Dávila extended until 09.02. | #2611ARTatBerlin | König Galerie presents from 26th October 2019 the exhibition THE MOMENT OF SUSPENSION (in the Nave) by the artist Jose Dávila and the exhibition SINK, SANK, SUNK (in the Chapel) by the artist Michael Sailstorfer.
Over the course of a career spanning more than 20 years, Guadalajara-based Jose Dávila has engaged with the architecture, symbolism, and material integration of space. For his third solo exhibition at König Galerie, he has poised disparate kinds of lithic bodies—ranging from basalt stone and volcanic rock, to more quotidian materials like limestone and concrete—against each other to create a delicate interaction of volume and mass. Intimating utopian ideals, uncut rock and sculpted concrete are brought into uneasy congruence, realizing an equilibrium that holds differently weighted materials in place.
While the language of sculpture traditionally speaks to solidity and permanence, Dávila’s work evinces a decided fragility that contrasts with the density of the materials he puts to use. As though verging on the brink of collapse, his take on sculptural form introduces viewers to a clash of directional energies, resulting in a precarious appearance that undercuts monolithic stability. What comes to light is less a single unified object than an exchange of physical forces, a cross-section of elemental processes that refer to the inexorable law of gravity.
Dávila’s articulation of space mimics primal human behaviors, such as stacking and balancing, underscoring their capacity to express a collectively shared impulse toward construction. Several works in The Moment of Suspension feature uncut rock tethered to angular concrete blocks by a ratchet strap. An aura of weightlessness halos the topography of the linked stones. As individual works, these layered sculptures foreground the disintegrating influence of time, concretizing an entropic process that ends in perpetual stasis.
Places of meeting and points of intersection also constitute recurring aspects of Dávila’s work. His architectural eye recasts volume itself as a raw material, using vertical surfaces, rectangles, and spheroid shapes to signify development and growth. The makeshift stratification underlying each sculpture invokes the uniqueness of a once visited place, or remembered physique, preserving only its constructed essence.
A holistic attitude cuts through The Moment of Suspension. Every work on exhibit embodies an architectural rhythm where the vastness of geologic time becomes affixed to the spatial planes of a concrete surface. The necessary union of each element functions like the organs of a body, the vehicle of consciousness. Blending structural innovation with a cosmological understanding of duration, Dávila shows how individuated parts relate to an overarching design. If the microcosm is removed, the macrocosm collapses.
Text: Jeffrey Grunthaner
Jose Dávila was born in Guadalajara, Mexico in 1974. He studied architecture in the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente in Guadalajara, Mexico, however, he considers himself a self-taught artist,with an intuitive formation.
His work was part of the Getty’s PST LA/LA triennial in Los Angeles and has been exhibited in at Sammlung Philara, Düsseldorf; Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, DE; Marfa Contemporary, Marfa, USA, Savannah College of Art and Design; Gemeentemuseum, Den Haag; Museum Voorlinden, AG Wassenaar, Nederland, Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo MUAC, Mexico City; Caixa Forum, Madrid; MoMA PS1, New York; Kunstwerke, Berlin; San Diego Museum of Art; Museo de Arte Reina Sofia,Madrid; MAK, Vienna, Fundación/ Colección JUMEX, Mexico City; Bass Museum of Art, Miami; Museu do Arte Moderna, Sao Paulo; The Moore Space, Miami; NICC,Antwerp, among others; and has been featured in international publications such as Cream 3, ed. Phaidon, 100 Latin-American Artists, ed. Exit and The Feather and The Elephant, ed. Hatje Cantz. Jose Dávila has been awarded with the Baltic Artists’ Award in 2017. In 2020 Dávila opens solo exhibitions at Dallas Contemporary, Dallas and Fondazione Internazionale per la Scultura in Switzerland.
Michael Sailstorfer, Antrieb, 2019, gasoline engine, butterfly, 70 x 100 x 80 cm (detail)
In the vestibule of St. Agnes hangs not a font but a minimalist, square-edged kitchen sink. Beneath the mirror-like surface of its still water, it is gradually dissolving. There’s no way of telling exactly when it will start to drip, nor how long the processes took that gave the stone-like material its particular form. The water-filled salt-stone receptacle welcomes the observer with reserve as the water molecules seep slowly into its salt crystals. In Sink (2019), the geological temporality exercised in the huge pressure of earth sediments temporarily reaches its current contingent form. Shaped much like a standard metal kitchen sink, the sculpture is as unobtrusive as its gradual dissolution.
The work’s protractedness, emphasis or undermining of material qualities and distribution of agency are key characteristics of Michael Sailstorfer’s practice more generally. Over the last twenty years, they have been fundamental to his explorations of the potential of sculpture as a medium, in ever-new quests for playfully serious ambivalence. His seventh solo show at KÖNIG GALERIE takes its title from the salt-stone sink described above. Representing an interim status of a long, ongoing process, Sink, Sank, Sunk also emphasises a semantics of finitude, which seems of worrying relevance at the moment.
For all its environmental references, the visual vocabulary of this exhibition resists simplistic patterns of explanation. The works on show blur any clear distinctions by offering a true reflection of the inseparable interactions of various actors. Above the reception area hang eight dark bronze casts the shape and size of lightbulbs. The unique materiality and surface of Batterie-Feld (2019), however, stem from the different practices and practitioners interrelate. They were created by placing wax moulds of lightbulbs in suitably scaled hives and leaving honey-bees to work on them until their industrial appearance had been totally covered with island-shaped honeycombs. Their forms were then cast in bronze and sandblasted. The resulting hybrid objects constantly oscillate between technical and animal production, their material qualities become interchangeable.
Where the focus is on the natural world, nature is quite obviously attached to artistic practice and consequently has connotations of being culturally permeated. Two sparsely hung, detailed plant sketches — Distel and Brennnessel (2019) — initially seem call to mind the aesthetics of early modern nature observation and ideals of the beauty of nature. But their substrate emphasises their artificiality: the industrially-produced sandpaper on which they were rendered resisted the movements of the stylus, turning the friction between the materials into an expression of the special capabilities of these plant species, which sting when touched. The strokes of the drawings capture a multi-faceted moment of conflict: their endangered materiality is exposed to obliteration and refers not only to the limits of human appropriation of nature but also to its potentially destructive effects.
The main work of the exhibition is Antrieb (2019), which provides a more obvious depiction of the techno-material conditions of the construction and destruction of nature, and their relation to a specific economic system. In the centre of the chapel stands a fully intact, fully functional petrol engine. Before its dark form flutters a blood-red butterfly, dancing in the swirls of a ventilator. Pinned to the carburettor, the preserved creature makes disturbing movements that offer flash impressions of the inventive downside of utilitarian practices: a complex, relational understanding of materiality and vitality. Sailstorfer’s latest works stand in opposition to clear-cut dichotomies: the biological and cultural are represented as permeating each other; a life outside of technicality seems impossible. The entanglement of various actors and the possibilities of affective connection created by their material-aesthetic effects prompt us to consider more suitable forms of common action.
Text: Maria Bremer
Michael Sailstorfer (b. 1979 in Velden, Germany) lives and works in Berlin. He holds an MA in Fine Arts from Goldsmiths, University of London (2003-2004).
He belongs to the most important contemporary artist from Germany. His work has been displayed in numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout the world, including RIBOCA1, Riga Biennale, Riga, Latvia (2018), Silver Cloud, Studio Michael Sailstorfer, Berlin (2017); It might as well be spring, Rochester Art Center, Rochester, Minn. USA (2014); B-Seite, Haus am Waldsee, Berlin (2014); Every piece is a new problem, CAC Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati (2014); Forst, Vattenfall Contemporary, Berlinische Galerie, Berlin (2012); Tornado, Public Art Fund New York, Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Central Park, New York City (2011); Raum und Zeit, S.M.A.K. Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent (2011); Forst, Kestnergesellschaft, Hannover (2010); 10 000 Steine, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt/Main (2008); Und sie bewegt sich doch!, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich (2002).
Vernissage: Friday, 25th October 2019, 6 – 8 pm
Exhibition period: Saturday, 26th October to Friday, 20 December 2019 – ATTENTION Jose Dávila extended until 9th February 2020!
Exhibition Jose Dávila + Michael Sailstorfer – König Galerie | Zeitgenössische Kunst in Berlin | Contemporary Art | Exhibitions Berlin Galleries – ART at Berlin