Critics’ Picks

Miriam Laura Leonardi, Angels of Chaos 1, 2016, mixed media, 90 x 39 x 31".

Miriam Laura Leonardi, Angels of Chaos 1, 2016, mixed media, 90 x 39 x 31".


Miriam Laura Leonardi

Galerie Maria Bernheim
Limmatstrasse 257
September 10–October 29, 2016

The white cube is a space that, in essence, does not want to be there. It must renounce itself in favor of the exhibited or performed works. It is a complicated nonplace in which art first nests and then flies away. In her debut gallery show, the young Swiss artist Miriam Laura Leonardi cleverly, and with the necessary measure of irony, turns this situation one notch further by interpreting the rooms of this gallery, with its large display windows opening onto the street, as creative birth caves: Three anthropomorphic sculptures float among the wall works, like embryos in space.

The most cheerful figurine first: Angels of Chaos 1 (all works cited, 2016) shows a doll in a white spacesuit with an oversize bright fleshy flower from a fairground carousel hovering over his head. Instead of a protective helmet, a transparent plastic hemisphere covers half of his face. What might this virile Angelus Novus herald? Like his companions, Angels of Chaos 2 and 3––a leaping chef in a white cap and a cloud that drifts over a seated headless wire figure, respectively––he can be taken as a surreal revenant of the artist as well as of her artistic role models. Leonardi appears in all three in a small black-and-white photograph affixed to the sculptures. The works are referred to, in the artist’s personal idiom, after her “spiritual mothers”: Isa (Genzken), Lutz (Bacher), and Meret (Oppenheim). Given the abundance of wit here, this is more than necromancy.

Translated from German by Diana Reese.