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'Work and place' or 'workplace'

Barcelona, 18 December 2003

Socially committed, political, outlandish… More and more, today’s exhibitions are in want of a thematic vehicle, as if art could not be shown without a leitmotiv. The belief that the work of art can ‘exist’ on its own, that is, be exclusively subjected to the judgment of others, and stimulate their feelings, is being increasingly left behind. This exhibition, which presents two new works by Lara Almarcegui (Zaragoza, 1972) and Adrian Schiess (Zurich, 1959), at ”la Caixa” Foundation’s Sala Montcada, pits ‘being’ against ‘not being’, the physical presence of a work in a given time and space. The two artists were selected based on a simple principle of association between two different work methods, mentalities and generations. Beyond the joint exhibition, their styles share no additional parallels. Nonetheless, the two attitudes seem somehow connected, harmoniously complementing, even questioning, each other. This is what makes the focal point of curator Moritz Küng’s (Lucerne, 1961) proposal the ‘work and place’ as well as the ‘workplace’: ”la Caixa” Foundation’s Sala Montcada. Each artist shows the history, vestiges of the past and current conditions of the space in their own way. The space itself forms part of the works’ layout and orientation, building an awareness of a three-way nexus: spectator, work and surroundings.

The exhibition by Lara Almarcegui and Adrian Schiess, curated by Moritz Küng, can be visited at ”la Caixa” Foundation’s Sala Montcada (Montcada, 14), from 19 December 2003 to 22 February 2004.

The work Exploring the floor, presented by Lara Almarcegui at ”la Caixa” Foundation’s Sala Montcada, is based on a performance carried out prior to the opening of this exhibition (between 10 and 15 December when the Sala was closed to the public). Driven by her curiosity to discover what was under the solid gray tile floor of the Sala (or, to reveal what is usually hidden), the artist raised as many tiles as possible in the short time available while exhibitions were changed, later returning them to their original location before the opening of this exhibit. If the ‘unofficial’ part of this work consists of the physical act of raising the tiles, the ‘official’ part (that given during the show) narrates this activity through a mere ephemeral slide show.

The aim to reveal and show that which —in principle— is hidden makes up part of the artist’s strategy. Her catalogue of projects conveys a sense of cohesion: restoring an abandoned train station to turn it into a free hotel (Fuentes de Ebro, Zaragoza, 1997), digging a pit over a six-week period in a vacant lot (Amsterdam, 1998), or peeling away the render of an industrial building (Brussels, 1999). These archaeological interventions reveal past histories, whereas the new work now presented by Almarcegui at ”la Caixa” Foundation’s Sala Montcada is —a first for her— work done on the space itself, an action invisible insofar as materials are concerned.

This action of simultaneously revealing and covering up creates a neutral starting point for the second artist, Adrian Schiess, who can thus interpret the entire space and, ironically, highlight to an even greater degree the relative invisibility of Almarcegui’s performance. Schiess considers himself a painter, and defines paintings as objects. His so-called Flat works, that have appeared periodically since 1987, consist of monochromatic, or nearly monochromatic panels which are placed on the floor, and represent nothing more than their color. This horizontal layout underscores the flat quality of the object, of color and his own work as a painter. Monochromatic surfaces lack structure and character themselves, but given a specific organization they structure the space, which is reflected in the brightness of colored zones, becoming part of the pictorial portrayal.

Thus, Schiess expands the traditional exhibitory space of paintings on board and creates a pictorial situation that reflects the real space: ”la Caixa” Foundation’s Sala Montcada. In addition to the seven panels (already exhibited in the past), the artist shows two new panels that blend with the play of exterior light in an exhibition hall in a tunneled shape. As opposed to the monochromatic panels, many chromatic variations between light and dark come about in these two new works. Ceiling-projected videos showing computer-generated chromatic evolutions bring forth color’s delicateness as it depends on each given moment and its peripheral influences.

Lara Almarcegui
(Zaragoza, Spain, 1972, currently traveling)
This artist seeks to explore in her work the relationship between architecture and urbanism, between a specific space and its social context. The result is often performance-based, limiting an action or observation to a specific timeframe. Almarcegui studied Fine Arts at the University of Cuenca and the Atelier 63 in Amsterdam. Presently, she travels. Her projects have been presented in various centers, such as the Stedelijk Museum Bureau of Amsterdam, Witte de With in Rotterdam, Etablissement d’en Face in Brussels (with publication of a catalogue), the Marta Cervera Gallery in Madrid, the Ray Gun Gallery in Valencia, the Clock Tower Gallery in New York, the Bienal de Pontevedra (with publication of a catalogue) and the Centre d’Art Santa Mònica, in Barcelona. Her most recent showing was at Index, Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation, Stockholm.

Adrian Schiess
(Zurich, Switzerland, 1959, currently lives in Mouans-Sartoux, France)
His work won popularity especially through his “flat paintings”, shown horizontally, on the floor. Among other creations, these were exhibited at the Venice Biennial (Chiesa San Staë, 1990) and Documenta 9 (Aaue Pavilions, 1992). The key motivation behind his work is to ask himself: “How can I paint without painting images?” Schiess studied graphic arts at the Zurich College of Fine Arts. His work has been shown in a wealth of one-man exhibitions in ARC / Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville in Paris, the Kunsthalle of Zurich (with publication of catalogue), New York’s Kunsthalle, the Susanna Kulli of St. Gallen (with publication of catalogue), the Nächst St. Stephan Gallery of Vienna, the Centre d’Art Contemporain, Domaine de Kerguéhennec, in Bignan (France), the Kunsthaus of Bregenz (with publication of catalogue), Chicago’s Renaissance Society and the Villa Arson of Nice. The most recent show of his work was at the Ghislaine Hussenot Gallery in Paris.

Moritz Küng
(Lucerne, Switzerland, 1961, now resides in Brussels)
He studied architectural design at Amsterdam’s Gerrit Rietveld Academie. He directed the Architekturforum architecture center in Zurich and worked at the Centre National d’Art Contemporain Le Magasin in Grenoble. He began work as an independent curator in 1992. He has directed the exhibition department of Antwerp’s deSingel International Art Centre since 2003. Among others, he has recently curated such exhibitions as Orbis Terrarum – ways of world making / cartography and contemporary art for Antwerp’s Plantin-Moretus Museum (2000), The Larson Effect – progressive feedbacks in contemporary art for the OK-Linz and Casino Luxembourg contemporary art centers (2002), Lost Past 2002-1914 – memorial signs for the present in the city of Ypres, Belgium (2002), and the Belgian participation in the 25th São Paulo Biennial (2002). He began an interdisciplinary conference cycle entitled “Curating the Library” at Antwerp’s de Singel International Art Centre, scheduled to continue until 2006. His first exhibit season opened with Urban Dramas – narrative aspects in the urban environment (2003).

Lara Almarcegui and Adrian Schiess. A proposal by Moritz Küng
From 19 December 2003 to 22 February 2004

”la Caixa” Foundation’s Sala Montcada
Montcada, 14
08003 Barcelona

Information
www.fundacio.lacaixa.es/salamontcada
Tel.: 902 22 30 40

Hours:
Tuesday to Saturday, from 11 am to 3 pm and from 4 to 8 pm
Sundays and holidays, from 11 am to 3 pm

Free admission

www.fundacio.lacaixa.es

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