Christiane Löhr, Jonathan Monk, Jan van der Ploeg - Kunsthaus Baselland

Christiane Löhr (b. 1965), who lives and works in Prato (Italy) and Cologne (Germany), creates light yet complex sculpture and architecture from natural materials. These works are striking for their highly varied size and composition; they can function as autarkic images as well as elements within a space. Permanence and Löhr’s materials’ inherent volatility or temporality find a particular and highly poetic connection in her works. For her first solo exhibition presentation in Switzerland, Löhr is developing a route following works through the Kabinett galleries of the Kunsthaus Baselland. There will also be new works on view which have been created on site by the artist with selected organic materials, works that enter a dialogue with the architectural givens of the Kunsthaus.

„(...) Contrary to the heaviness and the physical and environmental gravity of much contemporary sculpture, the aspiration of this German artist is to express (...) a sense of delicacy and evanescence, softness and lightness. She narrates the sensitive, euphoric quality of vegetable and animal vibrancy and its alteration, which is entrusted to her tactful, tender attention. These slight, delicate sculptures give body to foamy, floating forms whose fascinating tactile presence create a luminous harmony in their context. Hers is an art that gives rise to volumes and images seductive in skin-like softness and the blooming of substances. An art gentle and at the same time potent, expressing the drama of the calm of material transformed by stupendous, vigorous expression to revivify our modes of feeling and conceiving sculpture.“ (Germano Celant, in: L’Espresso, Rome, No. 24, 17.6.2010)

In his solo presentation Jonathan Monk (b. 1969, lives in Rome and Berlin) will engage explicitly with the conditions of an exhibition. What part does the model of a planned exhibition play? What might the possibilities be for an artist if all their works and prior exhibition situations were available to them and could be integrated without having to avail of the help of collectors, galleries or an extensive exhibition budget either? What are the expectations an artist is exposed to, be they from without or from the artist himself or herself, in realising a solo exhibition that takes place during the course of the internationally renowned ART Basel fair to boot? Which questions can be posed at this moment in time in particular? Last but not least come questions of the original, copy and reinterpretation which the internationally active artist Monk poses in his works, often fundamentally challenging them with humour and serious thought too. The media that he applies vary according to the questions he poses and the chosen topic, and range from photography, film, performance, video, sculpture, mail art to the use of everyday production and communication methods.

“(...) The challenge lies in consciously and ironically embracing the inspirations and anecdotes of modern and contemporary art which had led Monk to propose his own alternative models of the artist in particular and the way art is interpreted in general. Whenever Monk is demythifying creation, there is always a clear interest in the undifferentiated role of the artist. With considerable humor and a deep understanding of the implication of social reality in the work of art, Monk is addressing the human trace and mythical destiny, at the same time raising questions linked to “contexts” and “non- contexts,” identity and so on, notions which, nowadays, are significant contributors
to the mechanism of modern art.(...)” (Evelyne Jouanno, in: Flash Art 98).

Jan van der Ploeg (b. 1959, lives in Amsterdam) is currently one of the best-known contemporary artists in the field of mural painting. For his first institutional appearance in Switzerland he will develop two new work cycles specifically for the Kunsthaus Baselland. These will occupy several hundred square metres of the Kunsthaus’ ground level and enable not just privileged insight into his creative practice but also reveal the enormous potential of his work. The two work cycles are, on the one hand, representative of his works, but on the other hand they also signal an important new direction in his practice: creating a dynamic dialogue with a given situation so that the boundaries between wall drawing, painting, sculpture and architecture disappear.

‘‘Brilliant, imposing, pulsating, grandiose, occupying the whole space’ – these are the words and phrases that pop up all the time in reviews and commentaries on Jan van der Ploeg’s wall painting. [...] Jan van der Ploeg’s wall painting are perhaps something like a projection space, a visual echo chamber, that makes something tangible: that abstraction and geometry are among the most elementary forms of expression in art and culture.’

(Excerpt from Renate Wiehanger’s text in the catalogue which will be published in Spring 2016).

Christiane Löhr, Jonathan Monk, Jan van der Ploeg
Kunsthaus Baselland, May 27 - July 17

Contribution by Marialuisa Pastò.