Galerie Thomas Zander is pleased to present an exhibition of works by the American conceptual artist Peter Downsbrough again. The oeuvre of the Brussels based artist comprises works consisting of lines, letters, cuts, and the spaces in between, which relate to the architectural space and call into question the linearity of both space and language. For the exhibition, a large black wall painting will be realised in situ for the first time, which communicates with a two-part metal object titled AND as well as a floor piece of steel letters.
Also on view are collages and works on paper, such as the series Newspaper (1983), which has never been shown in Germany before. For Newspaper Downsbrough modified front pages of the daily papers The New York Times and Le Figaro by covering them with black spray paint. By laying cut out letters on the paper before, the pages are given a completely altered character with letter combinations – sometimes playfully arranged, sometimes evenly aligned – creating a new work quality reminiscent of collages. The reality of everyday life, represented by the front page news, is covered by a uniform blackness, enriched with the abstraction of the individual letters, which can bee seen as elements of broken down language that dissolve world news into its components. The notion of time is especially important here because like other artists of those decades Downsbrough explores the existence of the individual. And thus the newspaper as metaphor of positioning human beings in space and time can also be found in the work of other pioneers of Minimal Art in the 1970s and ‘80s, as for example On Kawara. The series Newspaper fits in seamlessly with Downsbrough’s oeuvre, which also investigates language as a medium of art in sculpture, drawing, and photography. For his site-specific works, too, he uses letters forming conjunctions, prepositions, verbs and/or nouns and applies them to the walls, floors and/or ceilings. Born in New Jersey in 1940, Peter Downsbrough has since the late 1960s been among the leading artists whose work oscillates between Minimalism, Conceptual Art, and visual poetry and visualises a rich form language.
On the occasion of two new publications by Henry Wessel to be released next year, Galerie Thomas Zander is pleased to present photographs from his series Continental Divide and Traffic on the Second Floor. Over the course of this career, which has started in the 1960s, Wessel (born in New Jersey in 1942, lives and works in California) has created a diverse oeuvre shaped primarily by his interest in American life and social landscape. As a representative of the New Topographics-movement, Wessel investigates the dialectic relationship of nature and civilisation. This also prompted his interest in the Continental Divide, a trail running 5,000 kilometres between Mexico and Canada along the natural barrier of the hydrological divide of the Americas. Over the course of several years, Henry Wessel has criss-crossed the divide 34 times driving and photographing its changing landscape. From these trips resulted the portfolio Continental Divide, which compellingly evokes Wessel’s experience of the enormous vastness and emptiness of the American West. These subjective documentations have become timeless photographs of the twentieth century. The series Traffic is characterised by similar observations. In the early 1980s, Wessel found himself regularly commuting from Richmond, CA to San Francisco; he began to photograph his fellow commuters in their urban environment from his car window. Casting brief glances at parallel situations, these photographs express the coincidence, spontaneity, and the chaos of the everyday. They pointedly document an almost intimate privacy unfolding inside the other drivers’ cars and often extract a smile from the viewers. Wessel proves to be a keen observer of subtle incidents that can easily be overlooked, he captures the visual inconsistencies and physical presence of this country in strikingly laconic black-and-white photographs.
Henry Wessel is the recipient of two Guggenheim Fellowships and three National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships. His works have been widely exhibited, for example in the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, among others. In 2014 the Tate Modern in London dedicated a solo exhibition to the artist. In 2016 two books on Wessel’s series Continental Divide and Traffic will be published by Steidl.
Please contact the gallery for further information and images.
About the artist
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