post-title Isa Melsheimer | false ruins and lost innocence | Esther Schipper | 06.12.2020-16.01.2021

Isa Melsheimer | false ruins and lost innocence | Esther Schipper | 06.12.2020-16.01.2021

Isa Melsheimer | false ruins and lost innocence | Esther Schipper | 06.12.2020-16.01.2021

Isa Melsheimer | false ruins and lost innocence | Esther Schipper | 06.12.2020-16.01.2021

until 16.01. | #2932ARTatBerlin | Esther Schipper shows from 6th December 2020 the exhibition false ruins and lost innocence with works by the artist Isa Melsheimer. It is the third solo show of the artist with the gallery.

The exhibition entitled false ruins and lost innocence comprises three large-format ceramics, textile works and a series of gouaches. Isa Melsheimer is well known for her exploration of the history of architectural styles, her works reflect both her intensive research and form-based investigations. The artist, whose work is concerned with modernist, post-modern and brutalist aesthetics, has increasingly introduced organic elements into buildings in recent years – influenced by her reading of post-human theoretical debates as well as by her examination of metabolic architecture, a movement that has its origins in 1960s Japan. Isa Melsheimer’s works carry her far-reaching associations with ease: personal, literary, historical, philosophical, architectural references are dissolved in an intense materiality.

Three large-format ceramics draw on existing buildings: the artist gives these groundbreaking structures an “inner” life that refers to theoretical debates in architectural discourse. For example, one of Le Corbusier’s works, “Villa Shobhan” (Ahmedabad, 1951-56), juxtaposes a horse’s head from the gable of the Greek Parthenon, ca. 438 BC, and thus introduces an organic element into the “living machine”, as Le Corbusier called a house. Similarly, for a second work, Boston’s brutalist town hall is flanked by huge, statuesque human legs and houses clusters of small post-modern ruins in its depths. Inside a third work, an airy building by a young Vietnamese architectural firm, a small forest of trees seems to grow.

ART at Berlin - Courtesy of Esther Schipper - -c- Isa Melsheimer
© Isa Melsheimer 

The new sculptures are the artist’s largest and most technically complex ceramics to date. Similar to her characteristic use of concrete, Isa Melsheimer, who began working with ceramics in 2013, has expanded the boundaries of this craft in terms of scale and technique and has made the medium completely her own. The architectural structures are filled with unexpected sculptural details and colourful glazes that evoke fantastic microcosms. It is a world where it is not surprising that tree stumps grow inside houses and buildings contain human and non-human elements.

A series of gouaches, also in a new, larger format, introduces art historical motifs into her paintings of architectural landmarks: Fragments from works by Piero della Francesca and Perugino enrich them with motifs from a classical canon of painting.

The new textile work, which is hung near the entrance to the exhibition room, combines embroidery with photographs of human forms, animals and plants. A ceramic horse head and an uprooted topiary tree in front of the textile work, which serves as a visual partition, form the starting point of the exhibition.

The title of the exhibition, false ruins and lost innocence, is taken from an influential lecture by the architectural historian Charles Jencks, who criticised the classicist elements of James Sterling’s 1977-84 extension of the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart and laconically remarked: “One can sit on these false ruins and ponder the truth of our lost innocence”.

Isa Melsheimer was born in 1968 in Neuss, Germany. The artist lives and works in Berlin. Melsheimer studied at the Berlin University of the Arts from 1991 to 1997 and was a master student in the class of Georg Baselitz.
The artist has received numerous scholarships and residencies, including Fogo Island Arts Residency in 2017, the Marianne Werefkin Prize Berlin 2015, the Fellowship of the German Academy Villa Massimo in Rome 2013, Artist in Residence of the Goethe Institute Lisbon 2012, the Art Prize of the City of Nordhorn in 2008, a residency at the Villa Aurora in Los Angeles in 2007 and the fellowship of The Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas in 2005.
Recent solo exhibitions of the artist include The Unpleasant State of Texture, KINDL – Centre for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2020); Metabolites, Kunstverein Heppenheim, Heppenheim (2018); Psychotropic Landscapes, Städtische Galerie Delmenhorst, Delmenhorst (2018); The Year of the Whale, Fogo Island Gallery, Fogo Island (2018); The Dead Palace Shivered – Shivered! Mies van der Rohe House, Berlin (2017); Kontrastbedürfnis, Ernst-Barlach-Haus, Hamburg (2015); We live in townscape and, after a trek, we shop in Futurism, art3 – art contemporain, Valence (2015); Examination of the Origins, Quartz Studio, Turin (2015); Synapses, ikop Museum of contemporary art, Eupen (2014); Vermilion Sands and other Stories from the Neon West, Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica (2012); Isa Melsheimer, Carré d’art – musée d’art contemporain, Nîmes (2010), and Mittelland, Kunsthaus Langenthal (2010).
The works of Isa Melsheimer are represented in the following collections: Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent; European Patent Office, Munich; Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Deutsche Bank Collection, Frankfurt; Künstlerhaus Schloss Balmoral, Stiftung Rheinland-Pfalz, Bad Ems; Arp Museum Bahnhof Rolandseck, Remagen; Carré d’Art – Musée d’art contemporain de Nîmes, Nîmes; MUDAM Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg; CNAP Centre National des Arts Plastiques, Paris

Exhibition start: Sunday, 6 December 2020, noon – 6:00 p.m. (Sunday open)

Exhibition dates: Saturday, 6 December 2020 – Saturday, 16 January 2021

To the gallery



Image caption: © Isa Melsheimer

Exhibition Isa Melsheimer – Esther Schipper | Zeitgenössische Kunst in Berlin | Contemporary Art | Exhibitions Berlin Galleries | ART at Berlin

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