Isa Genzken, Untitled 2012, Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth
Photo: Stefan Altenburger Photography Zürich
© Isa Genzken

Isa Genzken, Hallelujah opened April 14th, 2012 at Hauser & Wirth, Zürich, Switzerland.  The exhibition features an installation of objects ranging from sculptural combines to visually textural collages and photographic wall paper bringing together various textures, images and patterns. Genzken, born in 1948 in Germany and currently based in Berlin, is an exciting artist whose work feels incredibly fresh in a theoretical exchange within the realm of contemporary art. Taking a cue from the combines of Robert Rauschenberg, along with a nod towards minimalism, Hallelujah, is a frenetic prayer, ripe with a stark synthesis of color and precise compositional choices. Elements in many of the pieces, reference popular culture and events that have occurred in the last hundred years. However, there is also a sense of homage and direct reference to the past, found in appropriated images that give allusion to the Renaissance and art historical presence. Examining her compositional choices, it’s no surprise that the artist is well informed and aware of those who came before. Such is not an easy task for a contemporary artist and she chooses to visually acknowledge not only content that is identifiable from a particular time, but Genzken also appears to have made a visual notation in confessing to the ownership of her own influences or favorites, one which is Joseph Beuys. She also documents her own legend and personal mythology by using previous text and images from earlier exhibitions.

Isa Genzken, Untitled 2012 Courtesy the artist and
Hauser & WirthPhoto: Stefan Altenburger
Photography Zürich© Isa Genzken

Much of the work in Hallelujah has a magical resonance. It communicates not only with the space in which it is installed but also in a rather mystical way. If one was to break down the components of each sculpture, the items that remain, are on their own, quite simplistic. Each object carries the burden of having a specific function or quality of being used for a certain task (such as the wooden crates). However in rendering the objects and stripping them of function, the artist completes a task of her own and is aesthetically inclined to communicate through a filter of secondary colors and gesture towards geometric formulation.

What is it about Donald Duck? The Walt Disney character who was created in 1934, appears in several of the works, as a painting and then again, a small three dimensional figurine. The recognizable animated character may function as the artist herself or as a form of 20th Century hieroglyphics. Either way the addition is colorfully incorporated, a part of a whole. For most in the world, I assume it would be quite difficult to divorce oneself from the identity of the figure, but I don’t think that the artist seems to mind.

Isa Genzken, Hallelujah (New Museum), 2012
Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth, Photo:
Stefan Altenburger Photography Zürich © Isa Genzken

According to Isa Genzken, the works in this exhibition, both physically dimensional and contextually emotionally “flat”, are woven together in order to construct a landscape. If one is to walk through the exhibition, eyes squinting at the shapes and colors, would her agenda ring clear? She established a set of rules when making each combine and as if building a nest, the artist thought clearly of her favorite city, New York. Abstracting skyscrapers into color blocked pedestals, two-dimensional objects hung in an architectural, gridded format and even the collages on the gallery floor all contribute to the artists concept of an urban landscape.  Similarly, the photographs that appear in many of the works reference various frames of location and editorial space, not unlike the barrage of visual stimulation that one absorbs on a normal day, walking the gridded streets and avenues of Manhattan, beautiful and disturbing.

Isa Genzken, Untitled 2012
Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth Photo:
Stefan Altenburger Photography Zürich
© Isa Genzken
Hallelujah begs for recognition in its unlikely request for validation in the fantastical re-creation of an urban structure, which pays tribute to one of the most famous cities in the world. Even if this itinerary is not initially clear, each piece stands for itself, becoming an icon if not for formal architectonics, but in participation with the ongoing dialogue present in the realm of contemporary art.

Isa Genzken, Hallelujah, is the final exhibition to be on view at Hauser & Wirth’s temporary location at Hubertus Exhibitions, in Zürich, Switzerland. The show opened April 14th and will close May 19th, 2012.

Hubertus Exhibitions, Albisriederstrasse 199a
CH-8047 Zürich

Stay tuned for the Isa Genzken’s upcoming solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, 2013.

More soon!

Isa Genzken, Installation view, 2012
Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth
Photo: Stefan Altenburger Photography Zürich