The winter season has started early this winter with early snow and you can already view new exciting winter exhibitions at Hauser & Wirth St. Moritz. This winter the gallery curates presentation of works by the celebrated German conceptual artist Isa Genzken, titled "Inside and Out", 9 December 2022–4 February 2023.
Bringing together the artist’s early exposed-concrete sculptures, social facades, and later wall works, the exhibition highlights Genzken’s career-long interest in modernist architecture, in particular its structural characteristics and social relevance. The works on display give visual form to central questions in the artist’s oeuvre that deal with the relationship between sculpture and space, location and perception, and the window or wall as a social and architectural connection between interior and exterior. How do we build up facade that can appear cold like concrete and impersonal. Artist explores this dichotomy cleverly in different materials in presented artworks.
The facade as a social construct
Isa Genzken. Untitled (2017). Adhesive tape on aluminium panel 70 x 100 x 1.8 cm. Photo: Jens Ziehe. All images courtesy the artist and Galerie Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin/New York. © 2022, Pro Litteris, Zurich.
With Genzken’s "Social Facades" (Soziale Fassaden), the artist examines the relationship between inside and out. By creating impressions of high-rise facades by means of metal foil and adhesive tape, Genzken brings the skyline down to our level, enabling direct interaction with the aesthetics of a fluctuating urban fabric. The "social facades" are once again referencing modernist architecture, where windows—particularly glass facades—were introduced as central design elements in skyscrapers to connect the interior with the exterior view.
Experimenting with autobiographical encodings
Incorporating various mirroring foils in "Untitled" (2017), Genzken not only highlights the formal qualities of the facades but also the reflective properties of the material they were made of. Additional wall works on view demonstrate how Genzken has, in recent years, allowed more and more traces of her own life into her works. Inserting autobiographical encodings, such as her self-portrait, into her works has nothing to do with expressionist notions of authorship; instead, it underlines the continued social and personal element of Genzken’s work. In "Untitled" (2017), her visage is captured in an informal snapshot, placed in the middle of what looks like her studio, and collaged into a grid of tape and foil.
Isa Genzken. Untitled (2015). Mirror foil, newsprint, stickers on canvas 102.2 x 74 x 2.5 cm.
Combining autobiographical archival material with various reflective mirror foils, "Untitled" (2015) revisits the idea of the facade as a social construct in relation to her identity and presence as an artist.
Collaged and inserted among the materials and sculptural vocabulary that have typically defined her practice in recent years, these autobiographical images and their inclusion seem to mark an accelerated interest on Genzken’s part in positioning, quite literally, her body, image, and, indeed, herself into her work. "Yes, I'm also a social person, after all," Genzken notes. "You see that in my work, too, in which the viewer can again and again see his mirror image." The works in "Inside and Out" alter our own perception of what and how we see, allowing us to reflect on the space surrounding both the artwork and ourselves.
Isa Genzken. Saal (Room). 1989. Square steel tube table, 11concrete parts 219 x 99.5 x 50cm. Photo: Alex Delfanne.
Isa Genzken. Untitled (2018). Adhesive tape on aluminium panel 115 x 80cm. Photo: Jens Ziehe.
Genzken is best known for her sculptures, gaining acclaim for her minimalist-oriented hyperbolas and ellipses in the late 1970s and architecturally-inflected works such as her epoxy resin windows and skyscraper columns from the 1990s. While Genzken’s practice is highly diverse, she has continually challenged the viewer’s self-awareness by means of physically altering their perceptions, bringing bodies together in space, and integrating elements of mixed media into sculpture. Genzken’s work has been exhibited in international institutional shows. She was awarded the Nasher Prize for sculpture in September 2018 and the prestigious Goslarer Kaiserring (or Emperor’s Ring).
Isa Genzken. Untitled (2017). Concrete, furniture dollies, 2 parts, each193.5 x 60.5 x 35.5 cm. Photo: Jon Etter.