There's a sidewalk inside this gut
26 October – 20 December 2019, Tanya Leighton, Berlin
Preview: Friday, 25 October 7–9 pm
Tanya Leighton is pleased to present ‘There’s a sidewalk inside this gut’, Gerasimos Floratos’ first solo exhibition in Germany.
Gerasimos used to work the night shift. Around 1:00am, maybe, he started tripping in the shop, and smoking spliffs in the basement, waiting to go out. Sometimes he’d be there making coffee for the customers and would start to feel something magical, to see constellations of building lights swirling around his head like halos; ‘Times Square Mysticism,’ he calls it. This was in Hell’s Kitchen, where he’s lived his whole life and where all of his characters come from. His characters are annoying, obnoxious, contradictory sweethearts. That won’t shut up, that seem kind of mad, all these clowns and maniacs on every corner, everywhere you turn. The old lady shouting at you in the hallway. Your neighbours. All these different sorts of people just trying to live their lives and get through their days. Floratos draws every day. He’s been drawing these grumpy, loudmouth characters ever since he was little boy. He imagines New York City as a great churning digestive tract consuming everything that enters, grinding everything down, turning it into ... crap, energy, inspiration, good feelings, bad feelings. His figures are squished and contorted. Jumbled together like guts; like intestines, constantly rotating, changing direction, packed tighter and tighter inside each other. Now more and more figures are layered on top. He likes to paint over collages of his drawings and works everything up into an overwhelming hallucinatory mess; which is just how it feels like in Midtown sometimes (most of the time). You’re walking down the street and you’re screaming on the inside. “Fuck awffff” shout the drawings in the background. New York’s a collection of mouths and assholes that will never quite shut. The city’s anxiety, temptation, overstimulation, hyperactivity, desire, delight. The city’s full of mouths and chews you right up. There’s a sidewalk inside this gut.
Floratos is painting inside the belly of the beast. He’s built his own little paradise under the sidewalk. Literally under the sidewalk; in the basement of the old Hit Factory on 48th Street where he’s made himself a studio that extends right down under the street. In the evening rush hour when everybody else is leaving work, he hears them clacking and tapping and thumping overhead. Next door there’s a dance studio that’s also a Broadway rehearsal room so he can always hear clapping and singing and dancing around the clock; pure energy coming down through the walls and the ceilings, pushing in from every side. He’s down there painting New York from the inside, crumpled up inside its colon, painting paintings over paintings over drawings and spinning his canvases around and around.
2 November – 20 December 2019, Tanya Leighton, Berlin
Tanya Leighton is pleased to announce a project with Japanese artist Hiroka Yamashita – marking the first time her work has been exhibited in Europe.
Yamashita’s paintings toe a line between figuration and abstraction, and observation and invention. The figures that dot her compositions are often sketched atop bodies of water, or fields of long grass. The interaction between humans and the natural world is a recurring theme, as Yamashita’s subjects reveal the traditions and methods through which society shapes its environment. There are seafaring groups pushing a dingy past a moonlit ridge, others admire cherry blossoms from behind a bright orange fence or dance beneath falling bougainvillea. A fresh catch of netted fish floats above a sorbet coloured ground.
The inventive compositions in which these interplays unfold do not refer to actual space, but rather a layered assemblage of architecture and manicured gardens, interspersed with abstraction. Occasionally, the ostensible subject of a painting is occluded by looming brushwork – giving the sensation of peering through fog or past branches. In other paintings, the ground on which a scene unfolds is little more than a vague coastline or horizon. This tension between density and oblivion calls attention to the ultimately unpredictable relationship between ourselves and our environment.
Art Basel Miami Beach
5 – 8 December 2019
Preview: 3 – 5 December
At Kurfürstenstraße 156
Until 20 December 2019
Christine Roland & Ruby Barber
At Kurfürstenstraße 156
Until 20 December 2019
Il Ritmo dello Spazio, curated by Stavros Katsanevas
Museo della Grafica, Pisa
12 October – 8 December 2019
Genealogías del Arte
Fundación Juan March & Museo Picasso Málaga
11 October 2019 – 12 January 2020
Bauhaus: Utopia in Crisis, curated by Professor Daniel Sturgis, Bauhaus University, Weimar
Opening January 2020
David Diao, 2018
Delmonico books — Prestel
With contributions from Philip Tinari, Michael Corris, Pi Li, Sarah K. Rich, Felicia Chen, Kerry Doran
Phaidon Contemporary Artist Series
Text by Julia Bryan-Wilson, Jeannine Tang, and Lanka Tattersall
MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main, curated by Susanne Pfeffer with Anna Sailer
17 August 2019 – 16 February 2020
Out Of Order. Positions from the Haubrok Collection (Part I)
Neues Museum Nürnberg
25 October 2019 – 6 January 2020
Travelling Exhibitions Programme of 33rd Bienal de São Paulo
Museo de Antioquia, Medellín, Colombia
21 November 2019 – 26 January 2020
Infinite Sculpture: From the Antique Cast to the 3D Scan
Co-produced by the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisboa and the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris
3 December 2019 – 16 February 2020
Beethoven – World.Citizen.Music Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn
17 December 2019 – 26 April 2020
...and other such stories
Chicago Architecture Biennial
19 September 2019 – 5 January 2020
Migrating Worlds: the Art of the Moving Image in Britain
Yale Centre for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
3 October – 29 December 2019
Screening A State of Grace
Exground International Film Festival, Wiesbaden, Germany
15 – 24 November 2019
Screening Slow Glass and The Black Tower
Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, Spain
30 January 2020
A Gust of Wind (in the Low and Dark Rooms)
Fondazione Morra Greco, Naples
19 December 2019 – 22 February 2020
Feminist Avant-Garde of the 1970s. Works from the VERBUND COLLECTION, Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, Spain
19 July – 1 December 2019
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
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.