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
13 October – 17 November 2018, Tanya Leighton, Berlin
Tanya Leighton is pleased to announce ‘Kin’, a solo exhibition of new paintings by Chinese-American artist David Diao, whose pioneering approach to painting has pushed the medium into new territory over the past five decades. This is Diao’s second solo exhibition at the gallery and his first since 2009.
We are also delighted to announce the upcoming release of Diao's new monograph published by Prestel. The book accompanies his solo exhibition at the Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art in Beijing in marking the first full-scale retrospective of Diao’s practice. It includes new essays by Philip Tinari, Michael Corris, Pi Li, Sarah K Rich, Felicia Chen and Kerry Doran.
After making important contributions to the movements of colour field painting and geometric abstraction in the late 1960s and 1970s, Diao grew increasingly critical of the medium, reducing his output and reconsidering the ability of painting to communicate meaning. When he again began exhibiting his works in the mid-1980s, they had markedly shifted – taking up major movements and figures in 20th century art as subjects, probing the inspiration they provided to Diao as well as his proximity to them. This conceptual and self-reflexive approach has been a central feature of Diao’s paintings since, growing to include the artist’s personal history. His methodology results in paintings that employ text, iconography, reproductions, charts and diagrams. These elements of visualised information are reclaimed by painting, as Diao employs them to compositional ends as well as communicative. His work slyly operates on two levels: didactic and painterly, occupying both with the resolve that painting can tackle concepts far outside of the medium itself.
The eight paintings featured in ‘Kin’ explore various meanings of the word. The most literal, Maternal Grandfather’s Book 2, 2017, reproduces pages from a treatise on ethics that was written by the artist’s grandfather. Yin Changheng was a powerful man, albeit one of complicated ethics, and Diao’s narrative does not attempt to revise any of this history, only to re-present it. The artist remembers meeting his grandfather as a child, but only learned about his life in depth while visiting his mother in China after 30 years spent outside of the country. Yin Changheng was hailed as a revolutionary hero who played a role in defeating the Qing dynasty and then went on to quell a Tibetan revolution for independence. This imperialist family history is complicated by Diao’s own history, in which he fled mainland China to Hong Kong as a six year old and eventually settled in New York at age 12.
Another painting on view, Seal 2, is emblazoned with the stamped Chinese characters that translate to, "Let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend.” These lines of verse lent their name to a short lived campaign of debate initiated by Mao Zedong in 1956 in which intellectuals, students and everyday citizens of China were encouraged to share their critiques of the communist regime. This moment of critical discourse was short lived as Mao subsequently interned many of those who spoke out in prison labour camps.
Seal 2, along with two other paintings in the exhibition, borrows the sweeping arcs of the Russian artist and designer El Lissitzky’s. Lissitzky famously broke with his Constructivist colleagues over his use of three dimensional space and references to architecture – signaling a world of objects and relationships outside of art for art’s sake. Diao continues this theme by pairing Lissitzky’s curves with emblems and ciphers of those that followed Lissitzky but who preceded Diao, building a century-long narrative arc and associatively coupling formal elements into new compositions. The logo of the famous, modernist furniture manufacturer Herman Miller can be seen in one painting and a birds eye view of Marcel Breuer’s acclaimed UNESCO headquarters in another.
Beyond his personal history, Modernism can equally be seen as kin to Diao. The movement has given his work a foundation and Diao places himself within the artistic lineage begun in the early 20th century. References to his artistic predecessors are abundant in the exhibition, with nearly every painting in the show borrowing a technique, motif or image from the previous century of art and design. Two of Gerrit Rietveld’s iconic chairs appear as deconstructed collages – their component parts depicted at half scale and used to compose abstractions through the chance procedures favoured by Jean Arp.
For all of this complex family history, Diao’s work remains enlivened by its predecessors. These citations are treated as welcome interlopers, not burdensome or dogmatic forebears. And while absolutism played a large role in the art, architecture and politics that Diao looks to for inspiration, his own work celebrates the pluralism, complexity and ever-changing narrative that give meaning to our past and present.
David Diao was born in Chengdu, China. His work has been shown extensively in the US, Europe, and Asia, with recent exhibitions including ShanghART Beijing; Postmasters Gallery, New York; Office Baroque, Brussels and Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing.