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Bearable Lightness of Being - Ger van Elk

Galleries Grimm

Frans Halsstraat 26
1072 BR Amsterdam
Keizersgracht 241
1016 EA Amsterdam
+31 (0)20 6752465

Open Mon - Sat / 11-18 hrs
(Frans Halsstraat 26)
Wed - Sat / 11-18 hrs
(Keizersgracht 241)

Exhibition 21 Apr — 27 May

Opening 22 Apr, 17-20 hrs


Ger van Elk, Touwsculptuur

GRIMM is proud to announce Bearable Lightness of Being, a tribute to the work and conceptual heritage of Ger van Elk. GRIMM Keizersgracht showcases several highlights of Van Elk’s oeuvre in an intimate setting, while at the Frans Halsstraat a group show by Adriano Amaral, Daniel G. Baird, Elizabeth Price, Willem de Rooij, Letha Wilson and others, will serve as a contemporary reflection on his work.

Ger van Elk (1941-2014) is internationally considered to be one of the pioneers of conceptual art. Anarchist artist par excellence and averse to conventions, Van Elk experimented with many different media and did frequent collaborations with fellow artists, including William Leavitt, Allen Rupersberg and John Baldessari and Bas Jan Ader in particular. In 1969 he participated in the groundbreaking exhibitions When Attitudes Become Form at Kunsthalle Bern and Op Losse Schroeven: Situaties en Cryptostructuren at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam; the latter still counts as the introduction of conceptual art in the Netherlands.

At a young age, when his mother remarried and he became Catholic instead of Protestant overnight, Van Elk realized that “theory was nothing but a construct, a work of artifice.” It proved to be a crucial moment to his art practice, the insight that truth is not truthful and that one theory was always interchangeable with another. In his witty and radical work, Van Elk analyzed the role of the artist, explored the question of authorship and original and examined the dubious relationship between image, imagination and reality. With a preference for supposedly insignificant materials and always with a smile, Van Elk tried to disrupt the established art world one artwork at a time.

The idea for this exhibition arose a few years ago when Van Elk was still alive. He loved the idea of exhibiting his work alongside younger generations of artists. This concept evolved into the current presentation on two locations: we will exhibit a selection of historically important work by Van Elk at the Keizersgracht, while at the Frans Halsstraat a group show will be presented by various artists who were either influenced by his work, or with whom we can draw our own parallel with Ger’s work, be it because of a similar (conceptual) approach or by the use of a medium that he pioneered.

We are proud to announce the participation of Elizabeth Price (UK, 1966), who received the Turner Prize in 2012 for her installation The Woolsworths Choir of 1979. Within a specially constructed area in the gallery, Price will present her work K (2015), an overwhelming two-screen projection. As Van Elk was a pioneer in the 1970’s with his short films, Price is pushing the boundaries of video art today; her installations, that examine the forces that are at play when many different technological histories coincide, both appeal to the senses and the intellect, and usually take years to make.

Willem de Rooij (NL, 1969), whose solo exhibition at the Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt opened in October 2016 and who is currently presenting a solo exhibition at the Institute of Modern Art in Brisbane, will show several works. The group exhibition will feature two works on canvas and his infamous installation Route Along 18 corners that was on view at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam in 1993 and 2010 and that guided the visitor past eighteen niches of the museum rooms. Both the dry-humorous approach and a preoccupation with the conditions of the exhibition space express a strong affinity with the work of Van Elk, especially his early installations as Hoe hoeker hoe platter (1972) and Apparatus scala dividens (1969), that both have been on view at the Stedelijk Museum.

Van Elk’s Well Polished Floor (1969-1980) was executed three times at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, where it is still home today. Within the group exhibition at the Frans Halsstraat, this iconic piece resonates in a site-specific floor installation by Adriano Amaral (BR, 1982). In his work, that is currently also on view in a solo exhibition at the Vleeshal in Middelburg, Amaral examines the relationship between the human body and architecture. It is a profound interest in the nature of the materials that surround us, that he shares with Van Elk. But while Van Elk turned to rope, pole and canvas, Amaral takes his material experiment into the 21st century by mixing all kinds of artificial products such as silicone, aluminum and concrete with natural resources.

The work of Daniel G. Baird (US, 1984), a young artist from Chicago, is a layered examination of the place mankind occupies within the inevitable passage of time. Baird is interested in the traces that symbolize our relationship to time and progress. Fossils, hidden within sedimentary layers of the past, embody the omnipresent and infinite symbolism of a horizon. This understanding of the horizon, as a place where things appear and disappear, held the interest of Ger van Elk as well. It contains an elusive and ever-changing phenomenon.

Letha Wilson (US, 1976), who recently exhibited a solo show at the Center for Contemporary Art and Culture at PNCA, Portland, OR, also reflects on Van Elk’s relationship with the horizon and his play with illusion and reality. She will present two works, one of which she produced specially for Bearable Lightness of Being. Like Van Elk, Wilson challenges the dividing line between image and truth. But where Van Elk aimed to demonstrate photography’s inability to represent reality, Wilson’s works are experiments in overcoming this duality altogether.



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