Massimo De Carlo London is pleased to present RCHX a new solo exhibition by John Armleder. In his practice John Armleder plays with the humour, irony and inventiveness that characterised the Fluxus movement. The artist’s universe takes shape through canvases and installations that create a whimsical and glittering atmosphere, questioning the boundaries between art and design, figuration and abstraction.
RCHX, which occupies all three floors of the gallery, is composed of a new series of works created specifically for this exhibition, that are part of Armleder’s iconic series such as the Pour Paintings, Puddle Paintings and Furniture Sculptures, all commenced in the late eighties.
In the large scale Pour Paintings the artist pours paint vertically down the canvas, using chance and the force of gravity as allies. The results of the paint pouring downward are casual compositions of colours and shapes, of different gradients and shades that leave the viewer freedom to decode and interpret what they see. The pour paintings are either shown alone or juxtaposed, with recurring wallpaper motifs on canvas such as the eerie looking cat or with a different canvas as if the work was split in half.
On the ground floor the viewer is confronted with one of John Armleder’s Furniture Sculptures, composed of three electric guitars (a recurring presence in the Furniture Sculpture series) and two pale-coloured paintings that resemble glass coasters. Each furniture sculpture combines objects with canvases, initiating a reflection on the notions of spatiality and object hood: here is the sublime of abstract painting with the rigorous poverty of Fluxus.
In the Puddle Paintings, which in RCHX vary from large to smaller scale canvases, dense threads of different colours of paint trap bizarre objects (such as small light bulbs, fridge magnets and ear plugs) together with decorations like flower petals, plants, and bits of garlands. The puddle paintings are the surprise result of daring combinations of chemicals and paints: each mixture creating unexpected results and coloured bubbles of paint and glitter that capture and confine the scattered objects on the canvas. The slathered surfaces and exploded bubbles confer to the canvas the murky and wild aspect of the bed of a river or a lake: are they poisonous contaminations or shrines to the shimmer of consumerism?
As in John Armleder’s practice, each work in RCHX becomes part of an ever-changing yet habitual narrative, which is hard to define yet unique, light-hearted yet demanding. The kitsch and the experimental, the unconventional and the severe are all present in each of these works: every canvas is a journey into a dazzling universe, that doesn’t ask for intangible approval or interpretation but invites the viewer to lightly connect the thin, buoyant and poignant threads that tether us to the earth.
On the occasion of RCHX, works by John Armleder will also be on show at the Mayfair gallery and Richoux Café, both across the road from the gallery.
John Armleder was born in Geneva in 1948, where he lives and works.
His career spans five decades and synthesises many of the competing aesthetic developments associated with that period. Student of Fluxus in Geneva in the 1960s, and founder of the Ecart group, Armleder was later, in the 1980s, associated with Neo-Geometric Conceptualism. He is known for the variety of his work, which combines Fluxus spirit and abstract painting, readymade and sculpture, performance and room-size installations. As a painter, sculptor and performance artist, Armleder constantly asks questions about what art is, what it can do, and what art is allowed. From room-size installations to abstract paintings, from geometrical constructivist paintings to furniture sculptures and pattern-strewn wallpapers, his art admittedly takes on attributes of Suprematist painting, Minimalist sculpture, Concrete Art and Dada readymades, among other movements.
His work is in the permanent collections of many museums, including the Centre Pompidou, Paris; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Long Museum, Shanghai, China; Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles; Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland; Museion Foundation - Modern and Contemporary Art Museum, Bolzano, Italy; and Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden.