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Erwin Wurm: Synthesa (6 rue St-Georges) Nov 7, 2013 - Jan 4, 2014
Private View, Thursday, 7 November, 5–8pm
Xavier Hufkens is pleased to present an exhibition of new sculptures by
Famous for his One Minute Sculptures (stagings of bizarre situations, each
lasting precisely 60 seconds and captured in photographs), Wurm’s work
has evolved in recent years from the ephemeral to finely crafted, technically
complex sculptures and large-scale public commissions. Although Wurm’s
principal medium is sculpture, his work encompasses a wide variety of media
and materials, including text, video, architecture, photography and painting.
Interested in the fundamentals of sculpture, he defines and establishes all of
these typically separate disciplines as a sculptural means of expression.
Humour, irony and paradox play an important role in his oeuvre. While
his work can, at first glance, seem anarchic or subversive, it ultimately reveals a
layer of disturbing, or revelatory, social, personal or art historical implications.
Nostalgic references to the architecture, food and the colours associated with his
childhood often crop up, and the sausages that feature in a new series of bronzes
are a type of frankfurter that is ubiquitous throughout Europe. Arranged
into recognisable human forms, or even a building (Tower of the Socialistic
Internationale), each ‘figure’ seems to acquire its own distinct personality. The
series reflects Wurm’s interest in transforming the existing material world and
his fascination with the way that the mind can alter the perception of reality.
The related Abstract Attack series shows various different buildings being
destroyed by sausages. Architecture and destruction are recurrent themes in
Wurm’s work and the Attack series involved a particularly difficult production
process. The artist began by first making models of the various buildings,
including prisons, warehouses, bunkers and domestic architecture. Says Wurm:
‘And then came the most important part: I had to work on the houses to attack
them… With only one model of each form, I had to find a balance between
being willing to try everything I wanted to and not wanting to try something for
fear of destroying the building.’ The final part of the process involved preserving
the smashed buildings by casting them in bronze.
Increasing, remodelling or removing volume – the classic concerns of
many a sculptor – are given a new twist in Wurm’s Synthesa series. Wurm
has always been interested in destroying, distorting and extending volumes to
the limit – any form of action or gesture that skews the everyday ‘normality’.
Taking a typically cross-media approach, Wurm deconstructs and reassembles
the human body: he enlarges and reduces bodily parts, subtracts segments and
adds new and unexpected elements (in this case a plastic bucket). These works
investigate the relationship between deeply emotional conditions and the human
body. Can anger or fear, for example, become a sculptural form by searching for
a physical manifestation of the psychological condition in the human body?
Erwin Wurm was born in 1954 in Bruck an der Mur/Styria, Austria.
His most recent exhibitions include Abstract Abstruse, Wincavod - Centre for
Contemporary Art, Moscow, Russia (2013); Good Boy, MOCAK – Museum
of Contemporary Art in Krakow, Poland (2013); Home, Vitra Design
Museum, Germany (2013); De Profundis, Albertina, Vienna (2013); Am I
A House, CAC Malaga, Spain (2012); Beauty Business, Bass Museum of Art,
Miami, USA (2011), Dallas Contemporary, Texas, USA (2012); Wear Me Out,
Middleheimmuseum, Antwerp, Belgium (2011); Liquid Reality, Kunstmuseum
Bonn, Germany (2010); Narrow Mist, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art,
Beijing, China (2010) and The Artist Who Swallowed the World, Kunstmuseum
St. Gallen, Switzerland (2008). In 2011, Erwin Wurm’s Narrow House was
installed at the Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti as part of Glasstress 2011, a collateral
event of the 54th Venice Biennale.