CARSTEN HOLLER | MASSIMO DE CARLO
Carsten Holler, Baby Giraffe, 2016, MDC
Carsten Höller was born in 1961 in Brussels, Belgium to German parents. Institutional exhibitions include the 50th Biennale di Venezia (2003); “One Day One Day,” Färgfabriken, Stockholm (2003); 7th Biennale de Lyon (2003); “Half Fiction,” Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2003); “7,8 Hz,” Le Consortium, Dijon (2004); “Une exposition à Marseille,” Musée d’Art Contemporain, Marseille (2004); 51st Biennale di Venezia (2005); “Test Site,” Tate Modern, London (2006); “Amusement Park,” MASS MoCA, Massachusetts (2006); “Carrousel,” Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2008); “The Double Club,” Fondazione Prada, London (2008); 28th Bienal de São Paulo (2008); “Double Slide,” Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb (2009); 53rd Biennale di Venezia (2009); 8th Gwangju Biennale (2010); “Divided Divided,” Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2010); “Soma,” Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin (2010); “Double Carousel with Zöllner Stripes,” Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome, Italy (2011); “Experience,” New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (2011); 11th Sharjah Biennale (2013); “LEBEN,” Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna (2014); 8th Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art (2014); 10th Gwangju Biennale (2014); “Golden Mirror Carousel,” National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2014–15); 56th Biennale di Venezia (2015); “Decision,” Hayward Gallery, London (2015); “Doubt,” Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan (2016); “Video Retrospective with Two Light Machines,” Mu.ZEE, Belgium (2016); and “Y,” Centro Botín, Spain (2017).
Carsten Höller applies his training as a scientist to his work as an artist, concentrating particularly on the nature of human relationships. Major installations include Flying Machine (1996), an interactive work in which viewers are strapped into a harness and hoisted through the air; Test Site (2006), a series of giant slides installed in the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall; Amusement Park (2006), a large installation at MASS MoCA of full-sized carnival midway rides operating at dramatically slowed speeds; The Double Club (2008–09), a work designed to create a dialogue between Congolese and Western culture in the form of a London bar, restaurant, and nightclub; and Upside—Down Goggles, an ongoing participatory experiment with vision distortion through goggles. Höller’s Revolving Hotel Room, a rotating installation which became a fully operational hotel room by night, was featured by the Guggenheim’s “theanyspacewhatever” exhibition (2008–09).
The Slide at the ArcelorMittal Orbit (2016), Höller’s commissioned addition to Anish Kapoor’s ArcelorMittal Orbit (2012), is permanently installed at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London. Höller currently lives and works in Stockholm, Sweden, and Biriwa, Ghana.
OLIVER OSBORNE | GIO’ MARCONI
Oliver Osborne, Fish, 2016, Giò Marconi
Oliver Osborne (b. 1985, Edinburgh, Scotland) studied at Chelsea College of Art and later completed a postgraduate diploma at the Royal Academy School in London. He was named one of the Bloomberg New Contemporaries in 2012. The paintings of Oliver Osborne contemplate the theme of visual communication through the use of appropriated drawings that have been removed from their original context.
Osborne’s recent work involves the use of cartoon-style images from old European textbooks. These have been juxtaposed against monochromatic canvases of an impressive scale, which have been depicted in varying colours. Simultaneously undermining and underscoring the references to the volumes from which they are sourced, these images work with contradictions. Though their sheer size dissuades these links, they are often portrayed in a diptych, which then becomes reminiscent of open pages. At once familiar and strange, the illustrated figures are no longer associated with their speech bubbles and yet they remain accessible to the viewer. The artist is playing with themes of opposition and the dissemination of information.
Additionally, Osborne experiments with painstakingly depicted, almost photorealistic paintings of rubber plants. Though usually represented individually and on a smaller scale, occasionally they too become backgrounds for the figurative cartoons. Both series are created with a simplicity of style, exploring easily recognisable and often humorous signs. Osborne’s work circles around contrasts and comparisons; even in the gallery space his small linen paintings of plants become juxtaposed against the unusual imagery of the much larger monochrome canvases. He also experiments with collages, placing mixed media in the foreground against simplified and neutral backgrounds. Mixing genres and styles, Osborne investigates associated meanings and creates unusual combinations of abstraction, figuration, and found images.
BARTHELEMY TOGUO| GALERIE LELONG & CO.
Barthélémy Toguo, Heal the World, 2017, Galerie Lelong & Co.
Toguo was born in 1967 in Cameroon and lives between Paris and Bandjoun. He trained at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Abidjan, Ivory Coast; the École Supérieure d’Art in Grenoble, France; and the Kunstakademie, Düsseldorf, Germany. He founded Bandjoun Station, a centre for artistic exchange between local and international artists featuring residencies, an exhibition space, a library and plantations in Bandjoun, Cameroon, in 2007.
Solo shows have taken place at institutions including Uppsala Art Museum, Sweden; Musée d’art contemporain de Sainte Etiennne, France; La Verrière by Hermès, Brussels, Belgium; Fundaçao Gulbenkian, Lisbon; and Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Notable group shows include Art/ Afrique, le nouvel atelier at Fondation Louis Vuitton (2017); All The World’s Futuresat the Venice Biennale (2015); Body Language at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2013); La Triennale: Intense Proximity, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2012); the 11th Havana Biennial (2012); A terrible beauty is born, 11th Biennale de Lyon, France; the 18th Sydney Biennale (2011); and Laughing in a Foreign Language, Hayward Gallery, London (2008).
In 2011, Toguo was made a Knight of the Order of Arts and Literature in France. He was shortlisted for the Prix Marcel Duchamp in 2016. His work is in the collections of the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Musée d’art contemporain, Lyon; Fondation Louis Vuitton; and Kunstsammlungen der Stadt, Düsseldorf, among others.
FERNANDA LAGUNA| CAMPOLI PRESTI
Fernanda Laguna, Biblioteca Belleza y Felicidad, 2016, Campoli Presti
There is no discrete, individual, self-contained work in Fernanda Laguna’s practice. Instead there is an arrangement of continuous mental and material environments placed one inside another.
One of them are her artist-run spaces that work as exhibition rooms, art supply stores, publishing labels, hideouts, or living paintings. Laguna first co-founded Belleza y Felicidad in 1999, which gradually evolved into a point of reference for art and literature in the context of the worst economic crisis in Argentina’s history. ByF evaded the scripted path artworks or books tend to follow, escaping the idea of the finished, exhibited and approved work as a decisive moment. Laguna also co-started Eloisa Cartonera in 2003, a publishing cooperative that produces handmade books with cardboard covers collected and painted by ‘cartoneros’, who make a living gathering discarded cardboard from the rubbish. That same year she moved ByF to a shantytown in the outskirts of the city, where it evolved into an experimental art-based education program for the local youth. Since then she has opened TuRito, a door less 24-hour open space for performance, Agatha Costure and the most recent El Universo.
Another one of the realms that host her work are her paintings. In her recent Formas negras parecidas a algo (Black shapes that look like something), elastic black figures emerge from an abstract landscape holding or wearing squares, triangles, circles, lines, clouds or hearts, either added (painted) or subtracted (cut out). Rather than focusing on the implied art historic differences, Laguna focuses on their universal message, which ends up reconciling the spiritual origins of modernist painting with a personal, hidden desire. Work titles such as How to make a heart, The things that I do and that I can’t paint, I would like to be her, She is alive, express the potential of pictorial elements as symbols of a subjective will.
In the series of Mimbres, weaved wicker framed canvases expand onto the wall. One of them, Las Mañanas (The mornings), from 2014, has a bow, faux-silver chain pendants, a rose drawn with decorative beads, and slashes that cut the pastel-patterned background of the canvas. All these elements make reference to Laguna’s immediate environment – cheap jewelry, sewing box items, household decoration, and imitation materials are beloved supplies always at her reach. Besides sublimating low art into high, these elements lead the viewer to partake in a sensory experience that can go anywhere between tactile pleasure and sharp melancholia. Her more recent cotton canvases take these elements into deeply personal compositions, that arise from love, devotion,
or solitude. Another site of Laguna’s unfolding work are her poems. Cultivating a queer style of writing, her prose is denotative, direct, and credible. The context of ByF allowed her to experiment across different media, producing unique, DIY style publications that question the role of the professional writer. Tatuadas para siempre (Tattooed forever) is a chapbook written by Fernanda Laguna in 1999 under her pseudonym Dalia Rosetti. It’s made of photocopied half letter-size pages folded and stapled, then wrapped in a transparent bag. It features poems, hand-made drawings and includes a heart-shaped gold plastic pendant that falls into the readers’ hands when they open it – seeking to awaken the reader’s senses in a similar way to the phrases, amulets, textures and hidden messages of her painted works.
Her series of miniature boxes (2000-ongoing), might resume her particular notion of spatiality. Sometimes one needs to slide a curtain to see the content inside them. Carefully arranged, everyday objects mock their own nature and scale to create magical settings. En mi cuarto escribo lo que quiero / In my room I write what I want (2000), features a private territory where stickers become artworks, confetti strings curtains, and pink plush a furry carpet to lie down. Spaces, windows, curtains and veils are sites of communication between the viewer and the work. At the same time they are tropes that reveal the doubling effect between erotism and fear, fabulation and reality.
MARLENE STEYN| SMAC
Marlene Steyn, the synchronized eye twitch hers, 2018, SMAC
Marlene Steyn was born in 1989 in Cape Town, South Africa, where she currently lives and works. She obtained her Master of Fine Art degree in 2014 from the Royal College of Art in London, UK. Steyn has since presented a number of critically acclaimed solo exhibitions, including: How Cannibals Cuddle at Cabin Gallery in London, in 2014; Mad Love at Lychee One in London and The End is Located Underneath Her Third Armpit (if the muscle is flexed) in Cape Town, both in 2015; as well as Your Skin Is Not The Best Hiding Place at SMAC Gallery in Cape Town; and You Can’t Cry When Your Head is Underwater at Lychee One, London, both in 2016; Knot I : I Knot at SMAC Gallery in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2017, as well as her most recent exhibition Shouty Insides at Galerie DYS in Brussels, Belgium in 2018.
Marlene Steyn is known to produce immersive, installation-based experiences, cultivating an expectation for her ever increasingly fantastic, constructed worlds. Her distinctive iconography takes shape through unsettling established ideas surrounding themes of psychoanalytic theory, certain historical narratives of art as well as popular signifiers, borrowed from contemporary culture. Adept at choosing telling details, Steyn reviews familiar objects to create uncanny motifs through repetition and unpredictable combinations. Using anchor points such as the androgynous figure, the fried egg, and braided ropes of hair, Steyn reinforces the symbolic visual language that has become the cornerstone of her practice.
Recent group exhibitions include: Faces & Other Scenarios, a two-person show at Galerie d’Ys in Brussels, Belgium; New Monuments at Commune.1, Cape Town, South Africa; Paper, publication, performance at Lychee One, London, UK; Inside Out at Castlefield Gallery in Manchester, UK; and Across the Divide at Rosenfeld Porcini in London, UK, all in 2016; Where They Hum (a three women show with Rose Wylie and Freya Douglas-Morris) at Lychee One, London, UK; Another Antipodes, at Urban Axis – PS Art Space in Fremantle, Australia; the FNB Joburg Art Fair; 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair both with SMAC Gallery in 2017 and her recent group presentation with SMAC Gallery at the 2018 Investec Cape Town Art Fair at the Cape Town international Convention Centre (CTICC) in Cape town, South Africa.
Marlene Steyn’s work features in numerous public and private collections including the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) and featured at the museum’s inaugural exhibition in 2017.