Place Vendôme at Berthold Pott

Artists: Florian Auer, Jonathan Binet, Giulia Cenci, Isaac Lythgoe, Athena Papadopoulos

Exhibition title: Place Vendôme

Venue: Berthold Pott, Cologne, Germany

Date: September 6 – October 5, 2019

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artists and Berthold Pott, Cologne

On Friday, 6 September, the gallery Berthold Pott in Cologne will open the group exhibition Place Vendôme in conjunction with this year’s DC Opens. The group exhibition includes works by the Italian artist Giulia Cenci (b. 1987), the London-based Canadian artist Athena Papadopoulos (b. 1988), the Berlin-based artist Florian Auer (b. 1984), the French artist Jonathan Binet (b. 1985) and the London-based British artist Isaac Lythgoe (b. 1989).

The sculptures by Isaac Lythgoe reveal narrative and at times apocalyptic characteristics. Partly hidden behind a pane of glass, the poison-green head of a man protrudes out of a deep frame in front of a copper-coloured panel – more a mask than a face – and seems to curiously peer out into what is taking place in front of him. Just as many of Lythge’s sculptures refer to fictional and mythological contexts, the expression, colour and facial features of the work on view are reminiscent of Stanley Ipkiss in the 1984 film The Mask (1984).

Human fragments can also be discovered in the works of Athena Papadopoulos; legs, shoes and boots can be clearly identified and likewise suggest an occurrence. References to the fate of her grandmother, whose leg had to be amputated, become apparent and are intentional. In her work Ants Piss, comprised of three pairs of legs covered with coloured fabrics, a wide variety of materials have been used: Avian bones, pregnancy tests and confetti, for example, can be discovered under a transparent layer of synthetic resin. This bizarre and quirky ensemble is rich in associations and offers the basis for possible connections and stories. Two other sculptures are comprised of an intertwined construct of ribbons and wires and recall a mixture of canopy bed and animal, which with four legs and a curled tail suggests something alive and seems to float on an old, wheeled tea trolley.

Giulia Cenci’s sculptures hang on the wall like pipes or protrude into the room like branches. With their transparent-white rubber coatings and fine, asphalt-coloured volcanic ash, they appear highly organic, almost like bones with joints, tendons and ligaments. The works are distributed throughout the exhibition space, at times very close to the ground and at other times positioned high on the wall.

Florian Auer is represented in the exhibition with a large light work, two paintings and a wall sculpture. His new paintings make use of a visual language that oscillates between digitally generated textures and layers of colour, thereby creating new, completely unique pictorial realities. Digital three-dimensionality creates the illusion of perspectives and volumes, which the artist complements, paints over, takes apart and reassembles.

Jonathan Binet’s panel paintings live from the bipolarity of heaviness and lightness. Recesses and ‘omissions’ in his compositions open up insights and perspectives into the constructions of the frame behind them, as well as to the processes of their creation. Illusions of volume and the physical are created by sprayed clouds of colour. The seemingly light canvases are supported or surrounded by massive, raw steel frames, which lends the paintings a sculptural and object-like dimension. On closer inspection, minimal, seemingly ‘faulty’ compositions come to light, such as fragments of canvas hanging out or penetrating substructure details that seem to shift the overall composition into a state of controlled imbalance.

The exhibition ensemble as a whole results in a bizarre scenario that seems to tell of the past and the fateful, but also conveys a sense of lightness and attention to detail: light, floating, screaming, warning, as on the great central squares of the metropolises, such as the Place Vendôme in Paris, where jewellery and craftsmanship, tradition, fashion, family dynasties and fates have gathered for centuries and where hopes, love and zeitgeist manifest themselves – as in the eponymous French film Place Vendôme from 1998 with Catherine Deneuve and Jacques Dutronc.

Florian Auer, 1984, lives and works in Berlin, Selected Solo Exhibitions: Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler Berlin (2019, 2016, 2014, 2012), Städtische Galerie Nordhorn 2028 (Kunstpreis der Stadt Nordhorn, 2017), Piktogram Warsaw (2017), Sismografo, Porto (2016), Albertinum, Dresden (2016), Salon Kennedy (mit Yves Scherer, 2015), Kunstverein Braunschweig (2014), S.M.A.K., Gent (2013), Liste Art Fair, Basel (2013)

Jonathan Binet, 1985, lives and works in Paris, Selected Solo Exhibitions: Berthold Pott Köln (upcoming 2020, 2017), Balice/Hertling , Paris (2019, 2016), Palais de Terre, Paris (2016), Bonner Kunstverein (2015), Carl Kostyal, London (2015), Kunsthalle Sankt Gallen (2015), Art Basel Statements (2013), Gaudel da Stampa, Paris (2013), Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2012)

Giulia Cenci, 1988, born in Cortona (I), lives and works in Amsterdam, Selected Solo Exhibitions: Art Basel Statements with SpazioA:  (2019), Kunst Merano Arte, Merano, Italy (2019), SpazioA Pistoia, Italy (2017, 2014, 2013), Carreras Mugica (Hall), Bilbao Spain (2017), De Ateliers, Amsterdam, NL (2017), Ausgewählte Gruppenausstellungen: 15th Lyon Biennale curated by Palais de Tokyo, Museo Novecento, Florence (2018), Museo Palazzo Fortuny, Venice (2018), Fondazione Baruchello, Rome (2018)

Isaac Lythgoe, 1989, lives and works in London, Selected Solo Exhibitions: Liste Art Fair with Super Dakota (solo, 2019), Super Dakota Brussels (solo, upcoming 2020), Piktogram Warsaw (group, 2019),  Exo Exo, Paris (solo, 2017), Dash Kortrijk (group, 2019), “Michael Jackson on the wall” National Portrait Gallery London and Bundeskunsthalle Bonn (2019)

Athena Papadopoulos, 1988 born in Toronto, lives and works in London, Selected Solo Exhibitions: TBC, Mostyn, Wales (upcoming 20209, TBC Liebaert Projects, Kortrijk, Belgium (upcoming 2019), Kunsthalle Lisbon, Portugal (2019), Humber Street Gallery, Hull, UK (2019), Emalin London (2017, 2015), CURA Rom (2017),  Shoot the Lobster, NY (2016), Supportico Lopez Berlin (2015), Zabludowicz Collection London (2015), Selected Group Exhibitions: The institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), Los Angeles, USA (upcoming 2020), Drawing Room London (2019).