Melissa Gordon, Playboy Cacophony (detail), 2008, acrylic on canvas, 210 x 190 cm, Copyright the artist

G2: New Acquisitions


G2 is celebrating their second birthday and we are the ones getting a present. Their new show, New Acquisitions, opens today.

When I walked into the central space at G2, I was very pleased to see that Stefan Guggisberg’s Nabel was one of the new pieces recently added to the Hildebrand Collection. You may remember me talking about it before. It was part of the Through a glass, clearly exhibition with Stefan Guggisberg and Sebastian Burger.

I was immediately drawn to it for so many reasons. The piece is an immense expanse of blues, with moments shaved and left to float on the surface like cherry blossom petals. Or is the blue expanse infinite and the objects floating in space?

I spoke to the Swiss-born artist who now lives in Leipzig. We talked of the cosmos and how the alternate reality of having a new born had influenced the work.

He explained that there had to be a new technique created for mounting such a massive (300 x 370 cm) oil on paper work. The entire piece is adhered to a sheet of aluminum. It is just as fascinating up close as it is from far away.

Installation view: Through a Glass, Clearly , a two person exhibition by Sebastian Burger and Stefan Guggisberg, September 9, 2016 – January 15, 2017, G2 Kunsthalle, Leipzig (Germany). photo: © the artists & G2 Kunsthalle Leipzig

Not only was I happy it was there, but it was interesting to see it in a new constellation with new references. Once again, thanks to director Anka Ziefer, the hanging at G2 is so well thought through, and yet subtle, that you might not even notice if you didn’t think about doing so. From any position in the space, you can feel like a point in a triangle of connection.

To find the connection to Nabel, you just have to look down. At first glance you think this is a piece made of bits of lino, but closer consideration shows it is steel.

Daniel Steegmann Mangrané is interested in technology, but he’s also interested in our world, the geometry and connectedness of it. For SG Floor #17a, he heat-treated a sheet of steel. He then had it precision laser cut to specification.

Once in situ, the pieces are reassembled in a new way, according to his diagram. This tearing apart and coming back together creates new unions and exposes slight distortions created during the process. We can come through anything as long as we are open to change and accepting of what some would deem flaws.

Rirkrit Tiravanija, Untitled 2016 (freedom cannot be simulated, thai news, august 20, 2015) 2016, oil and newspaper on linen, 217 x 79 cm, Copyright/courtesy the artist & neugerriemschneider, Berlin

One of the themes we cannot escape, especially at this time in history, is a political one. Rirkrit Tiravanija makes a statement that softens the blow as it makes time and place irrelevant. Yes, he’s right. Freedom cannot be simulated.

This is something best learned by living and engaging with other cultures.

He was born in Argentina and raised in Thailand, Ethiopia and Canada. That is a pretty diverse learning ground. He continued on, studying in Chicago and New York.

Since the 90s, his work has encouraged social engagement. We are invited to read these papers. Although many of us won’t understand the words, we can still look at the photos and draw conclusions influenced by his message.

Just across the room there is a photograph. You may have even seen this image, which was commissioned by BILD. Even if you haven’t, you will no doubt recognise (left to right) Mikhail Gorbachev, Helmut Kohl and George Bush. The photo was shot in 2009, when leaders met on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Wall.

Photographer Andreas Mühe was not in the habit of taking photographic commissions from BILD, but he knew this was a moment of great importance. He knew it then and he knows it now. That’s probably why he donated it, one of only three artist proofs, to the charity auction where it was purchased.

Andreas Mühe, Mühe für Diekmann, 2009, Museo Silver Rag Print, 80 x 60 cm / 31 1/2 x 23 2/5 in, Edition 5 + 3 AP, Copyright / Courtesy the artist & carlier | gebauer, Berlin / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017

With countries moving toward isolation, Gorbachev is now worried there’s a war on the horizon. It’s no wonder, with Monica Crowley as Trump’s idea of a good candidate for senior director of strategic communications for the National Security Council. She has a PhD in International Relations from Columbia University. If her knowledge of the Berlin Wall is anything to go by, the plagiarism accusations ring true and we are in bigger trouble than we think.

And that brings me to something I’m really excited about. I am so impressed that the Hildebrand Collection is participating in the current language of art. Anne Imhof’s oT Falcon Stand is from a recent piece called Angst that she describes as “opera”.

I say “piece” because that includes the entirety of it all. It took place in several rooms with performers on call. She would send them texts with instructions. Did they know in advance? Did she? I don’t know, but I am intrigued and that’s what I should be.

Anne Imhof, o T Falcon Stand, 2016, steel acrylic on leather, 134 x 120 x 91 cm, courtesy the artist & Galerie Buchholz Berlin

Intrigue captivates and that’s the point at which the wild thing is controlled, or at least seems to be controlled. Humans, live falcons, drones, a swimming pool filled with half water, half Pepsi: all under the direction of Anne Imhof.

There are many more and I could go on and on. There’s work by Jochen Plogsties (post coming soon from recent interview in which he reveals his obsession with polygons), Judith Bernstein (who is inspired by the graffiti on men’s bathroom walls), Nicolás Guagnini (who thinks anyone who thinks artists don’t work is sorely mistaken), Jeanette Mundt (who combines items like a time traveler), and and and.

You can see all these works for yourself at today’s opening at G2 Kunsthalle.

New Aquisitions and some of the permanent collection are on display. I won’t name drop. I’ll just say this is undeniably the best collection of New Leipzig School and contemporary art available for public viewing in the area. I am delighted to be able to watch the Hildebrand collection as it grows and develops.

New Acquisitions
Hildebrand Collection
Opening 1 Feb 3.00-8.00 pm

G2 Kunsthalle, Dittrichring 13, 04109 Leipzig, Germany

Exhibition opening hours:
1 February – 7 May 2017
Wed 3.00-8.00 pm
Guided tours:
German Thur-Sun 11.00 am
English Sun 4.00 pm and Mon 12.00 noon
online booking required
admission 5/3€

Feature photo: detail from London-based American artist Melissa Gordon, who draws inspiration from political cartoons to expose what’s underneath.

Melissa Gordon, Playboy Cacophony (detail), 2008, acrylic on canvas, 210 x 190 cm, Copyright the artist

Artist, curator and writer: maeshelle west-davies gleans her varied life experiences to expose a personal perspective through a multitude of mediums.

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