Not Yet But Still
@Cofa Contemporary, Cologne
with works by Jessica Gispert, Daniel Kiss, Alex Morrison & Joshua Sex
For COFA Contemporary MÉLANGE arranged a marvelous group show.
What brings the four artists together is a certain approach towards flawed surfaces. In a literally meaning of surface, to reside above the skin of objects, they take a step back from a pure material fetish, which is a recent tendency in artistic productions. We could call it a new age of gloss, referencing American west-coast art of the 1960s, where the relevance of an artwork is also translated by its presence of high-end materials and products and where visibility becomes equal to content. In different ways the four artists deal with moments of uncertainty, of the incomplete or missing of something. Here and there might be little or more obvious mishaps, questioning the very meaning of perfection in artistic production.
What is (true) beauty of the female appearance und how can you recreate it? Is it possible to imitate beauty? Jessica Gispert (b. 1985, lives and works in Düsseldorf) works deals with the mutual influence of the artificial and natural. Her works dispute the fragile surfaces of entities, bodies and objects, trying to be something, which obviously they cannot be. It is mimicry of shininess. But: What you see is definitely not what you get. Gispert’s works consist of materials, which is monetary values are of negligible interest: plastic, foam, plaster or even bath salts. She focuses on the materiality of objects, altering it to a degree, that their intrinsic value is beyond recognition. She questions the identity of things, not only of lifeless objects but also of the human body itself.
With a subtle minimalistic approach, Daniel Kiss (b. 1984, lives and works in Cologne) creates works, which is aloof and systematic using a cool and neutral imagery, yet contrasting it with a painterly gesture. It is mainly the colour of his wooden objects and his hand-made paper works that contests the surface sleekness. Though his works often refer to pop and mass culture, they do not simply reference recognisable forms. By applying abstraction in different manners, he creates objects that push the meaning of everyday cultural habits and forms. Through aestheticizing of simple, unagitated forms and symbols, Kiss openly questions approaches to sleek art and its production itself.
The work of Alex Morrison (b. 1972, lives and works in Brussels) derives from an artistic analysis of the architecture in his hometown Vancouver (B.C., Canada). The latest series of works, introduced in a double solo-presentation at Burnaby Art Gallery and SFU Gallery in Vancouver (Sept.-Nov. 2015), the artist combines computer-generated environments and countercultural elements, which detract themselves from the Victorian inspired space. Colour, patterns and materials in the work relegate retro design trends, especially from the 1970s and 80s, and at the same time quote preceding works by Morrison.
For Joshua Sex (b. 1985, lives and works in London) image and text are equal and can stand up for each other in an open association. His pieces stand in the tradition of narrative-art/story-art from the 1970s, which was, back than, a reaction to the fixed aesthetics of conceptual art, and might be nowadays again a possibility to deal with the strong conceptual practices of today’s artists. What is important for Sex is how word and image collaborate with each other. The untold part of the story is as relevant as what you read, see or listen to. His lyrical brush-stroke is entrenched with fairytale-like phrasing and has a moral ending, while his paintings shift between the abstract and the emblem. Both show a deep understanding and examination of a painterly discourse, folktales and social topics, as each painting is based upon Irish stories. He combines his images with his lyrical work with traditional tin-whistle and singing, leaving the spectator on its own how story and painting go together.