Taking over David Zwirner’s gallery space in Paris, German artist Isa Genzken returns with a new body of work that seems to both celebrate and destroy the assembled codes of historical knowledge in architecture and art, building a renewed awareness of space and time in the gallery spaces. This will be the artist’s fifth solo exhibition with David Zwirner and her first solo show in Paris since 2010, coinciding with a major presentation of Genzken’s early work at the Kunstmuseum Basel.
Genzken’s work relies on a constant subversion and investigation of the shifting boundaries between art, design, architecture, media, technology, and the individual, using these various cultural silos and ways of knowing to build a uniquely resonant body of work. She twists disparate materials and imagery to create complex, enigmatic works that range in media, including sculpture, painting, collage, drawing, film, and photography, with the legacies of the twentieth-century avant-garde and the materials and forms of twenty-first-century global society always in the foreground.
For this selection of pieces, the artist dives once again into the utopian cultural imperatives of the Bauhaus and the assembled ideas of a wold made anew through art, yet uses her strangely evocative and otherworldly works to poke fun at these same visions. Her pieces build entire worlds and use them as deflecting points to ask difficult questions on the nature of art, and its functions within society.
The show centers on an installation of Genzken’s recent “tower” sculptures, massive hunks of cardboard that draw on the artist’s decades-long fascination with architecture and urban skylines. At once makeshift and monumental, these architectonic forms consist of vertical structures of medium-density fiberboard adorned with mirror foil, spray paint, and other media, complicating the distinctions between interior and exterior space. Engaging the architectural and sculptural histories of modernism, the towers are physically imposing, yet the materials and their open and porous forms allude to the inherent vulnerability of the modern built environment. Built from the detritus of commercial production, her pieces challenge an assumption of the world as a maze of cast-off material, and asks how we might begin to reimagine it.
Also on view will be a recent group of aluminum wall-mounted panel works. Genzken creates these panels by layering various industrially produced, commercially available materials on top of the flat aluminum support. Visually, the works reference the materials and surfaces of minimalist sculpture, the gesturalism and materiality of twentieth-century abstraction, the cladding on corporate office towers, and modern screens and information surfaces, among other art-historical and modern design traditions.
The show is on view through October 10th.
— C. Rhinehardt
Isa Genzken at David Zwirner [Website]