june 10 – august 13, 2011
exhibition opening
june 9, 2011, 6 – 9 pm

We are pleased to announce the gallery’s sixth exhibition with Antje Majewski (*1968), which opens June 9 and will be on view until August 13.

Majewski’s new painting series revolves around a personal Universalmuseum, which consists of seven objects that are housed in a vitrine and guarded by a custodian, or “the guardian of all things that are the case.” Each of these objects emerges again in the other paintings on view in the “space of images”: a nude woman peers inside a large shell in an ice-age landscape; the “gardener of mechanical objects” sows metal seeds and waters them with the index finger of his teapot-hand in ribbons of color; a woman in Romanian dress presents a large, biomorphic sculpture resembling a giant fish – this is “Buddha’s Hand citron,” a type of citrus fruit; a wooden pot with detailed grain sits in an undefined space – though the pot in the image remains shut, the title refers to its contents, “a black ball or two glass eyes.”

Woven into these images and seven objects are stories, films, and threads of research that question the objects’ meaning, which Majewski followed over the course of the past two years by traveling to each object’s place of origin. As it turns out, the question of the objects’ meaning actually has to do with man’s relationship to nature and the cosmos – and, in the end, life flows through each of these things.

The “hedge apple” (which is also called the “Osage orange,” after Osage County in Oklahoma where it grows) is an inedible fruit, the wood of which is used to build the world’s best hunting bows. The Osage Indians were the only significantly wealthy native North American tribe at the beginning of the 20th century, since oil reserves were found on their land. It was for this reason that “halfblooded” Osage Indian John Joseph Mathews (1894-1979) was able to study at Oxford. After becoming a writer, he returned home and lived in an isolated stone house, which he constructed himself, blissfully content with hunting and life in nature. Mathew’s book, Talking with the Moon (1945), recounts his precise observations of animals and plants, which he recorded over the course of one year in the oak forests of Osage County.

The back room of the exhibition, the “fireplace room,” is based on a historical photograph, which shows John Joseph Mathews at his fireplace. On the mantelpiece, he wrote the Latin inscription: VENARI LAVARI LUDERE RIDERE OCCAST VIVERE (“to hunt, to bathe, to play, to laugh, that is to live”). The furniture in the installation comes from Majewski’s house in Havelland, where she will now begin to live in an effort to emulate the combination of art and life that Mathews realized in Osage County. The fireplace room in the gallery becomes a kind of inhabitable painting, where one might have the chance to contemplate the oversized, abstracted Osage orange. Colored wires connect the “space of images” with the “fireplace room” and deliver electricity for the latter’s electric fire and lighting.

Majewski’s entire cycle of seven objects will be on view in the exhibition Die Gimel-Welt: Wie kommen Objekte zum Sprechen?, curated by Adam Budak, at Kunsthaus Graz between October 1, 2011, and January 15, 2012. The cycle will be accompanied by closely related works from other artists. The catalogue for the exhibition will be published in October 2011 (Kunsthaus Graz / Sternberg Press).

(press release neugerriemschneider)