Avatar and Atavism
Kunsthalle Düsseldorf
Grabbeplatz 4, D-40213 Düsseldorf, Germany


Em­ploy­ing a pro­cess of as­sem­bling and jux­t­a­po­sing works of art, the ex­hi­bi­ti­on “Ava­tar and Ata­vism. Outside the Avant-Gar­de” vi­sua­li­ses a phe­no­men­on by which a sur­pri­sing emer­gence of
heads, hands and other bo­di­ly si­gnals ab­rupt­ly lays an ar­che­ty­pi­cal an­chor in the art of the 1980. Re­now­ned ex­po­n­ents of Wes­tern art be­lon­ging to dif­fe­rent ge­ne­ra­ti­ons we­re the ones who re­vol­ted against the achie­ve­ments of mo­der­nism, ab­strac­tion and con­cep­tua­li­ty. Ani­mis­tic mo­ments ha­ve be­en in play sin­ce the tran­s­a­vant­gar­de of around
1980 that ex­press them­sel­ves in the “frag­men­ted bo­dy”, in the ani­mal as al­ter ego as well as other codes of the “Sa­va­ge Mind”. The clo­se ties to Outs­i­der Art are un­mis­t­aka­ble. The phe­no­men­on can be tra­ced to the pre­sent day, even if it has of­ten be­en sub­ject to very dif­fe­rent in­ter­pre­ta­ti­ons.
The ex­hi­bi­ti­on fea­tures works by re­now­ned ar­tists that veer bet­ween ob­ses­si­on, nar­ra­ti­on and iro­ny, as had be­co­me pos­si­ble af­ter the post-mo­dern turn of 1978. A gal­le­ry space wi­th works from the Paul Ma­enz Collec­tion opens the “sa­va­ge” deca­de wi­th na­mes li­ke Fran­ces­co Cle­men­te, Wal­ter Dahn, Mar­tin Dis­ler and Ge­org Ji­ri Dok­ou­pil. They are fol­lo­wed by works of a Sieg­fried Anzin­ger, flan­ked by such sin­gu­lar fi­gu­res as An­to­ni­us Hö­ckel­mann and Al­fred Klinkan. The sub­se­quent deca­de is dis­tin­gu­is­hed by an ani­mis­tic chain of works by ar­tists who in­vent new ava­tars: Franz West, Ro­se­ma­rie Tro­ckel, Gün­ther Förg, Tho­mas Schüt­te and Mi­ke Kel­ley: West’s le­murs, Förg’s masks and Tro­ckel’s knit­ted “Ba­la­cla­va” ski masks. The­se ar­che­ty­pes are com­ple­te­ly le­gi­ti­mi­sed and on­ly now tru­ly re­cognisa­ble by the fact that the­se ava­tars are by en­t­i­re­ly dif­fe­rent per­so­na­li­ties from pre­vious ge­ne­ra­ti­ons, hea­ded by Loui­se Bour­geois and Ma­ria Lass­nig wi­th Ge­org Ba­se­litz and Bru­ce Nau­man, who si­mul­ta­neous­ly dis­play­ed a si­mi­lar ba­sic ap­proach around.
Ar­tists such as Sa­rah Lu­cas, Ni­co­le Ei­sen­man, Da­na Schutz, Kai Alt­hoff, Tho­mas Zipp, An­dré But­zer, An­dy Ho­pe 1930 and John Bock con­ti­nu­ed on wi­th this ten­den­cy af­ter 2000, pla­cing their own very per­so­nal ac­cents. Tal R and Jo­na­than Mee­se erect a par­ti­al re­con­struc­tion of Cast­le MOR from 2005. The ava­tars of the youn­ger ge­ne­ra­ti­on of to­day are lin­ked by the re­a­dy­ma­de and me­dia re­flec­tion, for ex­amp­le Danh Vo, Jus­tin Ma­ther­ly,
and Eva Kot’átková.

The entran­ces and exit to the­se three deca­des of bo­dy pic­to­grams are ma­de up of two con­vo­lu­tes of con­tem­pora­ry Outs­i­der Art, lar­ge­ly from the cli­ni­cal field.

The ex­hi­bi­ti­on is cu­ra­ted by Veit Lo­ers wi­th Gre­gor Jan­sen and Pia Witz­mann.

Image: © Günther Förg: “Maske”, Bronze, 1990, Foto: Wolfgang Günzel, © Estate of Günther Förg, Courtesy Privatsammlung



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