29 June – 24 August 2019, Tanya Leighton, Berlin
Preview: 28 June 2019, 7–9 pm
Tanya Leighton is pleased to present ‘Nel Mezzo’, Sharon Hayes’ third solo exhibition at the gallery and the first presentation in Germany of her on-going video series ‘Ricerche’.
Sharon Hayes investigates the act of public speech and its intersections with history, politics, activism, queer theory, love and sexuality. In performances, videos, and installations, the artist examines these notions with regard to both the collective and the individual voice. ‘Ricerche’ is a project composed of multiple video works that uses Pier Paolo Pasolini’s film ‘Comizi d’amore’ (Love Meetings) as a guidepost for an examination of gender, sexuality and contemporary collective identifications.
In 1963, Pasolini travelled through Italy with a small camera crew on a cinematic inquiry. Interviewing groups of people (neighbours, co-workers, families, students, army buddies and members of a football team) on their views on sex, sexuality and what Pasolini named “inversion” or “perversion”. Pasolini divides this cinematic report into ‘Ricerches’ (Researches). As he moves from beach resorts, to town centres, to fields, universities and factories throughout the country, the work gathers various frictions: between the north and the south, progress and maintenance, young and old, children and parents, urban and rural, etc.
In her work ‘Ricerche’, Sharon Hayes adapts the structure of ‘Comizi d’amore’, following Pasolini’s foundational conceit to interview people outside and in groups. Borrowing from Pasolini’s questions and shot composition, Hayes’ works isolate certain of Pasolini’s scenes and stretch them in volume and duration. ‘Ricerche’ unfolds a contemporary field of non-hetero-normative family structures and non-binary gender identifications, and attempts to account for the complex contemporary conditions that inform collective understandings of gender, sex and sexuality as well as national, religious and ethnic identities.
Ricerche: three, 2013
Single Channel HD Video (Colour, Sound) 38 minutes
Commissioned for the 55th Biennale di Venezia in 2013, this work is an interview with 35 students at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts.
An all-women’s college, Mount Holyoke faced decades of declining enrolment from US born women and made a commitment, in the 1960s to heavily recruit international women. In the last decade, Mount Holyoke, as with many of these gender-segregated institutions, faced the increasing necessity to accommodate students who decide (after enrolment) to change their gender from female to male. On this level, and indeed less explicit ones, the population attending Mount Holyoke exists on a much wider gender spectrum than the description “all women’s college“ can hold clear.
In ‘Ricerche: three’ the 35 interviewees gather in one location, discussing gender normativity, religion, marriage, sex and queerness. In the last 12 minutes of the piece, the group erupts into a heated debate about transnational feminisms and the legacies of US imperialisms.
Ricerche: one, 2019
Two Channel HD Video (Colour, Sound) 28 minutes
This video diptych is Hayes’ most recent addition to the series. Structurally, it begins the same way ‘Comizi d’amore’ does, as Hayes gathers groups of children to ask the question: “Where do babies come from?”
Shot over one week in Provincetown, Massachusetts, all of the participants in Hayes’ video are the children of queer or gender nonconforming parents. The work is composed of interviews with two age groups: 5-8 year olds and young adults. Similar to those in Pasolini’s interviews, the young children on screen produce delightfully fragmented answers that mix imagination, fantasy, and words they repeat from things adults have said to them.
The young adults on the opposite screen, are deeply experienced with the narrative of their families and their births, most of them having had to account for their families repeatedly over the two and three decades of their lives. These interviews share detailed perspectives on their complex family histories and their position and role in the quickly evolving political and juridical landscape for queer people, and by extension queer child rearing, in the United States.
Come out!, 2019
Acrylic paint and newspaper on textile
110 x 154,5 cm
43.3 x 60.83 “
Hayes’ most recent work in the exhibition is ‘Come out!’. Facing the wall, this protest banner is hung back to front to inverse its slogan, which bleeds through the fabric. Scraps of a layer of newspaper – presumably used as a drop cloth – are stuck to the paint on what is now the front of the banner. Collected during the week of 15 June 2019, snippets of still recent news items can be made out, creating a fragmented snapshot of our current cultural moment.
'Come Out!' was a magazine published by The Gay Liberation Front. GLF, a multi-issue radical political liberation movement, existed from 1969-1973, coalescing in the aftermath of the Stonewall Uprising. The GLF often used the magazine as a recruitment tool, and something like a megaphone and a protest banner.
Sharon Hayes is one of the most influential politically and socially committed artists working in the United States. She has been the subject of retrospectives at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; and currently at Moderna Museet, Stockholm (on view until 11 August 2019). Hayes’ work is part of the public collections of Tate, London; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Dallas Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Kunstmuseum St. Gallen; Museum of Modern Art Warsaw, Warsaw; among many others.
Sharon Hayes lives and works in Philadelphia, where she holds the position of Associate Professor of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania.
26 April 2019
An ongoing curated project with artists, designers, ceramicists and florists
Paris Internationale 2019
17 – 20 October 2019
Preview: 16 October 2019
Throwback Jack, group show curated by Amanda Schmitt, Fredericks & Freiser Gallery, New York, NY
20 June – 26 July 2019
David Diao, 2018
Delmonico books — Prestel
With contributions from Philip Tinari, Michael Corris, Pi Li, Sarah K. Rich, Felicia Chen, Kerry Doran
Recipient of the 2019 Arnaldo Pomodoro Sculpture Prize
Solo exhibition opens in Fall 2019
Galleria d'Arte Moderna, Milan
Phaidon Contemporary Artist Series
Text by Julia Bryan-Wilson, Jeannine Tang, and Lanka Tattersall
Travelling Exhibitions Programme of 33rd Bienal de São Paulo
Campinas, Recife, Medellín (Colômbia)
March 2019–January 2020
Fondazione Morra Greco, Naples
Feminist Avant-Garde of the 1970s. Works from the VERBUND COLLECTION, Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, Spain
19 July – 1 December 2019
Maskulinitäten Bonner Kunstverein, Kölnischer Kunstverein und Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf
1 September – 24 November 2019
Tanya Leighton is delighted to announce that the Museum of Modern Art, New York has acquired Marianne Wex's Let's Take Back Our Space: 'Female' and 'Male' Body Language as a Result of Patriarchal Structures, 1977
Tanya Leighton Gallery, Berlin, established in 2008, is dedicated to developing a cross-disciplinary, trans-generational gallery programme with off-site projects, in collaboration with artists, filmmakers, critics, art historians, and curators. Its international exhibition programme reflects a variety of opinions and practices as well as Leighton’s associations with American and British experimental cinema, artist’s film and video, performance, minimal and conceptual art.
Director: Simon Gowing
Director: Patrick Armstrong
Project Manager: Marie Egger
Interim Gallery Manager: Melanie Isabel García
Registrar: Henry Babbage
Finance Manager: Stefan Schuster
Tanya Leighton GmbH
Kurfürstenstraße 156 & 24/25
Open Tuesday – Saturday
11am – 6pm and by appointment
19 September – 15 November 2015, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing
The Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) is proud to announce the solo exhibition David Diao, running from 19 September to 15 November, 2015. The retrospective brings together 115 artworks drawn from collections spanning North America, Europe, and Asia, the artist’s largest exhibition to date. Born in Chengdu in 1943, David Diao left mainland China for Hong Kong in 1949, later settling in America where he has lived for nearly six decades.
His early work is profoundly influenced by the New York School of abstract painting. Starting from this exceptional moment in art history, he gradually transformed this authoritative aesthetic tradition by extending its language to individual experience. The painterly narratives that underpin his work—reflections on how we evaluate the modern masters, systems of artistic production, identity, and memories of his family and his ancestral home—have come to characterize a unique mode of symbolic signification.
Throughout his career, David Diao has shown a profound interest in the history of abstraction. From the 1960s until the late 70s, Diao sought to build on and break through the complex theoretical foundation laid by his artistic predecessors. Diao looked to the formal language of abstract painting, reflecting on and revising the predominant aesthetic discourses through his work. In works like Wealth of Nations (1972), Diao repurposed cardboard tubes discarded by garment factories as tools to apply paint to the canvas, disempowering superficial notions of the “aura” of the artist’s brushstroke. He would paint over the bilateral canvas again and again until arriving at a satisfactory result—a working method at odds with the Greenbergian painting principles that were taken as consensus at the time. By naming abstract paintings after well-known books and movies in lieu of the standard “Untitled,” Diao referenced objects external to the picture plane, a practice verboten in doctrinaire formalism that would inevitably risk being labeled kitsch.
From the late 1970s to the early 1980s, Diao took a brief hiatus, partly due to what the artist felt was an unresolvable crisis facing abstraction and formalism. It was at this time that Diao abandoned entirely self-referential artworks, incorporating narrative as a thematic buttress to the painting’s composition. The 1984 work Glissement, which appears in this exhibition, is a landmark piece from this period. Based on a renowned photograph of Kazimir Malevich’s landmark presentation in “The Last Futurist Exhibition of Paintings 0.10,” Diao overlays the paintings that comprised this spatial installation onto a single, compressed canvas. Diao’s fluid sense of time and space sits at odds with Malevich’s rejection of figurative reproduction, even as they both pursue extreme flattening in two-dimensional art. Writing in Artforum, renowned critic Thomas Lawson said of this piece, “With the work Glissement, [David Diao] reinvented his practice as a droll examination of shifting realities in art, history and personal experience.” Himself an adroit observer of modernist art, Diao began to see art and the history that surrounds it as a game, as something to be engaged in contest. In the Little Suprematist Prisons, Diao attempts to reconcile the formal styles of Kazimir Malevich and Robert Motherwell in the same compositions, putting the two painters into a putative conversation. Though often considered within the same modernist tradition, Russian abstract art, once at the forefront of European abstract painting, was largely dismissed in Clement Greenberg’s Cold War-tinged narrative of formalism. Similarly, in Tree (1988) Diao writes the names of several modern artists on the sprawling geometry of Malevich’s Suprematism (Supremus #50) as if it were a broken genealogy of European abstract art, relationships of influence in disarray.
Other works address the systems that support art, in particular institutions tasked with critically evaluating artists. Most prominent among these is a series of canvases based on the art of Barnett Newman, one of Diao’s artistic idols. In 1990 Diao read that in his 27-year career, Newman only painted 120 artworks in the style for which he was known. Fascinated by the disparity between Newman’s enormous influence and relative paucity of works, Diao began to research various metrics related to Newman’s output, displaying this information in a series of graphical paintings. These seemingly “abstract” paintings suggest that quantitative measures of an artist’s practice amount to nothing more than trivial bits of information, immaterial to the true value of art. At the time he was making these works, Diao was also over twenty years into his own career, prompting him to consider his life and work with Newman’s as an implicit foil. In Résumé (1991), the artist depicts his complete exhibition history as a series of lists by year; in the same vein, he also began incorporating other aspects of his career—studio floor plans, sales records, positive and negative reviews—into his artworks. The banal realities that underlie the life of the artist are thus transformed into a language of symbols. In doing so he deconstructs the romantic notion of the artist as solitary genius, replacing it with the banal realities of a career with its ups and downs. The exhibition’s Chinese title is in part inspired by the artwork David Diao: A Retrospective (Chinese) (1995), one of a series of paintings of ”invitations” to imaginary exhibitions at major institutions including MoMA and the Centre Pompidou.
Other works from the 1990s engage directly with then-current conversations around multiculturalism and identity politics. In pieces such as Twin Dragons (1999) and The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1994), Diao mobilizes imagery including film stills of Bruce Lee (considered by Diao “the most famous Asian man in American culture”) and the Swedish actor Nils Asther playing a Shanghai warlord in a 1933 Hollywood film. In Pardon Me, Your Chinoiserie is Showing (1993), he makes a textual image from a riposte to a leading French curator’s misguided comment during a meeting that “you’re not really a Chinese artist.”
Since the mid-2000s, Diao’s art has taken a more autobiographical tack. Faced with his first solo exhibition in Beijing in 2008, and understanding that local audiences might not be as familiar with the modernist histories he often addresses, Diao artist decided to meet them halfway by using his childhood home—the Da Hen Li House in Chengdu—as the subject of a major cycle of paintings. For this project, Diao interviewed several of his family members now living in the U.S., turning their (often conflicting) recollections and other supplementary materials into a group of paintings that implicitly concedes the impossibility of objective truth, particularly where memory is concerned. In his most recent works, Diao depicts memories of his childhood in Hong Kong, where he lived on Chatham Road in Tsim Sha Tsui from 1949 to 1955. With these paintings, Diao, one of the most introspective contemporary artists to emerge in the past few decades, connects his practice to the artistic ecology of China.