For over twenty years, Isa Genzken (born 1948) has created an impressive, multi-faceted body of work using a wide artistic vocabulary, an approach that includes the use of photography, video, film, collages and collage books. Genzken is best known for her sculptures, gaining attention for her minimalist oriented “Hyperbolos” and “Ellipsoids” in the late 70s and architecturally-inflected works such as her recent epoxy resin windows and skyscraper “Columns” from the 90s. Genzken’s practices, to date, are incredibly wide-ranging but her work remains dedicated to challenging the viewer’s self-awareness by means of physically altering their perceptions, bringing bodies together in spaces and integrating elements of a mixed media into sculpture.
There is an intuitive and consistent manner to Genzken’s work, not only in dramatising aspects of space and scale for the audience but in creating new dialogues and contact with surfaces of material. She has always engaged in the divides between public and private, and the effects on the modern individual of advertising, design and architecture. The socio-political content is evident and central to her oeuvre.
The formal elements of traditional sculpture are also addressed in Genzken’s work. The use of plinths to elevate works to eye-level refers to the autonomous nature she attributes to the assemblages and also to question the interface between surface and fragility. In her recent show at the Kunsthalle Zurich, a new group of works entitled Empire/Vampire, Who kills Death (2002/2003) featured twenty two sculptures using toy figures in apocalyptic scenes of war and urban devastation – a new direction in Genzken’s interest in the fictitious space of sculpture.
Hauser & Wirth are proud to present Isa Genzken’s first major solo show in London. The new works are site-specific installations created in response to the gallery space and also hint at the architecture of gothic churches. ‘Wasserspeier’ (Gargoyles) in the show’s title is Genzken’s play with the contradictory treatment of these figures gracing the church fronts. Gargoyles were originally used as waterspouts, a protective measure, and thus she toys with the irony of their visual form. The works are complex assemblages using an extensive range of media.
Isa Genzken has won numerous prizes, including the Wolfgang-Hahn-Prize, Museum Ludwig, Cologne in 2002 and the Internationaler Kunstpreis der Kulturstiftung der SSK Munchen, Munich 2003. Her show entitled “Fuck The Bauhaus/New Buildings for New York” in 2000 at the AC Project Room, New York was widely acclaimed and she gained much attention at the Documenta 11, Kassel in 2002. Her recent, successful show at the Kunsthalle Zurich (2003) included collaborative work with Wolfgang Tillmans (Catalogue available). The artist lives and works in Berlin.