Franz Ackermann: Wait

10 Feb—1 Apr 2010


White Cube, Mason’s Yard

On his third solo show at the White Cube, German artist Franz Ackermann exhibits two site-specific installations, some paintings and drawings. On the first floor of the gallery, the visitor is invited to come inside a billboard structure space and see the installation that entitles the show. Composed of wall-painting, an L-shape bench, two round paintings (one displayed rotating on the floor with some trunks over it), a photo and a video, the piece disappoints for it’s similarity with some other works recently conceived and exhibited by the artist. Changing only one or other element of the installation, the atmosphere of the piece reminds, more than in an authorial discernment level, “Home and Home again”, exhibited at Hoxton Square White Cube in 2006 and notoriously ‘No direction home” showed at Galeria Fortes Vilaça, São Paulo, in 2007.

Much more interesting than the upper level installation, “This is London” is exhibited in the centre of the lower level space. It is a pile of two coloured cubes, followed by a round flat painting that also turns, only now displayed vertically, as a guardian of the room. In addition to the work is a couple of painted columns, sand bags and found objects, such as magazines and postcards. One side of the upper cube has a black and white photo depicting a dirty glass façade, where the spectator reads “Tourist information” in both English and Portuguese. The photo was obviously not taken in London, and most likely the other materials and paintings on the work doesn’t have an immediate relation with the city either, so what is there in the work about London, except the fact that it is being exhibited in the city? In this piece, the long time interest of the artist in themes such as globalisation and tourism makes itself much more clear and apparent in images than the fact of exhibiting similar works worldwide.

The turning canvas on the top of this installation operates as a guardian of  the several paintings and drawings exhibited on the wall. Though the artists plays with the shape of the frames, more than once constructing it very irregularly and, in one case, attaching a necklace to the work, the canvases appears to be layers of inks, very rigidly thrown over the surface. The strong colours proper of the artist pallet give the sensation of paralyzed images, on a different direction from what he appears to aim. Shyly displayed in the end of a wall are four drawings. Mixing pencil with oil, the artist achieves a subtleness that is not possible within his paintings. The combination of the precision of graphite with ink gives a fragile and beautiful aspect to the drawings, far more than in the canvas, for here it’s clear the hand of the artist and his effort to carefully merge the two techniques. Although full with a bit of the same (even regarding the drawings), the exhibition reserves good surprises for an attempt look.

– Maria do Carmo M. P de Pontes

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