Nicola von Senger

Erwin Wurm

27 May - 16 Jul 2011

Galerie Nicola von Senger is pleased to present selected works by Erwin Wurm, a collection drawn from the past two decades of his career. For over 25 years the Austrian born artist, who was trained as a sculptor, has developed a complex oeuvre which can best be understood as a continuous research into sculpture’s definition. With Wurm, who today is one of the most popular international contemporary artists, everything, including words, action and thoughts, becomes sculpture. His work explores the boundaries between different levels of action and performance and translates sculpture into the contemporary media world.
While looking at his work it quickly becomes apparent that the conventions of a conceptual, clear classification of artistic action have been abandoned. Wurm directs, gives instructions, describes with words and fixes with photos. It seems as though he is a distant viewer who lets arise these ‘pictures’ but he is certainly involved, partially even taking the role of model. Despite all irony his works are never totally inconceivable and often the viewer’s laugh becomes stuck in their throat. The human tragedy or frailty expressed in his works avoids sliding into pure narrative and humour and is also as much in the foreground of shaping a piece as in the final formal composition.
Wurm became known to a broader audience with his series of works titled ‘One Minute Sculptures’, in which he lets people pose, with objects from daily life and in bizarre situations, to take photographs of them. These so-called ‘sculptures’ develop in, and exist for, one minute only and are made permanent by the taking of the photograph. In content they are mostly fragile gestures, so performative that they really cannot stay longer than the planned period of time. With cucumbers, cars, houses – Wurm creates this work from the world of reality. He picks arbitrary forms and objects and makes them change into something else providing with the transformation a wider and new meaning. It is in this continuous impulse for new sculptural ideas that his particular quality lies.
For Wurm, the human body adopts all manner of forms, in his early works he nailed clothes to wooden boxes and contrasted their material flexibility with strong geometry. In a continuation the artist places these headless sculptures on top of hands or legs; creating single body-clothesconfigurations formed into their own new sculptures. In observance of today’s consumer society with its shopping addictions and excessive consumption, not only do human bodies become shapeless and bloated, but also cars and houses. The world is going to pieces and houses are melting under their own weight like ice cream in the sun.
Erwin Wurm’s art is about delivering a message, one which always presents itself with a new form and physicality. With slight irony he scrutinizes the commonly accepted conceptions framing our world only to impose his own personal viewpoints and provoke the visitor to marvel, to laugh and to think. “Humour is a weapon”, the artist once said, and Wurm uses it peacefully and specifically targeted.

Gareth Malone / Judith Platte, April 2011

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