Avatar and Atavism
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