10. Jun. 2012 – 30. Jun. 2012

Eros & Thanatos

Luciano Castelli, Standing Nude, 2007, Oil paint and pencil on paper, 130 x 170 cm


Scheublein Fine Art is pleased to present Eros & Thanatos in the cellar-vault of SihlbergCastle, an exhibition that draws together an extraordinary selection of rare art works that engage with the grand themes of Love and Death.

American artist Beatrice Wood(1893-1998) was an influential figure in the Modern avantgarde, surrounded by many myths. She was the muse of Marcel Duchamp, an exceptionally gifted artist herself and celebrated by the Dadaists as “Mama Dada”. In a love triangle with Duchamp and the art collector and writer Henri-Pierre Roché, she was indeed a source of inspiration to both creative minds. Famously, she inspired Roché to write his seminal novel Jules et Jim, which was later adopted by film. Wood’s delicate drawings and gouaches playfully explore the theme of eroticism.

Brigid Berlin(also known as Birgid Polk, *1939) is an American artist who took centre stage in Andy Warhol’s Factory; she appeared in several roles in Warhol’s films throughout the 1960s. Rumour has it that Berlin was the true creator of all of Warhol’s silk-screens. The legendary Berlin immerged into New Yorks underground a long time ago, however, she caused quite a stir when she sold her “Cock Book” to the artist Richard Prince for a sensational price a few years ago. All the same, Gerhard Richter portrayed her twice. Her fabulous “tit paintings”, which she imprinted on paper with breasts dipped in paint, can be seen as a cynical commentary on the prudery of the New Yorker vice squad during the 1960s and 1970s. In the tradition of Yves Klein’s “Anthropometries” and Warhol’s silk-screens, Berlin found her very own and singular expression.

The suite of 20 erotic watercolours by Hans Schärer (1927-1997) is an important part of the artist’s oeuvres and hasn’t been exhibited so comprehensively for a long time. Hans Schärer painted over 150 obscure erotic fantasises on paper from the mid-1960s until 1977. Nowadays, these paintings hold a significant place in art history. Schärer himself cynically commented on the series that he initially wanted to gain wealth through pornography, but in the end he bequeathed something never seen before. His raw style has been an inspiration for following generations such as Ugo Rondinone.

Through his expressive paintings, Luciano Castelli (*1951) emerged within a short time to a sought after shooting star in Berlin’s vibrant art scene in the 1980s. Alongside with Martin Kippenberger and Rainer Fetting, they were part of the “Neuen Wilden”. However, before he succeeded in painting, Catelli engaged himself with the medium of photography during the 1970s. Acting in narcissisticgestures he caught the moments of ecstatic unleashing by taking the photographs himself using a self-timer. Wholly in the spirit of Lou Reed, Mick Jagger and David Bowie, Castelli was searching for his androgynous alter ego and was exploring femininity inside the masculine. In the photo series “Reptil Grün”, the artist transforms into a seductive chameleon that shows itself unveiled to the audience.

Chantal Michel(*1968) slips in her performances into surprisingly different roles, drawing from the great pictorial vocabulary of art history. In 2007, she created an original series “Die Unwiderruflichen”: photographs for the interior of the De Bellelay Abbey, which appear like paintings at first glance. She adapts pastel drawings from the relatively unknown copyist Hermann Gerber (1902-1979). Michel metamorphoses herself into pictures using a wide spectrum of props. Even though her photographs are made from copies, the originals are recognisable, as seen in the likeness of the dying Valentine Godé-Darel, the wife of Hodler, who was painted in her deathbed by the Swiss artist in several empathetic portraits.

The gestural over-painted photograph by Arnulf Rainer (*1929), is also based on the iconic and aforementioned series by Ferdinand Hodler. Whilst Michel stages painterly photographs, Rainer over-paints photographs and thus turns them into unique art works.

Columbian borne performance artist Maria José Arjona (*1979) has created a powerful symbol for the brutal oppression of human rights in Colombia with her four-hour long performance “At the Center there is Silence”. The audience watches a video of the artist’s torso in the midst of four microphones with attached razor blades in threatening proximity of her neck. The slightest movement could lead to fatal consequences. The alleged silence just heightens the claustrophobic climax the artist is conveying.

The Huichol skulls were made by one of the last indigenous tribes in Mexico, practicing centuries-old craftsmanship, engaging with their symbolic mortuary cult. Important for their culture are their numerous rituals and ceremonies during which they often rely on the Peyote cacti fruit, which put them into a trance-like mental state. These rituals serve as inspiration for the psychedelic decoration of the skulls made from delicate glass beads. Like a picture puzzle, animals and other forms meander out of the patterns.

Marc Quinn’s (*1964) Jacquard tapestry reveals a black-and-white negative image of a skull, which blinks almost seductively at the observer out of an uncontrolled growth of exotic plants. The red-yellow “Semper-Augustus” tulip dominates the picture, reminding viewers of the financial bubble of tulips during the Golden Age in Holland in the 17th-century, when flowers were more valuable than gold. Maybe it is a jaundiced sideswipe at the overheated art market. However, flowers were the first human bred hybrids long before anyone spoke of genetic swamping. The subject of cultivating nature and its excesses fascinate the artist himself. With this original still life, a classical Vanitas depiction, Quinn refers also to the tradition of Burgundian tapestries, especially to the “Thousand Flower Tapestries”, and makes a subtle link to art history.