7 September – 19 October 2019, Tanya Leighton, Berlin
Preview: 6 September, 7-9 pm
Tanya Leighton is pleased to present ‘Fabula Rasa’ — a group exhibition that investigates the literary form of the fable from six artistic positions. Recognising the blend of animate and inanimate objects that lays at the core of fables, ‘Fabula Rasa’ focuses on the potential of this interplay to critically reflect the human condition.
The exhibition title is a word play on the concept of the clean slate or ‘tabula rasa’. Life begins without knowledge and lived experience grows our understanding of the world. As much as fables relay shared memories and moral values, they also offer a way to recalibrate ourselves. The works in the exhibition propose perspectives from which to do so.
Sam Anderson’s interest in the dramaturgical narratives of everyday life often leads her to the recast characters that traditionally play set roles. In this case, the tragic-comic figure of the clown, a figure who both entertains and critiques society, is her subject. Both an outsider and an integral part of a community, the classic humorist tells fables of everyday life to question the ways we live together. This ‘clown’, however, is a fabulous and somewhat menacing caricature of itself — a replica dolphin scull, masked with a teardrop, a red nose, and a row of teeth so long it is hard to discern a smile or a grimace.
Antonio Ballester Moreno’s pictographic paintings are distillations of the fundamental ways in which humanity defines itself in relation to the larger world — knowledge, morality and the nature of being. Ballester Moreno’s geometric forms and palette of primary colours speak to an archaic image-memory, exploring what it actually means to be humane. Trees, mountains, moons and suns constitute a universal lexicon while echoing the building blocks of the ancient fable.
The hand-painted animation by Matt Copson introduces archetypal figures from European mythologies into a dystopian limbo. Here, a headless fox circles a maniacally self-obsessed woodpecker whose monologue details a compulsion to define the object of its love. As an allegory for the artist at work or sociopathic manoeuvring, Copson’s parable delivers an unsettling moral about how we relate to the world around us.
Notions of physical malady recur in the work of Jesse Darling. A winding crutch and a bent walking stick emerge like charmed snakes from an altar-like pedestal that floats above the ground. Part of Darling’s larger project, ‘The Ballad of Saint Jerome’, this sculpture retools the eponymous fable to examine the contemporary relationship between healer and healed.
Michael Dean’s sculptures begin in the realm of language – as a means of expressing love, anger, or grasping for understanding. In their translation from text to thing, Dean’s objects and icons become stand-ins for larger narratives. Considering what it means to create a physical extension of oneself, Dean’s concrete and rebar sculptures are human-scaled, bear traces of their making, and introduce new anthropomorphous characters into the exhibition space.
Staring into space through hollow eyes, the vacant, thinking and feeling figure by Austrian artist Heinz Frank is a residue of a body in distress. Part tree, part box, part mask and part spine, its anatomy consists of natural and artificial components that deconstruct the impressive mythical figure of the lion to an assemblage of objects — some quotidian, some bizarre.
17 – 20 October 2019
Preview: 16 October
'Christine Roland & Ruby Barber'
Hiroka Yamashita Kurfürstenstraße 156
Bauhaus: Utopia in Crisis, curated by Professor Daniel Sturgis
Camberwell Space, Camberwell College of Arts (forthcoming)
16 September – 9 November 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 at Galleria d'Arte Moderna, Milan
11 November 2019 – 5 January 2020
Phaidon Contemporary Artist Series
Text by Julia Bryan-Wilson, Jeannine Tang, and Lanka Tattersall
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
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
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
Frieze, 7 November 2017
For those who take epithets to heart, Math Bass’s friendly-seeming paintings at Tanya Leighton might’ve seemed laced with bitter irony. Each of Bass’s graphic gouaches is called Newz! (all works 2017): the peppy ‘z!’ making a perversely zesty backbeat over a word that, of late, has tended to presage dispiriting information. This comic attention to letters links the works to their collective title; the pictures have less to do with the disasters and misfortunes local to Fox, BBC and MSNBC than cartoon alligators, white bones doubling as speech bubbles and other animate shapes.
These entities snap life into eight mostly square and rectangular canvases, whose bare fabric serves as ground. Often, the pictures are twinned, with repeated shapes subtly modulated; I imagined these works being compare-and-contrast exercises for precocious Waldorf children, designed to model principles of general and particular. In one, a red cone sits on the canvas’s bottom edge, rounded tip meeting upper boundary; in another, the same shape has inexplicably shrunk. Next to both hangs a white speech bubble. Inside, the letter ‘Z’ suggests that the cones are snoozing. But while one ‘Z’ is wavy and calligraphic, the other is starched sans-serif, doubled to form a punchy zigzag.
With these works, Bass hits the sweet spot almost too squarely, achieving a layered palatableness that nearly erases the knots, conflicts and enigmas that make the best artworks burn slowly. Here, visual escapism blends seamlessly with historical erudition: post-painterly abstraction, sophisticated modernist design. Meanwhile, the artist's mimicking of repetitious yet shape-shifting language delivers high-minded memories of Gertrude Stein, and the more recent L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets. Result: the paintings are nearly impossible to dislike, unless you come to bristle at their exact orchestration, in content and form. Excepting a brushy bloom of smoke emitting from three domino-like cigarettes in one Newz painting, the works are disturbed by nary a drip or flubbed edge.
All of which brings us to the question of Bass's relationship to the mores that govern good behaviour: middle-class life on the one hand, and critically aware contemporary art on the other. While these paintings risk an allegiance with lifestyle products of ‘good taste’, they also display a healthy disregard for the dictum that good art risks failure. In recent years, the veneer of risk, as performed aesthetic vulnerability, has become such a reliable artistic strategy as to feel like a new strain of conservatism. In contrast, Bass's sometimes too-reliable procedures give unassuming expression to surprising phenomena, such as the rhythms of seeing and speaking that usually remain unremarked upon in day-to-day life.
Across Kurfürstenstrasse, in the second half of Leighton’s two-building gallery, Bass makes symbolic room for the bodies that often seem to come along for the ride, while our heads go about witnessing and decoding art. Three sculptures (all Crowd Rehearsal, 2017) are comprised of canvas constructions, brightly painted in gouache and placed on structures: a canary raincoat over a black easel, a cream pant leg over a birch ironing board, a mysterious black and white pall over a red mass, revealed by knifed slits, all atop a low cerulean platform. I couldn’t take my eyes off of these bright simulations of banal items. They have the defiant magnetism of things transitioning from useful to used up: the psychedelic leaves outside my window, the spotting banana just inside it: a romantic thought, maybe, but here a well-founded one. Far from being dismissed in Bass’s new work, language and thinking are given an echo, adequate to their weird physical facticity.
9 September – 21 October 2017, Tanya Leighton, Berlin
This time, it was a speech bubble. With each new set of her "NEWZ!" paintings, I like to study the one or few new forms that emerge have always been there. She found a speech bubble revealed its absence by carving the shape of doorway from that of a bone.
Math Bass has built unraveled the "NEWZ!" series by making a grammar out of negative space. Often, forms emerge not through their presence but rather through what's withdrawn from view. I try to follow backtrack from A to B to Z. Math told me the quotation mark she uses came from is just the nostril of her often-featured alligator. (You won't find the quote in this show, but you'll get the gator's jaws). From nostril to quotation mark, a shape becomes another by not changing at all. Here,a cavity becomes language words congeal around a void.
The operation making sense out of absence makes me think about all the visceral abstractions I wade through: like gender, like value. How they work by circulation and repetition, like a kingdom of dominoes. How they concretize bodies like concrete poured in jeans by evacuating meaning like limp canvas sleeves. What is gender, what is value, besides an appearance of coherence after the fact of fabrication? And from Rob Halpern what is a body besides "a hole around which everything that appears, appears to cohere"?
I think about all the visceral abstractions wrapped around me: like value, like gender grand discourses of cash and cum. How being abstract doesn't make them any less real ly able to immiserate and kill. How they take their place among our many integuments – not just the rind, but the pith, not just the pith, but the membrane around each bit of pulp. How we grow into their architectures stretched canvas gym mat, or their folds the way unsewn hems appear to have been flayed, or need them to prop ourselves up on this is the staircase's teeth. Meanwhile, the metaphors of condensation and coagulation are all I Sianne Ngai have left to describe their work shrines to an aftermath presented as the present.
Playing dumb Los Angeles artist I watch turn my head as one object becomes another by not changing at all from N to W to Z (!). The grammar of negative space manages to articulate difference out of more of the same. How can language stand in for what's unsaid? Maybe negative space is another way of referring to tone: the work the body does around the words. Maybe negative space is the body itself a hole, a void, a wound defined by its vulnerability to penetration, definition. Maybe these speech bubbles aren't speech bubbles after all, but rather a kind of catachresis for the loss that speechlessness itself can't articulate, or the hollow in the marrow. In dominoes, a single tile is called a bone.
— Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal
In her first exhibition at Tanya Leighton, Math Bass presents a series of new large-scale paintings and sculptures. The show spans both gallery spaces at 156 Kurfürstenstrasse and 24/25 Kurfürstenstrasse. This will be the artist's first solo exhibition in Europe.