Gagosian is pleased to present Andreas Gursky’s first-ever exhibition in Asia. The exhibition combines his most recent work with earlier works to provide the context for a broader and deeper appreciation of his oeuvre by new audiences.
Contemporary Asia has provided extraordinarily rich and surprising subject matter for Gursky and, over the last twenty years, he has photographed in Japan, Thailand, China, and North Korea. Some of the first pictures he made were in Hong Kong in 1994—among them Sha Tin racetrack, Hong Kong airport, and Shanghai Bank, the last of which appears in this exhibition. The Bangkok series of 2011, shot on the Chao Praya river in central Bangkok, represents a bold new direction in his work.
By pure circumstance, Gursky found himself fascinated by the phenomenon of the river flowing beneath a city overpass, the intense light effects, and the flotsam and jetsam carried by in the dark water. A major arterial waterway that is as compromised by man-made pollution as by disequilibrium in the natural hydrological regime, Chao Phraya is revealed by Gursky to be at once a dumping ground for all manner of man-made detritus (used condoms, a child’s bed mattress, a car tire); a crucible for ecological disorder (as evidenced by a dead fish, and the pretty but devastating weed known as water hyacinth); and a reflecting, refracting surface for the modern city itself. But it was only during the post-production process that a clear relationship emerged with abstract painting, as well as the broader implications of depicting an ecologically threatened waterway in seductive visual terms. Gursky captures the toxic reality of the urban water mass, and spins it through the lens of the abstract sublime to dramatic and resonant effect.
For the Hong Kong exhibition, Gursky continues the approach he took for his most recent exhibition at the Louisiana Museum in Denmark, combining the large-scale, painterly and almost abstract Bangkok series with other works—in both large and small formats—that deal primarily with social and cultural production, from the bamboo-weavers of Nha Trang (2004) to the concert fans of Madonna I (2001). The selection includes some of his best-known works, such as the iconic 99 Cent II (2001), in which the banality of an American supermarket becomes a complex abstract aggregation of saturated color, compulsive arrangement, and dizzying selection.
It was for the traveling exhibition 80-08 that Gursky began combining scales, partly as a practical measure to be able to show a more comprehensive range of subjects in relatively small spaces. Since then, he has continued to experiment with this idea of the monumental and the miniature, finding that representing a large photograph in a very small format completely changes its reception: in some instances, such as Shanghai Bank (1994) and Pyong Yang IV (2007), the small scale emphasizes the strong abstract compositions that underpin the representational content. But with images such as the mysterious, gleaming Kamiokande (2007) and Kathedrale (2007) with its ethereal stained glass windows drained of color, the large format is instrumental to the presence of the work. In this way, surprising juxtapositions are created within which pictorial structures and patterns can be more closely compared and examined.
Just as history painters of previous centuries found their subjects in the realities of everyday life, Gursky finds inspiration in his own spontaneous visual experience and via reports of global phenomena in the daily media. The resulting pictures have a formal congruence deriving from a bold and edgy dialogue between photography and painting, empirical observation and artfulness, conceptual rigor and spontaneity, representation and abstraction. Grappling with the abstract aesthetic structures that underlie man-made or natural environments, and reconstructing real subjects according to his inner eye, Gursky presents a worldview that fuses the flux of life and nature with the stillness of metaphysical reflection.
當代亞洲為古爾斯基提供了極其豐富且充滿驚喜的題材。過去二十年，他拍攝過日本、泰國、中國及北韓，部分最早期作品更是1994年於香港拍攝的啟德機場和香港滙豐總行大廈，以及在本次展覽可見的作品之一，《Shatin Racetrack》 而2011年攝於曼谷市中心湄南河 (Chao Praya River)的《Bangkok》系列，則代表著古爾斯基大膽的創作新方向
靈感得來純屬偶然，他發現自己被這片情景深深吸引著－河流走在它穿越的城市之下，映照出強烈的光影效果，幽黑的水面漂浮著船骸和貨物 然而，要到後期製作的時候，這些影像和抽象畫之間的關係，以及運用如此迷人的視覺語言來描繪水道污染的深層意義才明確顯現出來 在 《Bangkok》 系列中，古爾斯基把主體拉近放大，藉由鏡頭的力量將此都市水體的細節記錄下來並抽象昇華 湄南河作為一座城市的大動脈，被迫接受人工污染與生態失衡的處境，而透過古爾斯基的作品，我們可看到它既是聚集各式人類生活渣滓(各類食品包裝、小童床褥和舊車胎)的垃圾場，也是失衡生態的熔爐(死魚與形態美好但四處叢生的野草風眼蘭)，亦是這個現代化城市本身的影子和反射
些情況下，縮圖能把構圖的抽象性從具象內容中突顯出來，例如《Shanghai Bank》(1994)和《Pyong Yang IV》(2007)，而另一些影象如泛著奇異閃光的《Kamiokande》(2007)，或從彩繪玻璃窗流瀉出非人間氣息的《Kathedrale》(2007)，則需要藉著放大圖片來增強作品的效果。在這樣的並置編排下，觀眾可對令人喜出望外的圖像結構與圖案進行更仔細的審視和比較。
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