The new Explorations section presents curated booth presentations by featured galleries. It unites a wide spectrum of artistic practices concentrating on both excellent quality and advanced approaches. This section is overseen by Berlin-based curatorial adviser Nadim Samman, whose fresh take on art has taken him to numerous international exhibitions and biennales.
Explorations showcases vital positions from throughout Western, Central, and Eastern Europe – bringing together both emerging and senior artists. The presentations register 2018’s unsettled mood: from Philip Aguirre’s (BE) meditations on the refugee crisis, and David Krňanský (CZ) and Alex Urban’s (PL) painterly exploration of “the collapse of all systems”, to Kaja Redkie’s (PL) excursus on black, and the ludic-macabre sculptures of Maen Florin (NL) and Michaël Dans (BE). Exploring conceptual genealogies of the present, Luchezar Boyadjiev (BG) conjures the historical spectres of Marxism, Christianity, and more, while Budapest’s acb gallery showcases the neo-utopian artistic agendas around the influential Pecs workshop (István Gellér, Károly Hopp-Halász, and Sándor Pinczehelyi (HU). More open meditations on language and objecthood play out on canvases by Robert Maciejuk (PL), Irmina Staś (PL) and Paweł Matyszewski (PL), at Warsaw’s Le Guern, and in Christof Mascher’s suggestive not-history paintings. Come to your own conclusions at the open bar by Vienna’s Croy Nielsen, transported from their gallery space.
Budapest’s acb Gallery is a champion of Hungary’s ‘neo-avant-garde’ generation. This year, they present the work of three figures associated with the important Pécs Workshop (1968-1980): István Gellér (1946-2018), Károly Hopp-Halász (1946-2016) and Sándor Pinczehelyi (1946-). Departing from the strictures of Soviet Socialist Realism, all three artists pursued the renewal of constructive and geometrical approaches, building on the legacy of the Bauhaus, and Pécs-born Victor Vasarely’s Op-art.
LETO is the stage for Project BLACKOUT, a collaboration between David Krňanský (CZ) and Alex Urban (PL). The artists state that the project pursues a ‘metaphor for the collapse of all systems and loss of consciousness—the moment we are all afraid of but somehow everyone knows is coming.’ While speaking to this unsettled mood, each artist deploys their own grammar: Krňanský’s abstract paintings are marked by a dialectic between geometric figures and painterly expression, while Urban’s sculptures summon hallucinatory visions. Triangulation is effected by Kaja Redkie’s (PL) contribution – paintings that consider the imperfection of idealised tonality, glancing, just a little, towards the bright side.
Philip Aguirre’s (BE) recent work has explored the pressing issue of forced migration, through painstakingly wrought drawings and sculptures. For this edition of viennacontemporary, Belgium’s Geukens & De Vil present a complete reconstruction of his studio, promising visitors insight into the artist’s “total” work process. In addition to preliminary studies, the display will feature source materials, such as newspaper clippings, that have informed Aguirre’s subject matter and approach.
Christof Mascher (DE) debuts a new series of paintings at Philipp von Rosen, extending thematic agendas explored in his History Crush solo exhibition at the gallery, in 2016. Inviting narrative interpretations, hinting at historical readings, and full of suggestive allusions, Mascher’s colourful canvases play with expectations, through satisfaction and confounding.
Luchezar Boyadjiev (BG) is a leading figure in the Bulgarian art scene, known for marrying an acute conceptual agenda with a dark sense of humour. His solo presentation at Sariev Contemporary restages part of his important retrospective at Sofia City Gallery, earlier this year. Marshalling the historical specters of Marxism, Christianity, and the revolutionary avant-gardes, the featured works explore the pathos of Soviet artistic life, the body of Christ, and the artist’s own relationship to crisis.
Warsaw’s Le Guern presents three Polish painters from two generations: mid-career Robert Maciejuk (b.1965), alongside millennials Irmina Staś (b.1986) and Paweł Matyszewski (b.1984). Lately, Maciejuk’s work incorporates motifs taken from old books and postcards, to suggestive and mysterious effect. Staś’s own paintings deploy an array of signs, which oscillate between object references and more abstract forms. Meanwhile, Matyszewski’s rhetoric of the corporeal tends towards hybridizations of flesh, flora, and mineral. The latter two artists have collaborated on a painting that will also feature.
Vienna based art gallery, Croy Nielsen, brings a playful approach to presenting art with the relocation of their gallery bar to this years viennacontemporary art fair. With the offer of drinks served by bar hosts, art from Nina Beier, Birke Gorm, Nicolas Jasmin, Marlie Mul, Albert Mertz, and Ben Schumacher will accompany the “fair furniture” in attempt to refrain from “classic” exhibition presentations.
Belgium’s Nadja Vilenne presents Maen Florin (NL) and Michaël Dans (BE). Florin’s anthropomorphic sculptures, which combine delicate ceramics with rough and ready materials, oscillate ‘between humour and tragedy […] the playful and the macabre, between silence and noise, resignation and aggression’, according to critic Marc Ruyters. Likewise blurring beauty and darkness, Michaël Dans’ own works probe melancholia, eroticism, and youth.
Nadim Samman is a curator and art historian based in Berlin. He read Philosophy at University College London before receiving his PhD from the Courtauld Institute of Art. He co-founded the 1st Antarctic Biennale (2017) and the Antarctic Pavilion (Venice, 2015-). In 2016 he curated the 5th Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, and in 2012 the 4th Marrakech Biennale (with Carson Chan). Other major projects include Treasure of Lima: A Buried Exhibition (a unique site-specific exhibition on the remote Pacific island of Isla del Coco) and Rare Earth (at Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna). In 2014 Foreign Policy Magazine named him among the ‘100 Leading Global Thinkers’.
Save the Date
27–30 September 2018
Marx Halle Vienna