, this is the first time Fischer has devoted himself strictly to large-scale paintings.
Urs Fischer at Sadie Coles (Installation View)
The results on view are far from representational, blending vivid brushstrokes and fluid movements across manipulated photographic material. Turning his painterly aspirations towards abstract expressionism and modernist explorations, Fischer achieves something of an abstracted trompe-l’œil. Beginning with a digital photo of various studios and spaces Fischer has inhabited between Los Angeles and Berlin, Fischer blurs, obscures and warps the final product, creating works call to mind the practices of the Dada movement, the Situationists or even the more ubiquitous screen-prints of Andy Warhol. The end result is actually a photographic reproduction, carefully smoothing over the wild surface of the piece to create a clean, tightly rendered abstraction in the surface of the image.
At 93 by 116 inches, the works are massive, but there is still a sense of clutter and frenzy on the surface the canvas. Using his trademark epoxy adhesive, along with acrylic primer, gesso, acrylic ink, spray enamel, acrylic silkscreen medium and regular acrylic paint, Fischer attempts to obstruct the mundanity of his surroundings, filling the picture plane with flurries of texture and color. The pieces are filled with bright collisions and slurs of paint, often alternating in density and pattern with a quick turn. However, this is not “painting, as usual.” Any notion of perspective is stripped from the image,and what ultimately hangs in the gallery is actually heavily manipulated to emulate the veneer of a professional screen print, rather than the textural experience associated with classic painting styles. Even in instances where details of the “room beyond” are more visible, either the broad lines of paint eradicate any spacial geometry, or the photograph yields an engineered imperfection.
Like Warhol, there is hardly an emotional resonance to the paintings. They appear “executed” and contain none of the improvisational or intuitive qualities that traditionally denote abstraction. On first glace, the viewer may be apprehensive to embrace this new body of work, contrasting with the more fun, irreverent work Fischer has made his trademark. However, this is the same simulacra that has fueled his practice all along, perhaps now signaling a transition towards more academic work.
The exhibition also features a group of sculptural works, including several of Fischer’s adventures into furniture design. Incorporating a different take on the artist’s fascination with space and domesticity, the works serve as a more familiar complement to his ambitious new pieces. Fischer’s exhibition is open through August 16th.
— M. Lax
Exhibition Site [Sadie Coles HQ]