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
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.