Dr. Leonhard Fopp, owner of the Gallery Art and Business, is pleased to announce the thought-provoking interdisciplinary international exhibition Political Poetical with works by Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Santiago Sierra, Erwin Olaf, Chus García-Fraile, Nicola Verlato, Johan Wahlstrom, Johanna Reich, Gregory Herpe and Josie McCoy.
Curated by Spanish curator and arts writer Paco Barragán and German curator and art advisor Petra Lossen, the exhibit brings together an imaginative mix of classic and contemporary artists around the topics of the ‘political’ and the ‘poetical’.
The personal is political….and the political is poetical we could add. To the famous 1960s slogan—about which by the way until today nobody claimed authorship for originating the phrase—we could confidently argue that the political is poetical.
Especially in the contingent times of today’s capitalism it becomes a fascinating topic to examine how the political can be poetical and how the poetical is extremely political.
We entered in the mean time ‘classic’ artists like Picasso and Dalí in a fresh dialogue with contemporary artists like Santiago Sierra, Erwin Olaf or Josie McCoy, just to mention a few. The exhibition represents an exercise in a-historical or trans-historical curating that helps us to articulate how the political-poetical dialectics has been and still is a mayor topic in contemporary art and society.
Basically, we could argue that the artistic and its structures are always trying to redefine themselves and looking for news ways to meet the challenges society faces. Maybe today under neo-liberalism it is not about utopia or demanding radical democracy, but about more modest goals: the survival of democracy or the return/recovery of certain benefits of the wellfare state.
The exhibit Political Poetical inserts itself within this fascinating artistic discourse and pursues the questions of what is art, what can art do and if it still can represent a place of resistance, critique and opposition.
If for Hannah Arendt the political is inevitably connected to actions that enable the appearance of the ‘unknown’, the art world is a place of ‘conflictual consensus’—as Jacques Ranciére would argue—where the utopian, the irreverent, the radical, and the impossible is possible. “Contrary to the usual assumption”—affirms Murray Edelman—“art should be recognized as a major and integral part of the transaction that engenders political behaviour.”
The group of artists reunited in the show tackle the dialects political-poetical from different angles negotiating its limits and its tensions using varied interdisciplinary media like painting, photography, video, sculpture, performance and work on paper.
The exhibition is both concept and display-wise divided into two constellations.
The ‘political wall’ will revolve around Pablo Picasso´s drawings of Guernica—the so-called Post-scripts—that are still today a master piece and a clear example of the horror and injustices of war. Both Spanish artists Santiago Sierra and Chus García-Fraile will enter in dialogue with Picasso in a literal and metaphorical manner: while Sierra presents a photo from the famous series of Veterans of the War of Iraq, Afghanistan Facing the Wall denouncing the connection between capitalism and warfare, Chus García-Fraile delves into the origin of the fireworks and the idea of the image as artifice, as simulacrum, conveying mesmerizing analogies between real bombings and fireworks. Also on the same wall we will display Johanna M. Reich’s video-performance Monument in which she paints a simple German flag in which she ´literally’ disappears revolving around ideas of patriotism and nationalism. And finally, we will exhibit a fascinating image by Dutch artist Erwin Olaf staged in the Berlin interbellum years with its unmatching oneiric atmosphere. Now that we celebrate 80 years of the bombing of Guernica, Picasso’s drawings will provide a fascinating dialogue with the work of Santiago Sierra, Chus García-Fraile, Johanna Reich and Erwin Olaf.
If in the former constellation of works the political is more obvious or manifest, the ‘poetical wall’ reunites works in a sort of ‘assemblage’ by Salvador Dalí, Nicola Verlato, Josie McCoy, Gregory Herpe and Johan Wahlstrom. Here we find the political filtered through modern society and elements like mass media, celebrity and social life in which the representation acquires poetical hints.
Salvador Dalí is an extremely political artist, although this part of his career has been conveniently silenced as he didn´t choose the right side of history. One of the inventors of the celebrity cultus, Dalí’s Profile of Time is an open-ended work which can reference from Einstein´s relativity theory to the poetical surrealists dream states in which oneiric landscapes go hand in hand with estranged characters. Both Josie McCoy and Nicola Verlato delve directly in the realm of the celebrity status and politics turned into a celebrity contest: while Josie McCoy portrays the couple Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner exploring the potentiality of estrangement between the celebrity and the viewer, Nicola Verlato offers a critical hyper-realist composition of the Oval Room and a in fraganti glimpse of former President Barack Obama. On its turn, Gregory Herpe offers awkward and poetic black and white photographs of today’s cityscapes populated by celebrity personalities like Mick Jagger —vigilantly watched by French military— and histrionic Donald Trump.
Finally, Swedish artist Johan Wahlstrom also walks the path of celebrity, mass media and especially social media by conveying estranged compositions of everyday life of people engaging in social media in the most varied situations tackling imaginatively concepts like “hyperflexibility”, “mobility” and “availability”, which are the key to the neo-liberal mantra. Departing from Salvador Dalí’s Profile of time we have in a metaphorical manner conceived a wall that deals poetically with politics, celebrity and social media.
The exhibition Political Poetical basically allows us to ask ourselves what is the role of art in society and how art can explore new ways and new ideas that can find directly or indirectly its way into our quotidianeity.
Paco Barragan, Petra Lossen and Leonhard Fopp are extremely happy to have reunited such a pool of artists in such a fascinating dialogue.
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