Ger van Elk at Markus Lüttgen

Ger van Elk_Installation View_6_Markus Luettgen Gallery

Artist: Ger van Elk

Venue: Markus Lüttgen, Cologne, Germany

Date: October 29 – December 10, 2016

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Markus Lüttgen

“I make my own poems. Even though I don’t write them down, I do give shape to them.” –Ger van Elk

As part of his third solo show with the 2014 deceased Dutch artist Ger van Elk, Markus Lüttgen is presenting a major selection of works from 1968 to 2012. Supplemented by two selected pieces from Van Elk’s late work, the exhibition focusses on a central group of the artist’s early conceptual work.

Van Elk (b. 1941) – alongside Jan Dibbets and Bas Jan Ader – is one of the key figures of Dutch Concept Art, who developed since the early 60s a free and independent position in relation to the prevailing traditions of artistic productions. At the same time his works highlight an artistic approach whose marks can be traced alongside a comprehensive exhibition history.

Earnest, radical, witty and perceived as always engaged in a constant quest for evaluating their own media, his sculptures and installations can be positioned in opposition to classical conceptions of genres and material. „Touwsculptuur“ (Rope sculpture, 1968), a taut rope, with a number of ropes draped loosely in bowes almost reaching down to the gallery floor investigates his reevaluation of artistic media. For Van Elk, form as well as material of the 1960s does not correspond to the usual elements of classical sculptures such as gold, bronze or marble, but challenge the beholder within a changing definition of artistic resources. His work rather seems to detach itself from a commitment to a functional perception of art. Like the rope sculptures, “Piece Made in One Hour“ (1968)’s indicated time period and reduced composition subtly undermines an aura of artistic creation. A missing material-hierarchy that showcases Van Elk’s commitment to both, Arte Povera and Minimalism, identifies itself at the same time as a formal reference to his own body of work. Likewise, the used square shape and the tiles visually and substantively repeats the artist’s later contributions to the pioneering exhibitions ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ by Wim Beeren at the Stedelijk Museum (1969) and ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ organized by Swiss curators Harald Szeeman at the Kunsthalle Bern (1969). The lace – used besides the tiles and sailcloth – also presents itself as a multiple reference to the artist’s Dutch cultural heritage.

In parallel to Van Elk’s investigation into the formal and material aesthetic of three-dimensional art works, his 16mm film-based pieces of the late 1960s transfer the subject of his analysis to the questioning of the parameters of visual perception. „Het opompen van de linkervoot door de rechter“ (The Pumping of the Left Foot by the Right, 1969) forces the viewer to redirect his attention to the ground floor to discover the mirror-inverted reflection of a film projector onto a floor-cloth.

„Los Angeles Freeway Flyer“ (1973), that shows colored contact prints of US freeways wrapped around six walking sticks which were taken by Van Elk during his study visits to LA, also request a profound change of visual perception. Equally to the two selected pieces of his late work, „Talking Trees“ (2004) and „Conclusion“ (2012), his projections emphasize his partially ironic examination of the difference between cinematic and photographic images as well as between reality and reproduction.

–Philipp Fernandes do Brito

Ger van Elk_Installation View_1_Markus Luettgen Gallery

Ger van Elk_Installation View_2_Markus Luettgen Gallery

Ger van Elk_Installation View_3_Markus Luettgen Gallery

Ger van Elk_Installation View_4_Markus Luettgen Gallery

Ger van Elk_Installation View_5_Markus Luettgen Gallery

Ger van Elk_Installation View_6_Markus Luettgen Gallery

Ger van Elk_Installation View_7_Markus Luettgen Gallery

Ger van Elk_Installation View_8_Markus Luettgen Gallery

Ger van Elk_Installation View_9_Markus Luettgen Gallery

Ger van Elk_LA Freeway Flyer_1999_Markus Luettgen Gallery

Ger van Elk, Los Angeles Freeway Flyer (1999), 1973-1999, Contact print (color), wrapped around six walking sticks, 68,5 x 505 cm

Ger van Elk_LA Freeway Flyer_1999_Markus Luettgen Gallery_Detail_1

Ger van Elk, Los Angeles Freeway Flyer (1999), 1973-1999, Contact print (color), wrapped around six walking sticks, 68,5 x 505 cm

Ger van Elk_LA Freeway Flyer_1999_Markus Luettgen Gallery_Detail_2

Ger van Elk, Los Angeles Freeway Flyer (1999), 1973-1999, Contact print (color), wrapped around six walking sticks, 68,5 x 505 cm

Ger van Elk_Piece Made in One Hour_1968_Markus Luettgen Gallery_View_1

Ger van Elk, Piece Made in One Hour, 1968, Wodden joints, tiles, sailcloth, lace, 31 x 100 x 100 cm

Ger van Elk_Piece Made in One Hour_1968_Markus Luettgen Gallery_View_2

Ger van Elk, Piece Made in One Hour, 1968, Wodden joints, tiles, sailcloth, lace, 31 x 100 x 100 cm

Ger van Elk_Rope Sculpture_1968_Markus Luettgen Gallery

Ger van Elk, Rope Sculpture, 1968, Rope and cord, Variable dimensions

Ger van Elk_Talkin Trees-Window_2004_Markus Luettgen Gallery

Ger van Elk, Talking Trees-Window, 2004, Edition 4/5, LCD screen 15 inch, 55 x 62 cm

Ger van Elk_Talkin Trees-Window_2004_Markus Luettgen Gallery_Detail_1

Ger van Elk, Talking Trees-Window, 2004, Edition 4/5, LCD screen 15 inch, 55 x 62 cm

Ger van Elk_The Pumping of the Left Foot by the Right_1969_Markus Luettgen Gallery

Ger van Elk, The Pumping of the Left Foot by the Right, 1969, S-8 mm transferred to 16 mm color film, loop, projected onto floor-cloth

Ger van Elk_Conclusion_2012_Markus Luettgen Gallery

Ger van Elk, Conclusion, 2012, Acrylic paint on photograph on canvas, 123 x 126 x 5,7 cm

Ger van Elk_Conclusion_2012_Markus Luettgen Gallery_Detail_1

Ger van Elk, Conclusion, 2012, Acrylic paint on photograph on canvas, 123 x 126 x 5,7 cm

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