03 Nov 2018 - 20 Jan 2019
In the front space of the gallery: Willem Hussem (1900-1974)
Joseph Montgomery’s second solo exhibition at the gallery is comprised of shim paintings. Whereas in previous exhibitions his work has combined both soft collage and the hard edges of the shim painting, this exhibition is only built upon the base structure of wedge combinations. This includes an animation in which the protagonist is also constructed from wedges.
Shims are thin pieces of construction material typically used to fill in a gap or as a leveling device and are often made of cedar, a rot resistant type of lumber. They are used in two places in Montgomery’s work, the “shim painting” and the “shim doll”, both of which are composed of articulations of the modular unit. Thus the shim forms the basis of an expressive visual language through repetition and difference. They are present in the application suites shimindex.com and dollindex.com as two tools that allow the artist to compose a doll or painting by displaying all possible iterations given a set of limitations.
The title “Joe” comes from the fact that the artist is called by two names. He is Joe informally and Joseph formally. Similarly, a painting can be named twice or three or four times. Montgomery’s use of multiple aesthetics to construct paintings names painting both as a friendly practice and a strange practice. The play between informal and formal occurs in this new body of work’s use of mirror as a painting material. Collaged within the shims by occupying the interstitial space between the wedges, the reflective surface renders the figure ground relationships ambiguous while giving the decorative nature of the material a more psychological purpose. In the fragmentation of the architecture around the object and the reflection of the viewer’s body in portions, the shim + mirror combination announces a protagonist who is mutable relative to perspective. Similarly, a set of three monochromes appear solid from afar. At an intimate distance, bundled wedges and rectangles undulate under the skin of paint.
In the animation, the shim doll bathes. Based on the Bonnard painting Nude in the Bath (1936), the doll continuously labours to rest amidst two other characters, reflection in the fluid and shadow in the depths.
front space: Willem Hussem (1900 – 1974)
As a prelude to his solo exhibition at Dürst Britt & Mayhew in the spring of 2019 we will show a small selection of works by renowned Dutch artist Willem Hussem (1900-1974) in the front space of the gallery.
As an artist Willem Hussem continually experimented and produced highly diverse works of art, including painting, drawing and sculpture. A constant aspiration towards simplicity and purity underlies his entire oeuvre. This aspiration is closely connected with his need for clear systems of thought. It was in Hegel’s philosophy and Zen Bhuddism that he found the intellectual basis for the universalistic outlook on the world that would determine his thought and work.
Throughout his life Hussem was in search of a manner of working that tied in with his philosophical views. In poetry, he found this in short lyrics, while in art he initially found it in a style that steered a middle path between expressionism and constructivism, and finally in geometrical abstraction.
In 1960 Willem Hussem represented The Netherlands at the Venice Biennial. During his lifetime he had solo exhibitions at Gemeentemuseum in Den Haag, Museum Het Princessehof in Leeuwarden and Stedelijk Museum in Schiedam and participated in major group exhibitions in Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam, Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven and Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. He also exhibited twice at the Carnegie International in Pittsburgh, US.
After Hussem’s death in 1974, the ‘Hussem Committee’, which consisted of influential artists, art historians and museum directors, kept his legacy alive. Retrospectives were mounted at Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam, Centraal Museum in Utrecht and most recently at Museum Belvedere in Oranjewoud.
Hussem’s work is held in many private and public collections, including Centraal Museum, Utrecht, Gemeentemuseum, Den Haag, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.
Click to read a specially commissioned interview by Edwin Jacobs, director of Dortmunder U.
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