Artists: David Bestué and Gabriele De Santis
Exhibition title: Upbeat Heights
Venue: Junefirst, Berlin, Germany
Date: June 20 – July 20, 2015
Photography: images courtesy of the artists and Junefirst, Berlin
Upbeat Heights is a zone of optimistic operations, a small hill in the terrain from which to look at the way things and words behave in culture, and expose the categories and relations within.
Gabriele De Santis and David Bestué explore, from their own singular perspectives, the social meaning of small things that shape up everyday contemporary culture, and the way they play out when tied together with an element of strong inherited value. The tradition of representation, its logics and reproduced functions, serves as the commonplace for present-day icons to be relocated in new situations and forced into unusual positions.
David Bestué’s work happens within the dimension of everyday things. His minimal interventions are subtle and ingenious gestures that use physical objects as elements of wordplay. Using a layer of simplicity, his imagery reveals the categories of sense to which different things belong. Thus, we are presented with artificial connections, like that of a branch forced into in a straight angle, demonstrating the system of technique compared to the organization of nature. In “Duck-duck” a fine line between refinement and kitsch is crossed with the shape of a duck made out of foie, turning a traditionally prized and exquisite food into a grotesque representation of itself. The same thing happens with “Granite-chipboard”, where a noble material and its imitation stand for the dynamic by which value is transferred, and the meanings its uses and versions acquire in the social space.
Gabriele De Santis uses traditional elements of artistic representation and submits them to a new logic. In his work, historically dignified materials become something else; they no longer support a work of art but rather become released of their duty and played with. Signs and icons of pop culture are placed onto them, and under them, taking them to the level of the global quotidian commodity.
In Gabriele’s work the traditional static weight of plinths and canvases are brought to motion by the roller skate wheels, as a series of iconic images display on the surface; signs with no intrinsic meaning but signifiers in social conventions or the codes of idioms. With the performance he presents at Junefirst, his latest works are enacted life: the classical medieval character of the harlequin is contrasted with the present day fashionable bike model, and relocated in the context of Berlin as a paradigm of urban lifestyle trend setting place.
Gabriele De Santis, ?!?!?!?!?!?!, 2014 / Little Ghetto Boys, 2014
Gabriele De Santis, ?!?!?!?!?!?!, 2014 (detail)
Gabriele De Santis, Little Ghetto Boys, 2014 (detail)
Gabriele De Santis, Portrait of a painting, 2015
David Bestué, Straight angle on a bush, 2011.
David Bestué, Laurel planted on onions, 2013
David Bestué, Duck-duck, 2012
David Bestué, Granite-chipboard, 2012