press release

Simply put, the inhabited grid has become the irreducible sign of the world we live in today. DanCameron

While Mondrian strived to finish his last work, Victory Boogie Woogie, endlessly repainting over the surface of the canvas, he realized that the end of WWII might have been at hand, but that his own war with geometric abstraction was to continue, its fierceness unabated. The sense of disquiet and confusion generated by developments on the scene of 1944 politics was such that the painter would not manage to finish the work, or provide an answer to the question of the grid, leaving instead the battle to be fought and won, or lost for that matter, by artists in the next generation.

As I began to recruit the ‘fighters’ that would take part in ME(N)TAL, I decided that they would have to come from places where the political and economic fabric of society has unequivocally been disrupted, so that they would be familiar with a sort of ‘do-or-die’ strategy. Only then would they be worthy of recruitment into this elite corps. Of course, the irony of the whole endeavour is, precisely, that these artists have been nurtured by technology and digital media (in other words, media based on the notion of the network), even though this may not be readily apparent in their (com-)plex-like (com-)positions. Not even the most die-hard of dreamers can any longer hold on to the illusion of freedom/autonomy, which was proven to be just that as early as 1930, when the newly invented electronic microscope showed the human brain to be a hyper-network of neurons and synapses, subsequently called (rather humorously) the ‘autonomic nervous system’… How can one then disentangle oneself from such a ‘mesh’ as an artist?

Participating artists include:

ΤΟRΒΕΝ GIEHLER Giehler presents recent work, continuing his investigations into the notion of the landscape. He no longer seems to be concerned with the sort of patterns inhabiting his earlier work, which explored image aesthetics by means of flight simulators and CAD programs. He now focuses on a series of experiments with three-dimensionality, attempting an approach of structures that are decidedly more abstract. Although his works have a ‘hi-tech’, ‘artificial’ quality, almost as if his painting were a computer-mediated process, it’s worth noting that Giehler actually paints directly on the canvas. He has recently been awarded the Falkenrot-Prize.

MICHAEL BEVILACQUA Bevilacqua’s paintings are a distillation of pop culture icons and landmarks: from Kurt Cobain’s suicide to the stylistic extravaganza of Fischerspooner and on to Michael Jackson’s transformations. Nevertheless, his recent work has a pronounced gestural quality, appearing to be breaking away from the slick, dense grid of pop iconography. His visual language becomes more immediate while shedding some of its smoothness, as it turns a more sincere eye to current socioeconomic realities: a weary youth in tatters, empty bottles, bare electric bulbs, juvenile gangs.

DOUG MELINI There is a curious sense of anxiety to his beautiful compositions that often deceive the eye with flashes of three-dimensional delight. Melini develops the minutest surfaces of colour setting them in even more minute grids with unwavering dedication. Surely, this must be how top quality antidepressants act upon the brain and its network of neurons. The artist himself comments: “My large-scale paintings aim at conveying the sense of confusion originating in optical illusion and ending in a shopping spree”.

DANIEL SUBKOFF The resourceful Daniel Subkoff employs painting and sculpture to formulate proposals that he then combines in his visual installations. He uses the canvas as a field of sculptural action, breaking it up and sculpturally manipulating parts of it so that they may develop into space. Subkoff himself notes: "Instead of covering and stifling the great nothingness of the blank canvas, I allow it a life of it's own".

SHOPLIFTER At the moment, she is considered the most promising artist to have recently emerged on the New York art scene. She transformed the façade of MoMa, NY (in collaboration with Assume Vivid Astro Focus) into a colourful mesh of braided synthetic hair, an installation titled aimez vous avec ferveur. In ME(N)TAL she presents a six-meter-long installation referencing, in her own words, “the bittersweet trap of the futile and the vain”. The fact that the artist is a native of recently crashed Iceland lends additional gravity to this work.

MIKA TAJIMA She was one of the stars of this year’s Whitney Biennial. Her creative practice usually involves the destruction of spaces, in a manner so special that even Mondrian or Sol Le Witt would envy her for it. She participates in the show with Grass Grows Forever in Every Possible Direction, a video first presented at the Walker Art Center. As the artist herself claims: “We are surrounded 24 hours a day. Above our heads and below our feet networks intertwine, delineating different units of space and time”.

Participating artists will be present at the exhibition’s opening. The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue.

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Künstler: Michael Bevilacqua, Torben Giehler, Doug Melini, Shoplifter , Daniel Subkoff, Mika Tajima

Kurator: Dimitrios Antonitsis