Isa Genzken

Whitechapel Gallery

IN THIS RETROSPECTIVE of Isa Genzken, which opened in April at London’s newly expanded Whitechapel Gallery, the sheer range and depth of her work becomes clear, registered not in spite of but in the reeling effects of its many glitzy surfaces. Firmly establishing the artist as one of the leading innovators of the past thirty years, the selection of works made since the late 1970s brings into sharp focus the powerful logic at the heart of her practice. True, there are myriad media and materials—sculpture, photographs, collages, paintings and not-paintings attached to the wall, small models, and 3-D tableaux, as well as installations. The way Genzken deals with materials, and especially with degraded and ersatz, or gorgeous if flimsy, plastics and synthetics, looks at first like an aesthetics of excess, and it is hard to get the measure of this volatile mix of the voracious and the detached,

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