about the artists
b. 1964, Aylesbury, England.
One of the most important figures in international contemporary art, Liam Gillick works across diverse forms, including sculpture and installation. A theorist, curator and educator as well as an artist, his wider body of work includes published essays and texts, lectures, curatorial and collaborative projects, all of which inform (and are informed by) his art practice. Gillick’s line of enquiry is into conditions of production, including how it continues to operate in a post-industrial landscape: questions of economy, labour and social organisation are ongoing preoccupations. He is perhaps best-known for producing sculptural objects – platforms, screens, models, benches, prototypes, signage, or structural supports made from sleek modular Plexiglas and aluminium forms in standardised colours from the RAL system. These seductive materials speak the language of renovation and development: originally refined by the military, they’ve been widely used in corporate interiors since the 1990s, a decade in which post-industrial societies saw a shift from the collective to the individualist and privatised. Drawing upon engineering and industrial design as well as the legacy of hard-edged minimalism, these abstract quasi-architectural forms offer a critique of neo-liberal or corporate aesthetics, automation and endless (re)development. Focusing on secondary or incomplete forms such as screens and platforms, Gillick pinpoints structures which have a potential to destabilise the power of architecture and the architecture of power, creating generative spaces for discussion or the development of ideas.
b. 1963, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Siobhán Hapaska’s sculptures present a powerful investigation of conflict, faith and the human condition. Her work uses a dazzling array of materials, each loaded with history and multiple readings: olive trees, deerskins, coconuts, wheat, moss and sheepskin come into contact with sleek aerodynamic forms, aluminium, engines, artillery, concrete cloth and industrial machinery. Ushering these disparate materials into forms that feel anthropomorphic or animalistic, the resulting works spark humour and pathos, reflecting upon our place in a world filled with violent opposing forces and conflicting ideologies. Sometimes kinetic, moving or shaking, many of Hapaska’s works reference travel, rootlessness or displacement, with trees uprooted and plants cast among strange mutant landscapes of opalescent fibreglass. Though they carry a sense of disquiet, her works are always a testament to the perseverance of hope, desire and longing in the face of adverse global conditions and political or spiritual unrest, often undershot with a dark wit, a playfulness, and a devotion to physical objects as transmitters of empathy and emotion.
b.1960, Cardiff, Wales.
Merlin James' frame paintings on gauzy, sheer material treat the structure of the picture frame and stretcher bar as an integral part of the work, while works on canvas might be collaged with tufts of hair or sawdust, distressed, pierced, cropped or heavily overpainted. Also an erudite and thoughtful critic, James has a deep engagement with the history of art and this knowledge shapes and informs his practice. His works refine and renew many of painting’s most time-honoured concerns – genre and narrative, pictorial space and expressive gesture, the emotive resonance of colour and texture.
Merlin James approaches the history and legacy of painting with a highly considered and unconventional viewpoint. As commented by Artforum’s Sherman Sam, his work “has sought to rigorously problematise the experience of painting while simultaneously deepening its formal language”. Generally small in scale, his works depict diverse subject matter including vernacular architecture, riverside views, post-industrial landscapes, empty interiors, mysterious figures and scenes of sexual intimacy.
b. 1985, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.
Sam Keogh works with installation, sculpture, performance, drawing and collage. Live performances unfold in intricate built environments: installations incorporating diverse materials, from collages and painted panels to plastic skeletons, ceramics to gunge-soaked computer desks, sculptures of severed hands and discarded apple cores, plants and bits of rubbish.
These grotesque concoctions of image, object and detritus serve as props and visual cues for performances, but spill over with idiosyncratic detail and extraneous information – the physical remnants of a fictional world, they present an indeterminate space in which materials, memories and affects begin to smudge into each other.
b. 1951, Dublin, Ireland.
Since the very beginning of his career in the 1970s, Brian Maguire has approached painting as an act of solidarity. He operates a truly engaged practice, compelled by the raw realities of humanity’s violence against itself, and the potential for justice. Maguire’s preoccupations draw him to the margins of the art world—alternative space, prisons, women’s shelters, and psychiatric institutions—making shows in traditional gallery and museum spaces something of a rarity. Maguire’s most recent paintings directly confront issues of migration, displacement and human dignity in the face of the current global unrest. They are some of his most nuanced and ambitious to date, which he has crafted with larger brushes and thinned-down acrylic on canvas. He works slowly, using photographic sources, searching for that point where illustration ceases and art begins. This growing contrast between the seductive painterly aesthetic and the subject matter only adds to the potential impact of these formidable canvases.
b. 1974, Dublin, Ireland.
Isabel Nolan has an expansive practice that incorporates sculptures, paintings, textile works, photographs, writing and works on paper. Her subject matter is similarly comprehensive, taking in cosmological phenomena, religious reliquaries, Greco-Roman sculptures and literary/historical figures, examining the behaviour of humans and animals alike. These diverse artistic investigations are driven by intensive research, but the end result is always deeply personal and subjective. In concert, her works give generous form to fundamental questions about the ways the world is made meaningful through human activity.
b. 1954, Manchester, United Kingdom.
Paul Winstanley is a painter who uses the ostensibly traditional genres of Landscape / Interior / Still Life / Figure / to create works of conceptual rigour that present the relationship of the viewer to the painting as central to the content of the work. At once methodical and melancholic his painterly depictions of landscapes, walkways, veiled windows, TV Lounges, art school studios and individuals distracted in contemplation are rendered in an exacting and subtle palette. Training initially as an abstract and minimalist painter Winstanley reversed the usual trend of early 20th century artists by moving back towards a new, more self aware representational work. His paintings however do retain much of the aesthetic qualities of the earlier abstraction in their pictorial organisation and minimalist feel. His paintings draw as much from historical northern European artists such as Caspar David Friedrich, Vermeer and Vilhelm Hammershoi as contemporary, more conceptual practitioners such as Richard Hamilton. The images Winstanley creates contain a sense of imposed order as well as an atmosphere of abandonment or expectation and of time inexorably passing.
ART BASEL UNLIMITED
The installation refers to the industrial areas normally found on the outskirts of urban centres throughout the world in the 1990s. Partially due to vast, low rental price premises and partially due to their geographical location – being a certain distance from residential neighbourhoods – those half-abandoned, half-experimental spaces produced their own treasures: great night clubs.
Playing with scale Liam Gillick reconstructs these marginal sites using architectural models, and a simple sound and lighting system. A vital component of the exhibition is sawdust, which covers the surrounding area. The sawdust here operates as a stand-in for gravel but is also a waste product from a production process. Gillick first used sawdust twenty years ago referring to the English habit of covering pubs floors with the material, to soak up spilt beer, spit, or blood from a fight.
In collaboration with Alfonso Artiaco, Naples; Gallery Baton, Seoul; Casey Kaplan, New York; Kerlin Gallery, Dublin; Maureen Paley, London; Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich/New York; and Esther Schipper, Berlin.