Ruth Asawa, Noah Davis, Barbara Kruger, Andra Ursuţa, and Portia Zvavahera are among the artists invited to the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, curated by Cecilia Alemani. Titled The Milk of Dreams, the exhibition will be on view from April 23–November 27, 2022, and takes its name from a book by Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington. Tau Lewis, whose exhibition at 52 Walker opens this fall, is also among the artists featured. Learn more at La Biennale di Venezia.
Among the national pavilions, Francis Alÿs will represent Belgium. The pavilion will be curated by Hilde Teerlinck, a curator at the Han Nefkens Foundation in Barcelona. Alÿs, whose work featured in the main exhibition at the Biennale Arte in 1999, 2001, and 2007, will present new work developed from his 2017 video Children’s Games #19: Haram Football. Learn more at the Belgian Pavilion.
Stan Douglas has been selected to represent Canada. Douglas’s work has previously been exhibited at the Biennale Arte in 1990, 2001, 2005, and 2019. Learn more at the National Gallery of Canada.
Concurrently with the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, the Palazzo Grassi in Venice will present open-end, a major monographic exhibition dedicated to Marlene Dumas, opening to the public on March 27, 2022. It is the latest in a cycle of monographic shows dedicated to major contemporary artists, launched in 2012 and alternating with thematic exhibitions of the Pinault Collection.
The exhibition is curated by Caroline Bourgeois in collaboration with Marlene Dumas; it brings together over 100 works and focuses on her whole pictorial production, with a selection of paintings and drawings created between 1984 and today, including unseen works made in the last few years. The exhibition will remain open to the public from March 27, 2022–January 8, 2023. Learn more from the Palazzo Grassi.
Congratulations to all eight of our artists whose work will be featured in Venice in 2022.
(New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong—July 16, 2020) David Zwirner is pleased to announce the global representation of the Romanian-born, New York–based artist Andra Ursuţa. Over the past decade, Ursuţa has gained recognition for her inventive sculptural work that mines the darker undercurrents of contemporary society. Drawing from memory, nostalgia, art history, and popular culture and employing a variety of media, the artist merges traditional sculptural processes and new technologies to transform commonplace objects and materials into viscerally evocative sculptures and installations that give new, redemptive forms to subjective experience.
As Ali Subotnick has written, “Memory, death, the human condition, and the absurdity and irony of life are all inspirations for the artist. Her work is ripe with emotion and contradictions—pathos and humor, melancholy and hope, raw and refined, hard and soft, aggressive and tender. It’s at times vulgar and political, poignant and wry, exotic and familiar.”1
A solo exhibition of Ursuţa’s work is scheduled for spring 2021 at David Zwirner’s Paris location.
David Zwirner states, “I was struck by Andra Ursuţa’s powerful presentation in last year’s Venice Biennale, which stayed with me. Later that fall I was encouraged by artists of the gallery to see Andra’s show at Ramiken. I went to Bushwick, and I can’t say it any other way: I was blown away. Thanks to Mike [Egan, of Ramiken] who invited me spontaneously to visit Andra in her studio right there and then. Not only is she a true artist’s artist, but her visionary work resonates in many ways and pushes the boundaries of sculpture into new and salient formal and narrative territories. We’re excited that Andra has joined the gallery and we’re looking forward to our first show together, which is scheduled for the spring of 2021 at our Paris gallery at 108, rue Vieille du Temple.”
1 Ali Subotnick, “Essay” for Hammer Projects: Andra Ursuta (Hammer Museum, University of California, Los Angeles, 2014). https://hammer.ucla.edu/exhibitions/2014/hammer-projects-andra-ursuta.Image: Andra Ursuţa, Installation view, May You Live In Interesting Times 58th International Art Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia, 2019
November 2, 2018–March 31, 2019
Andra Ursuţa (Romania, 1979) creates works which tackle controversial, thorny issues using a language with a register ranging from grotesque to tragicomic and satirical. She often draws from reality, true stories, or personal memories to address cultural stereotypes, personal relationships, and the social phenomena of violence, both physical and symbolic.
Vanilla Isis takes an irreverent look at the real and pretend extremisms manifest in contexts as disparate as terrorist groups and youth subcultures. Based on an analysis of the communicative strategies deployed by the Islamic State, whose internet-savvy appropriation of everything from computer games to Hollywood movie posters attracts vulnerable youths in the West, the show looks at how aesthetic trends migrate and are transformed or exploited to strange, unsettling effect. Riffing on the imagery used by Isis to attract followers, the works on view explore the mix of propaganda, seduction, and macho posturing that forms the recruitment language that Isis uses to speak to foreign audiences. It is the perspective of foreign, impressionable, and disaffected youth—the “vanilla” position—that the show focuses on, conjuring up a dark entertainment complex with its own music and sports equipment, where the playful and the bellicose, the recreational and the lethal, all become indistinguishable. The music is a cover of the Sex Pistols song “Anarchy” in the UK performed in the style of Isis anthems with highly processed, layered vocals; the display resembling sports equipment is Stoner (2013), a baseball-pitching machine modified to throw rocks at bruised fleshcolored tiled walls. Here the Isis flag, a faux-primitivist icon of contemporary anxiety, is recast in a series of absurdist pool floats that feature, instead of a proclamation of faith, a refrain from the Guns N’ Roses song “Welcome to the Jungle” from the album Appetite for Destruction: “Welcome to the jungle/ Watch it bring you to your / Shana… knees, knees / I wanna watch you bleed.” Language devolves into repetitive, meaningless vocalization, reduced to adorning deflated objects of leisure, dragging the lounger—or the viewer—straight to the bottom.
The authority of the flag further unravels in the paintings in which it becomes the logo of the punk band Black Flag, designed by Raymond Pettibon, or simply disintegrates into a grey floating mist in the middle of a blank canvas. An even more advanced stage of deterioration is evidenced in two sculptures cast in aluminum that reshape frayed, molten, billowing casts of flags as chairs: decrepit flying carpets for traveling only in the imagination, or worse, for a flight with no return.
April 16–June 19, 2016
This presentation is the first New York museum exhibition of the work of New York–based artist Andra Ursuţa (b. 1979). Ursuţa’s sculptures and installations thrive on paradox and engage a visual language that weaves an art historical homage with a homespun, anarchic sensibility. From early in her career, Ursuţa has used a fatalistic dark humor to expose power dynamics, to probe the vulnerability of the human body, and to examine modes of desire. The Romanian-born artist immigrated to the United States in the late 1990s, but many of the narrative facets of her upbringing—from occult folk traditions to blundering nationalist propaganda—resonate throughout her work. Ursuţa’s New Museum exhibition debuts a new sculptural installation, Alps (2016), which is presented in dialogue with the artist’s recent sculptures, including her series Whites (2015), which has its United States premiere in this show.
The sculptures that compose Whites take the form of anthropomorphic obelisks—bone-like shrunken monuments with eye sockets and nostrils cast from human skulls. Half figure and half stela, they haunt the gallery like ghosts and are seated on chairs whose designs reference periods of European colonialism. Ursuţa’s Alps transposes her obelisk-like figures to an artificial landscape that envelops the gallery space. Informed by stylized representations of natural landscapes—from indoor rock-climbing walls to the rocks depicted in Byzantine paintings—Alps flanks the walls of the gallery with craggy geometric forms jutting out like crystalline growths. The work’s title denotes a specific geographical feature: Europe’s Alps are a major natural barrier, which has taken on a new significance in light of current efforts by migrants to cross into western Europe. Seen alongside Whites, the squadron of forlorn obelisks that patrol the premises like specters of bygone imperialist ambitions, and the marble Roma women of Commerce Exterieur Mondial Sentimental (2012), Alps suggests a commentary on the impulse to guard and fortify borders. Cast in the surfaces of these pallid panels, pouches of bodily mass—in the shape of inflatable toy skeletons—appear suspended like flies in a web or frozen like fossilized bog bodies. Other skeletal cavities perforate the surface and, together with penis-shaped climbing holds, offer rude and morbid grips for a hypothetical climber.
In Commerce Exterieur Mondial Sentimental, life-size marble figures adorned with coins glare at the viewer with palpable contempt. Informed by a socialist-realist aesthetic and inspired by a news image of a Roma woman being deported from France, they evoke lifeless mannequins trapped in an economy in which the value of both human beings and commodities is determined by foreign powers. Scarecrow (2015), an unusual apparatus for a nonexistent sport, is part goalpost, part concrete flag: at its center is a cartoonish inflatable eagle, whose tumescent arms are pumped up in victory. In this work, a classic emblem of European nationalism is transformed into an icon of empty threats—a monument of imperial folly more than a real menace.