Aurélien Froment

Museum Leuven
Leopold Vanderkelenstraat 28
June 11–November 5

View of “Aurélien Froment: Double Tales,” 2017. From left: Quodlibet II, 2017; Non alignés (Fatim Diop) (Non-Aligned [Fatim Diop]), 2016.

Aurélien Froment’s solo exhibition is titled “Double Tales,” which is certainly apropos to the duality on display across four large rooms in this newly refurbished museum. Quodlibet II, 2017, is a sculptural rendition of a musical medley that takes the form of reed instruments suspended from nylon thread. It is presented alongside Non alignés (Fatim Diop) (Non-Aligned [Fatim Diop]), 2016, and Chant du Monde (Song of the World), 2017, which are intimate video portraits of Senegalese singer Amadou Badiane inspired by Bollywood music and dance sequences.

These intersections demonstrate Froment’s capacity to approach his subjects from multiple unexpected vantage points. The series “Tombeau Idéal de Ferdinand Cheval” (The Ideal Funeral Monument of Ferdinand Cheval), 2014, is a photographic story of the lifework of a nineteenth-century postman who built the ideal tomb for himself and his wife, stone by stone. In the same room, and resonating on the other side of a partitioned wall and curtain, is the video Apocalypse, 2017, a meticulous examination of the imposing titular fourteenth-century tapestry at the Château d’Angers in France.

The artist’s latest work––installed in the last room of the show––stands alone and therefore offers an interesting speculation as to what direction the impressive multilayered incongruence of the artist’s practice can take. Allegro Largo Triste, 2017, is a video of a Sardinian musician and master launeddas player training his apprentices in an uninterrupted flow of music on a pastoral hillside. His style and instrument are so particular that there exists no system of tabulation for what he does, a feat not so dissimilar to the unique qualities of this artist’s own work.

Huib Haye Van Der Werf

Kah Bee Chow

Tranen Contemporary Art Center
Ahlmanns Allé 6, Gentofte Library
August 26–October 19

Kah Bee Chow, 海龜 (detail), 2017, aluminum, steel, wax, clay, MDF, wheels, Plexiglas, plastic, bronze, styrofoam, video, vinyl, dummy surveillance camera, fabric, foam, laser-cut plywood, copper wire, spray paint, pigment, raffia, plaster, dimensions variable.

Kah Bee Chow’s single installation work is titled 海龜, 2017, a pair of Chinese characters that translate to “sea turtle,” as well as a myriad of other things, pointing to the way in which a system of signs is a line of inquiry—here set free to procreate.

Language is structured according to the principle of family likeness: slowly ramifying through proximity and association. A pattern repeating the Chinese character for “nail” or “shell” dangles from the mezzanine onto the marbled floor. From “shell” grows “shelter,” branching off into “protection” or “care.” Nearby, two curved aluminum screens have handles like shields, and another makes a cave for a cot against the wall. A skeletal metal hemisphere encloses a cluster of objects, perhaps in convalescence, divorced from those inhabiting the rest of the room. Many are geometrical wax domes in pale shades, and all are vaguely turtle-like, congregating at one end of the room as if for a family reunion, to see just how far the apple can fall from the tree.

There is a logic to this landscape, as ancient as it is subtle, yet more precarious than we might assume. A small screen on the wall shows video footage of the coastline of Penang Island, Malaysia, where the artist grew up. The island itself is naturally shaped like the reptile, a composition now threatened by a real-estate boom that extends construction into the sea. Poetic and astute, Chow’s exhibition is a reminder that in the chain of signification of the phrase “to take care” is also a warning not to go too far.

Kristian Vistrup Madsen

Olga Chernysheva

Temnikova & Kasela Gallery
Lastekodu 1
August 24–October 28

Olga Chernysheva, untitled, 2011, barite analog print, 11 x 17''. From the series “Algunas Canciones Lindas” (Some Beautiful Songs), 1996–2014.

Russian photographer Olga Chernysheva’s latest exhibition consists of never-before-shown works spanning from 1996 to 2014. Also on view is the large-scale pigment print Before Closing, 2017, which was captured at Tallinn’s Central Market, a leftover relic from the Soviet era replete with mostly Russian vendors, allowing visitors to step back in time. Here, we see one of the shopkeepers, minus her head, unceremoniously dumping water from a bucket of flowers into a drain. Chernysheva, a Muscovite, was brought up in that world, and her eye seems to seek out those persistent remnants of the twentieth century that have become encoded with a sort of timelessness. In this sense, she is like a poet who shows us something unexpected by zeroing in on the mundane. There’s a skating ground near Red Square, wrapped in the pale non-light of winter (untitled, 2009); beyond its environs, the real subject is a certain bluishness that glows. You can almost hear the wind howling.

This Baudelairean, painter-of-modern-life stance persists when the artist turns to interiors. Two untitled black-and-white barite analog prints ostensibly portray the same living room; despite the date of each, 2011, the room’s décor appears to be a relic of Eastern Europe or Russia in the 1980s. The first image is simply the room itself, while the second pulls back, revealing an interior frame around the space, as if it were either a mirror reflection of the area or else a stage set.

Nearly all of these works are from a series called “Algunas Canciones Lindas” (Some Beautiful Songs), which itself sounds like it could be the title of a volume of poetry. Chernysheva’s songs are beautiful for reveling in the matter of their endurance.

Travis Jeppesen

Richard Serra

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
Museumpark 18-20
June 24–September 24

Richard Serra, Ramble 3-54, 2015, litho crayon and pastel powder on handmade paper, 19 3/4 x 25 1/4".

Richard Serra forgoes color in his drawings, considering it an added value, not a structural property. Color does not fit the straight logic of his process, in which materials exist unto themselves and not as references to anything else. This exhibition presents around eighty of these black-and-white drawings, the majority made in the past two years. They are drawings by a sculptor, but not in the sense that they are sketches or structural three-dimensional representations. Rather, the works share some basic aspects of their conception with Serra’s sculptural work. The compositions are the result of a printmaking-like process whereby the artist applies paint stick, silica, graphite powder, or other black pigments on a table surface and then presses a sheet of paper against it with the help of a weighty metal box. Gravity, pressure, gesture, and the texture of paper’s grain are defining factors in how the compositions will look.

In Rotterdam Verticals and Rotterdam Horizontals, both 2016–17, there is a repetitive play of dark forms; differences in pigment density create an abstract story line. The work looks romantic rather then minimal, as the shapes are dramatic and surrounded by visual noise. The show ends in a crescendo with four huge works from the series “Rift,” 2011–17. Here, Serra’s technique is different: Paint stick has been applied in huge quantities and ends up much thicker than the paper. The term drawing hardly covers the results, which look more like sculpted, monochrome surfaces, interrupted by sharp triangular rifts. They hark back to the minimal aesthetics of Serra’s steel works: heavy, balanced, and determined in their definition of spatial divisions.

Jurriaan Benschop

Enrico Prampolini

Muzeum Sztuki | MS2
Ogrodowa 19 St.
June 9–October 8

View of “Enrico Prampolini,” 2017.

In 1930, Italian Futurist artist Enrico Prampolini donated his painting Tarantella, 1920–22, to the Polish artist group a.r., which was amassing a collection of international avant-garde artworks that would become the foundation of the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź. It is perhaps fitting, then, that curator Przemysław Strożek uses the work as a symbolic point of departure for an exhibition that simultaneously serves as the first large-scale retrospective of Prampolini’s work since the early 1990s and as a portrait of the international character of the Polish avant-garde, the centenary of which is this year. Indeed, this thematic exhibition is among many organized by the museum in celebration of the anniversary; this one focuses on productive links between Prampolini’s stage design and Polish avant-garde theater.

The first section reflects Prampolini’s burgeoning interest in dynamism and simultaneity in the 1910s; the second section presents his use of technology in his set designs in the 1920s, culminating in a reconstructed model of his 1925 Magnetic Theatre; and the third highlights his approach to pure abstraction in the 1930s. Interspersed are a range of materials connected to the stage design of Polish avant-garde groups, such as Blok, Praesens, and Zwrotnica. Overall, a staggering two hundred paintings, documents, models, costumes, sketches, and photographs are on view in one room. That the exhibition does not become overwhelmed by its content is a testament to the design: Floating walls, on which all two-dimensional work is installed, have been positioned to create semi-intimate viewing areas.

Alpesh Kantilal Patel

Akram Zaatari

Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA)
Plaça dels Angels, 1
April 7–September 25

View of “Akram Zaatari: Against Photography. An Annotated History of the Arab Image Foundation, 2017.”

Akram Zaatari’s latest museum show consists of his own work and, just as crucially, work from the Arab Image Foundation—an institutional archive of photography from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Arab diaspora. Zaatari often uses photographs and paraphernalia from the collection as material. For instance, in the descriptively titled A Photographer’s Shadow, 2017, he has re photographed a picture from the collection of a cameraman’s body blocking light, spotlighting the person framing the shot. Throughout the show, one notices the artist identifying patterns—absurd studio props or cars, for example—at times with a wall full of the repeated motif in a grid of images. The cumulative amount of work displayed is staggering, and from it, one glimpses the weight of viewing the AIF’s repository as an artist scanning for significance.

In the two-channel video On Photography, People, and Modern Times, 2010, we see photographs being carefully archived on one screen, while on the other, individuals with a connection to these images reminisce about them. Both sides are offered cleanly and formally, but traces of nostalgia leak through the right channel. Meanwhile, for the installation Twenty-Eight Nights and a Poem, 2010, Zaatari photographed objects he found relevant from Hashem El Madani’s studio and placed those items in cabinets to be selected and shown to visitors during the course of the exhibition.

Zaatari has long advocated that items such as album mounts and notes on the backs of photographs be made equal in importance to the image itself and included in the AIF archive. He has likened his work to archaeological excavation. His careful search for emotion and meaning within each image is far less clinical than that, though. He is more of a storyteller.

Yin Ho