Fast and Steady: Pop-Up Gallery, London

1 - 12 March 2011

Marcelle Joseph Projects, in conjunction with Charlotte Artus Art, is delighted to present its inaugural exhibition of contemporary art. Fast and Steady is a treble solo show featuring the work of three European artists: Corrado Sassi of Italy, Tilo Kaiser of Germany and Nikolai Winter of Switzerland.  The show will present the recent output of these three artists who, while exploring their practices within three different media, each take a deeply steadfast, consistent and thorough approach to their research.


Corrado Sassi has been exploring the medium of photography for more than a decade, having received his diploma from the International Center for Photography in New York.  Taking snapshots at chest level, without the use of a viewfinder and in everyday life, in the documentary tradition of William Eggleston and Philip Lorca di Corcia, Corrado's signature style is then to bifurcate the image and present the two parts as a diptych of sorts.  This presentation stems from his interest in duality, in the fractured view, in parts that belong together being wrenched apart.  The resulting images' encasement in plexiglass further serves to distance the view, so that the viewer feels that he is seeing space through a series of windows, at fast speed, as he hurtles through the world, from the vantage point of a voyeur.  Yet the images are forcing themselves outward too, into the space of the viewer-a quick but strong glimpse of life, frozen. 


For this show, Corrado has created a unique and ingenious extension on the theme of duality in the photographic image.  He has printed a series of his snapshot photos on a strong but transparent voile fabric, which he then stretches in a specially made frame centimetres away from a different photographic print, so that both images are superimposed and visible.  His method is an analogue and physical approach to digital "photo-shopping", in which time and space converge in one frame, yet remain distinct.  The depth of the image, the distance between them, creates an effect much like a television screen, yet sublime.  His practice multiplies the ordinary yet surreal effect of Jeff Wall's disturbing lightboxes, for instance, to confuse perceptions and the reactions they induce, like a memory or a dream.


All of the images in the "Voile" series were shot in Manhattan on a 35mm camera, while all the images in the bifurcated photographs were shot in Manhattan or upstate New York, also in 35mm.  Corrado's practice is to sustain this self-described "fast and steady" working method only while travelling, as the constant voyeurism requires intense concentration of the tiniest details in the world around.  For the current show, Corrado has also produced a special limited edition print of the Hayward Gallery in London, glowing on the South Bank like an architectural jewel, iconic and revered as a traveller will perceive it.


Tilo Kaiser also delves into the issue of place and its relationship with the social commentary inherent in his works on canvas.  Tilo frequently travels through Asia, the United States, and Europe, collecting local maps and newspapers, as well as the consumer culture ephemera that underpin his drawing-based practice.  Since moving to London in 2006, Tilo has lined his canvases with rag sheets like the Sun, which celebrate the football and chesty page 3 girl obsessions that define the British lad culture. Tilo then populates the surface of his canvases with a colourful and cheeky visual language of Manga-esque characters and mathematical formulae juxtaposed with designer logos and tissue papers that scream: I Want It All Now.  The narration is complex, but after repeated viewings of Tilo's work the unique becomes uncomfortably decipherable-a comment on the inane greed and mindless celebrity fascination to which contemporary society seems to succumb.


By contrast with these collage works, Tilo has developed a line-drawing approach which deals with many of the same themes in an almost childlike style, which is pared right down.  Tilo draws naïve figures in single bright strokes on a canvas, then darkly and thickly paints around the lines until they seem to waver and glow.  The figures reminiscent of Philip Guston dance across the canvas, inviting the viewer to join them on some mindless errand that characterizes life in modern society.  Tilo's humorous approach to his narration on canvas belies a wicked sense of the absurdity inherent in modern "culture," all delivered with virtuosic draftsmanship.


The hand sculptures created by Nikolai Winter also arise from his travels.  The artist confronts the viewer with gestural three-dimensional works of art that are conversely reminiscent of fast moving objects.  To create these sculptures, a steady hand, a resolute process and an unwavering eye for detail are required. Nikolai first carves, saws and sands a block of polystyrene and then casts the shape in polyester before applying several layers of shiny metallic car paint, which gives the works a super slick finish à la Jeff Koons or Anish Kapoor. 


Hands are a constant area of fascination for Nikolai.  He is interested in their various postures and symbolic character, communicating their aura and expressiveness through his sculptures. Nikolai's use of hand gesture imagery can be traced to his travels throughout Asia. Inspired by the Terracotta Army in Xi'An, China, he created a group of Abhaya hand sculptures in 2010, in effect building an army of hands.  The design of this hand is based on an ancient Tibetan Buddha hand modeled after the Abhaya mudra, a symbol of fearlessness and the displacement of anxiety.  Nikolai links the mudra, or spiritual gesture of the hand, back to the spirit of the Terracotta Army. Nikolai's work situates the beauty and aura of ancient cultures within the speed and flash of the contemporary rat race, drawing our attention to the distinctions between the two.


By contrast, after receiving a commission to create a sculpture for a well-known nightclub in Zurich, Nikolai conceived the Doigt d'honneur(middle finger) sculpture. This hand gesture, although a provocative and vulgar symbol of modern times, transforms into an image of elegance by the artist's use of materials and steadfast emphasis on finish.