In his wide-ranging oeuvre, artist Peter Fischli carefully observes and draws from the everyday world to create sculpture, installation, video and works on paper that address similar concerns to those explored as part of his collaborative practice with his late collaborator David Weiss. The artist’s work, so often centered around often overlooked, quotidian aspects of everyday life, sees him posing that same in an experimental and humorous way. For his most recent show, Fischli takes that interest towards a pair of specific models.
Often using simple or conventional materials, the artist’s works raise questions about the nature of art and our existence in the world by shifting the meaning and reading of things. Here, that inquiry centers on monkeys and empty cans. In one room, the viewer is confronted by a series of large reliefs featuring the smiling visages of cartoonishly rendered monkeys. Each of the five reliefs is unique with distinct characteristics: While some have a clearly visible jungle background, others have no background at all or only a hint of it; the same can be said of the monkeys, which are elaborated in variously abstract or very concrete ways. Transmuting their forms across these various scenes, Fischli creates a sort of cultural hieroglyph, shifting in context and meaning while holding on to some central, yet elusive, sense of theme and mystery.
Joining the reliefs are approximately 20 groups of cans, each varying in numbers, from the artist’s CANS, BAGS AND BOXES series. Made of painted cardboard, they are also placed on or in pedestals of various dimensions, appearing either individually, in pairs or combined into small groups. The cans are lacquered with gloss and matte paint, carved or decorated with patterns. Recalling Fischli and Weiss’s prior work in creating dense accumulations of sculptural material referencing construction sites, art galleries in mid-installation, and other temporary spaces in the midst of re-creation, the works here post the same concept in the smallest of manners, a sort of reified still-life in which the objects themselves burst back into three-dimensional space, while retaining some sense of a study drawing or painting.
Posing a series of self-contained worlds transposed from the world at large, Fischli’s work never ceases to fascinate, and befuddle, allowing the viewer to stand in multiple places at once.
The show closes July 31st.
– D. Creahan
Peter Fischli at Sprüth Magers [Exhibition Site]