Art Basel 2020
For its participation in the second edition of Art Basel’s Online Viewing Rooms, Simon Lee Gallery is pleased to present works by artists who seek to capture the ephemeral and protect the fleeting; preserving and eternalising memory.
Many artists have relished this period of quiet isolation to create something new in their quest to sustain or re-imagine what has been. The presentation includes new works by artists from the gallery’s programme, including Eric N. Mack, Paulina Olowska, Claudio Parmiggiani, Jim Shaw, Clare Woods and Toby Ziegler, alongside pertinent works by Mel Bochner, Sarah Crowner, Dexter Dalwood, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Bernard Frize and Sherrie Levine.
Some artists seek to define the intangible. Through performance, digital photography and painting, Donna Huanca immortalises human interaction and chemistry; in METAL y PIEDRA DE IJADA, a digital image of a model’s painted body is covered with gestural marks of oil stick fortified with sand. The memory of sensation is suspended in time, and thus, Huanca’s oeuvre stands at the junction of performance and preservation. In her Night Sky works, Angela Bulloch employs computer simulation to capture the sacred and ethereal – that which is invisible to the eye, and that which we cannot experience from Earth. Night Sky: Herkules.6 mirrors its namesake constellation that cannot be seen by the naked eye from Earth. Similarly, in his haunting Delocazione, Claudio Parmiggiani seeks to capture impermanence and the memory of movement. In a new work, butterflies are suspended across the canvas, their detached wings halted mid-motion.
Elsewhere, artists examine the function of memory. Jim Shaw is celebrated for his outlandish use of familiar icons and characters mined from popular culture and implanted into fantastic, albeit dystopian worlds. Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Lounge, a theatrical interpretation of Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère (1882) imagines Donald Trump Jr. and Justin Kennedy – former-Deutsche Bank employee and son of Anthony Kennedy, himself in turn a former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States – conversing over a drink. Throughout his practice, Shaw re-imagines the conversations, interactions and meetings that have shaped American politics and culture.
In his re-working of historical paintings, Toby Ziegler takes another approach to our perception of history. The artist’s process often begins with the appropriation of an image which, through endless reproduction, has passed into the visual subconscious; each digitally rendered image, its composition and content, is manipulated from a low-resolution jpeg of the source image. Anchorite porn takes as its starting point St. Augustine in his Study (1502) by Vittore Carpaccio. The slow, delicate process of Renaissance figurative painting is held in stark contrast to the disruptive rapidity of Ziegler’s erasure and intervention. In his distortion of the existing, he creates the new.
Memories exist in our imagination. However, when translated onto a canvas, into a sculpture, or a performance, they adopt new meaning. In unearthing the past, artists create works that commemorate our present day, a specific moment or a fleeting act.