Wonderful
Nov
29
to Apr 28

Wonderful

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The Wunderkammer has been a permanent part of me Collectors Room in Auguststrasse since the opening of the exhibition space in 2010 and is currently the only one of its kind in Berlin. From 29 November 2012, the Wunderkammer will present spectacular artworks that have been recently acquired, along with several contemporary works from the Olbricht Collection that center on the theme of the Wunderkammer or historical ‘cabinet of curiosities’.

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Richard Wathen Solo Show 2011
Apr
20
to May 21

Richard Wathen Solo Show 2011

Appearing at once both contemporary and historical, and intriguingly titled Man Whose Head Expanded, a seemingly young man with neat blue hair and wearing a classical tunic stares out from a plain lilac background; in another painting – Man Whose Head Diminished – a face disturbingly similar to the first but older and wearing a multi-coloured Elizabethan-style ruff seems to emerge out of the canvas. Together the    images play on contrasting ideas of self-belief.

Richard Wathen's new show for Max Wigram Gallery comprises his disturbing, anatomically distorted and isolated self-portraits that reflect on time and age, art history and studio painting. His paintings draw inspiration from a variety of periods, mixed with disguised, self-fashioned autobiographic references.  Wathen considers his paintings to be manifestations of something previously unconsidered brought into view.

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Big Minis
Nov
19
to Feb 27

Big Minis

Are the mini and smallness a portent of crisis, or a reflection, a consequence thereof? Might they also be an effective and off-kilter response to THE crisis?With the exhibition BigMinis, the CAPC ís idea is to explore the special fascination wielded by the “scaled-down” object in a period of recession. While miniaturization may conjure up lower costs, less time, and less space, the production of the mini is, for its part, strategic. The mini resists reduction and scaling-down. It exists because of its small size. A cheeky smallness which reveals, in the current economic and cultural context, some of the capitalist pathologies in which the mini originates, and to which it responds. 

Is the mini a regulatory object? The exhibition BigMinis brings together works by some 50 contemporary artists, on loan from public collections in France and abroad, private foundations and collections, galleries, and the artists themselves. The idea, which originates in the present-day economic state of affairs, unfolds against a backdrop of recession, and questions, in particular, the notion of “fetishes of crisis.”

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LEBENSLUST & TOTENTANZ
Jul
19
to Nov 7

LEBENSLUST & TOTENTANZ

The exhibition features some 250 works, the most comprehensive presentation of one of the most prestigious collections in Europe, the Olbricht Collection.

The show allows an adventure through the art and cultural history the last 400 years: The works go a formal and thematic correspondences can be repeatedly hinted relationships that are part of our cultural history and our collective visual memory. The exhibition focuses on the existential themes of human life such as religion, sexuality, love, beauty, transience and death. It shows contemporary art that challenges to dialogue and moral and religious taboos breaks. The historic arch extending from Wunderkammer exhibits from the 16th, 17th and 18th century to contemporary works of the 20th and 21st centuries.

 

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The Wunderkammer
Jun
11
to Dec 31

The Wunderkammer

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The Wunderkammer is a permanent part of our exhibition space and is currently the only one of its kind in Berlin. As part of “WONDERFUL – Humboldt, Krokodil & Polke” the Wunderkammer presents spectacular artworks that have been recently acquired, along with contemporary works from the Olbricht Collection that also centre on the theme of the Wunderkammer or historical ‘cabinet of curiosities’.

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Dawnbreakers
Apr
27
to Jun 12

Dawnbreakers

When the new millennium rolled in, predictions of a computer catastrophe – the Y2K problem – amounted to nothing but fear. Never before, perhaps with the exception of the Moon landing, had the world watched a singular moment with such intensity and foreboding. In one second, The Industrial Age became The Information Age.

Dawnbreakers brings together contemporary artists of mixed disciplines and uses this moment in history as the backdrop to the exhibition, drawing parallels with its transformations and underlying tensions. These artists negotiate the heritage and tradition of ‘the artist’s hand’ within an unfolding new age.

Dawnbreakers does not illustrate what is meant by digital or analogue. Neither is it an homage to the fears associated with Y2K paranoia or a yearning for bygone times. In a manner echoing the dramatic transitions that occurred during the ‘fin de siècle’ period of the 19th century, these artists’ works take different forms but encapsulate a common feeling, as our age meets tomorrow’s world.

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Richard Wathen Solo Show 2009
Mar
13
to Apr 23

Richard Wathen Solo Show 2009

Max Wigram Gallery proudly announces a solo show of new works by Richard Wathen. The exhibition features four new paintings and a series of etchings made in collaboration with Paragon Press.

Wathen’s engagingly familiar but teasingly elusive figures are drawn from a variety of different iconographic sources such as old books, photographic portraits, art historical references and snapshots. Gender and age are distorted by the use of disquieting details that dislocate the subject in time and place. 

Florence is characterized by such ambiguity and belongs to Wathen’s recurrent theme of figures holding rabbits where the animal is emblematic of their sense of vulnerability. The Maker refers to the painting genre of the card player and can be conceived as the portrait of an artist. Here, the house of cards suggests the idea of something outside the painting, an odd, separated element, a sort of abstract painting within the painting, as it were. Alongside portraits Wathen has, in the past, painted landscapes pregnant with arrays of inconspicuous animals. Llareggub marks the artist’s return after three years to the landscape genre.

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Richard Wathen Solo Show 2007
Oct
12
to Nov 17

Richard Wathen Solo Show 2007

Wathen’s third solo show with the gallery appears to rest within the conventions of traditional portraiture, but there is something evidently unconventional about his paintings. They are imbued with a sense of unease - recognisable, yet strange and unfamiliar. 

Manner; environment; fashion; the placement of objects and animals: seemingly deliberate details which we might assume locate a portrait temporally and geographically, have a peculiar uncertainty which evades specificity. The functions of characterisation are destabilised and the sitters seem of uncertain age, time, and in some cases, gender. 

Such ambiguity is present in “Hilary” where it is unclear whether the protagonist, who is clutching a rabbit, does so with a tyrannical grip, or a tender embrace. Similarly, “Leonid”, depicts a character in an uncertain composure – a question-mark hovering over the figure’s gender, and whether they are captured during sleep, a charade or perhaps even in death. 

Wathen’s characters are reticent, and remain distant, alienated from the viewer. Eye contact is often evasive or vacant, the poses awkward and gestures hesitant, compounding the sense of estrangement already present in the stark, isolated settings.

 

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Old School
May
11
to Jun 9

Old School

Old School celebrates a re-engagement with Old Master modes of representation, which might be said to be a recent phenomenon in contemporary art. Beyond ironic appropriation, a new school of artists look to the past and revel in the sophisticated pleasures of anachronism, swerving between period styles and details with gay abandon.

Affinities continually emphasise differences in a dialogue between old and new. By adopting the iconographies, graphic rhythms and techniques of Lucas Cranach, John Currin’s paintings from the mid to late nineties graft a historical complexity and painterly panache to the provocatively unnatural female bodies that feature in his paintings. Artists such as Currin, Wall and Smith consciously make use of classic compositions of genre, history and landscape painting so that their images recall and summon the spirits of countless past artworks whilst they mine the gap between current sensibilities and those of previous times. This observance of different moments of time within a single image is explored to the hilt in Hilary Harkness’ paintings, which conflate episodes from history with a very contemporary kinkiness, and in the works of Richard Wathen whose portraits are chilling distillations of all of a person’s ages into one.

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L&M ARTS NEW YORK
Jan
2
to Dec 31

L&M ARTS NEW YORK

After a second sold-out show at Max Wigram Gallery last May and tremendous sales record at this year's Frieze Art Fair, British artist RICHARD WATHEN will be at the core of eminent New York-based dealers L&M ARTS’ inaugural series of contemporary exhibitions in 2007. 

L&M Arts, who have built up an enviable reputation specialising in superior quality 20th century art, have been turning their attention to the contemporary art market for some time.

Wathen’s work sits in several private and public collections including those of Charles Saatchi, Dianne Wallace and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Los Angeles (USA).

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The Monty Hall Problem
Jul
1
to Aug 20

The Monty Hall Problem

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May 12, 1975

Mr. Steve Selvin
Asst. Professor of Biostatistics
University of California, Berkeley

Dear Steve:

Thank you for sending me the problem from "The American Statistician."

Although I am not a student of a statistics problems, I do know that these figures can always be used to one's advantage, if I wished to manipulate same. The big hole in your argument of problems is that once the first box is seen to be empty, the contestant cannot exchange his box. So the problems still remain the same, don't they. . . one out of three. Oh, and incidentally, after one is seen to be empty, his chances are no longer 50/50 but remain what they were in the first place, one out of three. It just seems to the contestant that one box having been eliminated, he stands a better chance. Not so. It was always two to one against him. And if you ever get on my show, the rules hold fast for you -- no trading boxes after the selection.

Next time let's play on my home grounds. I graduated in chemistry and zoology. You want to know your chances of surviving with our polluted air and water?

Sincerely,
Monty

(In The American Statistician, August 1975, Vol. 29, No. 3, Selvin, Steve, © 1999-2006 Let's Make A Deal (A Joint Venture) All rights reserved.)

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The Mist Which Binds Me Still
May
25
to Jul 1

The Mist Which Binds Me Still

Max Wigram Gallery is pleased to present new work by British artist Richard Wathen.

Wathen’s seemingly innocent and literal way of painting appears to hark back to a concept of the ideal.  His works draw inspiration from a variety of art historical periods, mixed with disguised, self-fashioned autobiographic references.  Although obvious at first, it is impossible to put one’s finger on any specific stylistic source.  This, and the uncertain appearance and placement of his figures and animals in their surrounding space, create a distinct sense of unease.

The paintings adopt a wide view on the nature of individuality: they begin as self-portraits that take on the features of a host of faces from Wathen’s memory, which the artist intentionally distorts, mis-sizing anatomic details such as an eye or a hand, and portraying grey-haired pre-adolescents or lithe androgynous figures. In doing so he plays with viewers’ initial expectations of his work, but he also redefines his subjects’ personhood, in the same way physiognomies of the Renaissance interpreted facial structure as indicative of a persons’ character. Communicating both familiarity and incongruence through the simplest details, Wathen’s paintings have an ineffable appeal and fascination. His meticulous and weightless handling of paint appears to take up the brush in defence of traditional English portraiture but in reality anchors him firmly in contemporary culture through modern tonality, engagingly familiar but teasingly elusive figures, sinister yet idyllic landscapes and other unexpected elements.

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New Figuration
Sep
2
to Oct 29

New Figuration

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Arguably the most important commercial gallery in this district, Christina Wilson represents some of the world’s most prolific contemporary artists. Top names include French conceptual artist and photographer Sophie Calle, American painter Michael Williams, and home-grown video artist Jesper Just.

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The Valley is Broken
May
1
to Jun 16

The Valley is Broken

Salon 94 is pleased to present  “The Valley is Broken,” a New York debut exhibition of London based painter Richard Wathen. The exhibition will feature two full-length nude portraits, one of a young boy, and the other a girl, paired with a large-scale idyllic landscape painting, a small portrait of a young woman and a self-portrait.  Classic, yet arcane, the images invoke the Garden of Eden. Iris (2005) stands with a handful of flowers, while two butterflies and a snail dance at her feet. These scarce landscape elements,floating on the uniform green background, exist in her imagination- a protective landscape, her real space. Erin (2005) too stands within a flat barren space, holding a grey rabbit, a strange, neutral and expressionless pet. The characters in both portraits are lost yet contained in their own worlds, in a state of contemplation. The paintings hold names rather than titles. Who Iris and Erin are, their age, gender, time period, place, remains unanswered. Defying the tradition of the commissioned portrait, these names only hint toward an identity, in its most general terms.

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Unpeaceable Kingdom
Apr
29
to May 29

Unpeaceable Kingdom

Wathen paints haunting portraits of children, adults and animals against uniform, chiaroscuro backgrounds or idealised natural settings. Initially straightforward, Wathen uses the familiarity of subjects, techniques and compositions in old paintings to comfort the viewer with recognition. Yet on closer examination certain distortions or incongruous details reveal the image to be more complex. Amalgamations of fragments seamlessly collaged from a variety of sources, each portrait becomes a composite of Wathen’s imagination, a considered representation of his subconscious.

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Britannia Works
Apr
6
to May 29

Britannia Works

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Britannia Works is taking place at a time when the British art star system and its homogenising, publicity-driven tendencies have come under increasing criticism. The exhibition will present a wide cross-section of art, by artists of different ethnic origins, in the so-called post-‘yBa’ era. It will not be governed by any overarching curatorial concept, but will look at the individual contributions of artists, who may not necessarily be of British nationality, but have chosen to make Britain their home and place of work. Britannia Works will aim to give an idea of the range of art currently being made, and articulate a sense of the increasing openness that characterises the British art scene now, a reason why so many non-British artists are drawn to the UK. In that sense, the exhibition will try to steer clear of generalising notions of "Britishness" or homogenising definitions of “British art” and instead draw attention to the multi-faceted, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic perspectives that are an integral part of post-colonial UK. 

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I, Assassin
Feb
19
to Mar 27

I, Assassin

Slater Bradley, curator of ‘I, Assassin’, reproduces lengthy extracts from Michel Houellebecq’s novel Atomised (1999) and Henry Miller’s The Time of the Assassins (1946). Both pieces of writing describe the collapse of dominant ideologies; in Houellebecq these paradigm shifts come about through the unpredictable appearance of ‘metaphysical mutations’‚ while for Miller it is the poet who must accept responsibility for societal trans-formation. Bradley himself puts the hit man’s pistol in the hands of the art world, suggesting that when artists, curators, collectors, critics and dealers happen to train their sights on the same targets, some real damage can be done. ‘Their world blindly begins its downfall’‚ he writes, in emulation of Miller, ‘as they pull the trigger, one by one.’ Only time will tell whether ‘I, Assassin’ truly represents such a moment of deadly convergence - certainly, my world still seemed to be there last time I looked - but Bradley’s aim feels true none the less. Wallspace is a small gallery, and this looks at first glance like an unassuming exhibition, but the selection of work is more complex and demanding than its modest scale and calm arrangement might imply.

Words by Michael Wilson

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