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We are currently migrating from our old site to the new site.
We will stop posting on the old blogs for a few days, so be sure to update your bookmarks and join us on this new site. One central stop for all your cultural info in Belgium, Europe and the USA.
Best regards

10505 - 20170528 - Exhibition celebrates the great graphic boom of American prints from 1960 to 1990 - Oslo -03.03.2017-28.05.2017

Roy Lichtenstein, Crying Girl, 1963. Photo: Staatsgalerie Stuttgart.
The National Museum’s new exhibition at the National Gallery, “The Great Graphic Boom. American Prints 1960–1990”, focuses on a largely unknown dimension of this American breakthrough, namely its keen interest in the graphic arts. “The Great Graphic Boom” opened on 3 March and will run until 28 May 2017.

With its multicultural society and openness to refugees and immigrants, the United States was in full cultural bloom before, during, and after World War II. This sparked off an innovative creativity that would reverberate throughout the global art scene.

Bold brushstrokes and vibrant fields of colour dominated the abstract expressionism of the New York school. Around 1960, however, many younger artists began gravitating towards other modes of expression and sought out collaborations with various fine-art printers. Pop art found its muse in the era’s popular culture and consumerism, while minimalism reduced everything to a system of repetitive forms.

Works by 23 artists, both well-known and less familiar, are on display. Featured attractions include Barnett Newman’s major Cantos series (1964) and Agnes Martin’s On a Clear Day (1973), as well as Robert Rauschenberg’s use of found objects and Jasper Johns’s reworking of mundane subject matter such as flags and letters. Lithography and silk-screen prints were the media of choice for many artists, while Helen Frankenthaler, Donald Judd, and Brice Marden explored older techniques such as woodcuts and etching. Roy Lichtenstein’s famous Brushstroke is a natural inclusion here, as are Andy Warhol’s portraits of Elizabeth Taylor and Jackie Kennedy. Other highlights include Warhol’s Campbell’s soup cans and Louise Bourgeois’s Ste Sebastienne.

The exhibition has been curated by Øystein Ustvedt.


10504 - 20170405 - Exhibition at Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga aims to reconstitute the heart of Lisbon during the Renaissance - Lisboa - 24.02.2017-09.04.2017


Unknown Netherlandish Master, View of the Rua Nova dos Mercadores 1570-1619. Oil on canvas London, Kelmscott Manor Collection, The Society of Antiquaries of London © By kind permission of The Society of Antiquaries of London, Kelmscott Manor.
The history of this exhibition begins in April of 1866, when the pre-Raphaelite painter and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882) left his home in Chelsea, London, to evaluate a painting he had seen in a small antique shop. “A large landscape with about 120 figures of the school of Velasquez, [but] not, [I think], by the great V himself”, wrote the painter. The British art world had awakened to Spanish painting and collectors were on the lookout for works by great masters such as El Greco, Velázquez and Goya. Despite not recognising the city represented in the painting, Rossetti correctly guessed at its Iberian origin.

An impetuous and eclectic collector, Rossetti divided the canvas into two, probably because it did not fit on the already overcrowded walls of his London home. It is known that Rossetti took these two canvases with him, along with other works of art, when he went to live at Kelmscott Manor (Oxfordshire) with the painter William Morris (Rossetti and Morris shared this house for some months in 1871 and between 24th September, 1872 and July 11th, 1874). It is also known that the two paintings remained in Kelmscott Manor when Rossetti was forced to leave the house suddenly after a problematic love affair. They were later included in William Morris’ assets.

An article by Julia Dudkiewicz (“Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s collection of Old Masters at Kelmscott Manor” in The British Art Journal, vol. XVI, No. 2, 2015) confirms that these two paintings belonged to Rossetti’s collection. The historian reports that in May Morris’ (18621938) will – daughter of William Morris and heiress of Kelmscott Manor – a list of 220 objects is attached, with descriptions that encompass their provenance. The list includes the two paintings: “two pictures of scenes in a city, part of D. G. R.’s things”.

The paintings (currently owned by the Society of Antiquaries of London) have remained at Kelmscott Manor since the 19th century but the represented city was only identified in 2009, by Annemarie Jordan Gschwend and Kate Lowe. The first clue that led to its identification was the number of black people portrayed; in 16th century Europe, only Lisbon and a couple of Spanish cities had such a large percentage of Africans. The architectural details such as the tall narrow houses, the covered gallery with marble columns – 149 in total – and the iron railings led Lowe and Jordan to conclude that it was Lisbon. And, more specifically, Rua Nova dos Mercadores, Lisbon’s main trade street in the 16th century, full of merchants, acrobats, musicians, travelling salesmen, knights, jewels, silks, spices, exotic animals and other wonders imported from Africa, Brazil and Asia.

This exhibition aims to reconstitute the heart of Lisbon during the Renaissance with 249 pieces belonging to 77 lenders: 64 national (institutions and private collections) and 13 international (two private collections and 11 institutions, among them the British Museum, Pitt Rivers Museum, Museo Nacional del Prado, Leiden University Libraries and Museo Nazionale Preistorico Etnografico “Luigi Pigorini”).

On display for the first time in Portugal, the two paintings representing Rua Nova dos Mercadores open the first of the exhibition’s six sections: “Lisbon City Views: historical background”, “Novelties”, “From Africa”, “Shopping in Rua Nova”, “Animals from other worlds” and “Simão de Melo’s house”.

Of note within this surprising set of never before assembled pieces are the extraordinary and meticulous Panoramic View of Lisbon, c. 1570- -1580 (Leiden University Library), the Reliquary Casket containing the relics of Saint Vincent (Patriarchal Cathedral - Treasure, Lisbon), the View of Lisbon waterfront with the royal palace, the Paço da Ribeira, 1505 (Câmara Municipal de Cascais/ Condes de Castro de Guimarães Museum), the Euclidis Megarensis Philosophi atque Mathematici [...], mathematical works by Francisco de Melo, 1521 (Stadtarchiv der Hansestadt Stralsund), Terrestrial Paradise by Pieter Brueghel the Younger (Museo del Prado), Processional Cross belonging to Catherine of Bragança containing the relics of Saint Thomas Becket (Vila Viçosa Ducal Palace) and the 1579 cameo, by Jacopo da Trezzo, representing King Manuel I’s rhinoceros (Guy Ladrière Collection).


10503 - 20170813 - Exhibition at MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst presents masterworks of minimal art - Frankfurt - 22.02.2017-13.08.2017

Foreground: Santiago Sierra: 20 Pieces of Road Measuring 100 x 100 cm. Pulled up from the Ground, 1992. Exhibition view MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main, Photo: Axel Schneider.
Among the holdings of the MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main is an important collection of outstanding works of minimal art of the 1960s and ’70s. In a major survey featuring nearly fifty artists, the MMK is now presenting the masterworks of this collection comprehensively for the first time.

The unique group of works by American minimalists of the early 1960s made its way into the museum when the city of Frankfurt purchased the former Karl Ströher collection in 1981. An acquisition of 2006, now of the works amassed by the former gallery owner and collector Rolf Ricke, further enhanced the MMK holdings with outstanding examples of post-minimalism.

“It has long been our wish to present the highlights of this important MMK focus on a comprehensive scale. The exhibition will once again testify to the tremendous quality of the MMK collection and the treasures that lie concealed here, but also to the influence of the early minimalists on artists of subsequent generations and up to the present”, remarks MMK director Prof Susanne Gaensheimer.

Seriality, conceptuality and industrial production were the new principles pursued by the minimalists Carl Andre, Walter De Maria, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd and Fred Sandback, who revolutionized art in the 1960s with their radical works. For the first time in the history of art, they used industrially manufactured or processed materials and reduced their works to basic geometric structures they termed “primary structures”. With this title, the presentation at the MMK 2 also makes direct reference to the very first exhibition of minimal art – the trailblazing show of the same name staged at the Jewish Museum in New York in 1966. Walter de Maria’s key work Cage of 1965 – today in the MMK collection – was on view in that exhibition.

The MMK show will get off to a start with the reconstruction of two historical installations that – originally presented at the legendary Heiner Friedrich gallery in Munich in 1968 – mark the beginning of the reception of minimal art in Germany: Carl Andre’s floor sculpture 22 Steel Row and Dan Flavin’s light installation Two Primary Series and One Secondary. The two artists designed the works especially for the tripartite space offered by the Munich gallery. From 1968 onward, Heiner Friedrich consistently devoted his gallery work to the new artistic current, and he was the first to introduce such artists as Sol LeWitt, Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Walter De Maria, Fred Sandback or Robert Ryman in solo exhibitions in Germany. “In retrospect, it can safely be said that 1968 was an epochal exhibition year at the Galerie Heiner Friedrich, a year that would make art history. And thanks to Karl Ströher’s numerous purchases of art by these artists at that early point in time, many of the works also went into the making of the MMK’s collection history”, points out Dr Mario Kramer, head of the MMK collection and curator of the exhibition. The dimensions and proportions of the works in the Galerie Friedrich only make sense in view of the historical spatial conditions there, which have been replicated at the MMK 2. Originally serving as a residential flat, the gallery rooms had the classical proportions of 3 x 6, 6 x 6 and 3 x 6 metres, with 3.2-metre-high ceilings. During the first half of the exhibition (22 Feb. to 14 May 2017) the MMK 2 will feature the reconstruction of Carl Andre’s floor sculpture, and in the second half (starting on 16 May 2017), that of the work by Dan Flavin.

Carl Andre’s 35 Timber Line (1968) will be on view in an MMK exhibition for the very first time. The work has belonged to the holdings since the museum’s opening in 1991, but for reasons of space has never been placed on display. After so many years in storage, the 35-metre work will now finally celebrate its MMK premiere in the spacious facilities of the MMK 2 within the context of the exhibition “Primary Structures”. The heavy wooden beams have the quality of a barrier cutting the exhibition space in two and challenging visitors to cross it. When visitors walk the length of the work, the clear subdivision into one-metre segments raise their awareness of the spatial proportions. In radically reductive manner, 35 Timber Line manifests Carl Andre’s artistic creed – to create a tension-charged relationship between a sculpture and its immediate surroundings. For the visitors, the perception of space is a very immediate experience when, by walking the length of the Line, they participate in the relationship between space and body intended by the artist.

In addition to masterworks by the most important exponents of minimalism in 1960s U.S.A. and Germany, the MMK 2 will also present examples by members of younger generations, whose installations – many quite large in scale – bear a strong relationship to the minimalist current. Among these artists are Jo Baer, Bruce Nauman, Robert Barry, Robert Mangold, Charlotte Posenenske, Peter Roehr, Lewis Stein and William Forsythe, but also and above all their successors, for example Michael Beutler, Benedikte Bjerre, Ceal Floyer, Teresa Margolles, Sarah Morris, Santiago Sierra or Jonas Weichsel.

The most recent new acquisition to be included in the show is 20 Pieces of Road Measuring 100 x 100 cm Pulled up from the Ground (1992), a key work by the Latin American concept and action artist Santiago Sierra. For its presentation here, construction workers cut 20 one-square-metre slabs of asphalt out of a Frankfurt street. The squares have been laid out in the exhibition space in grid form. Santiago Sierra conceives of the human being and the body as worker and workforce operating in social space. He demonstrates a fact-bound mode of thought that – entirely in keeping with minimalist concepts – stresses the industrial production of his installations. At the same time, however, he charges his works with sociopolitical meaning.

A further room in the exhibition makes use of the Petersburg presentation mode to explore the function of the drawing. Drawings on paper have always been the foundation of the original artistic process. They often served the minimalists as the point of departure – but also the destination – of their new strategies, which they articulated in concepts, diagrams, sketches or accompanying preliminary drawings. With only few exceptions, the drawings on display bear a direct relation to sculptural or space-specific works in the MMK collection. Their functions can be very different: the drawing as definition, as elucidation, as ritual, as investigation, even as certificate. In each case, they bear the individual thumbprint of the respective artist. The artistic media they employ are equally diverse, ranging from the classical pencil or ink on paper to such techniques as screen print, stencil, stamp or typewriting, and also encompassing digital forms of expression.

Michael Beutler’s work Outdoor-yellow 13 (2004) will conclude the show in the main lobby of the TaunusTurm. There visitors will encounter huge, bright yellow sculptures made of “Pecafil”, a material typically used in the building industry. Beutler releases it from its serviceability as a building material, however, assigning it a sculptural value of its own instead. And he has changed and expanded his work in response to the unusually high exhibition space. In view of its industrially predetermined primary colour and its materiality, Beutler’s installation likewise draws on the concepts of minimal art.

Artists featured in the exhibition: Carl Andre, Richard Artschwager, Jo Baer, Bernd und Hilla Becher, Michael Beutler, Benedikte Bjerre, Alighiero Boetti, Bill Bollinger, George Brecht, Marcel Broodthaers, Walter De Maria, Dan Flavin, Ceal Floyer, William Forsythe, Günther Förg, Isa Genzken, Hermann Goepfert, Bethan Huws, Donald Judd, On Kawara, Ellsworth Kelly, Joseph Kosuth, Gary Kuehn, Barry La Va, Robert Mangold, Teresa Margolles, Sarah Morris, Bruce Nauman, Kenneth C. Noland, Blinky Palermo, Steven Parrino, Angelika Platen, Charlotte Posenenske, Timm Rautert, Peter Roehr, Reiner Ruthenbeck, Ulrich Rückriem, Robert Ryman, Fred Sandback, Richard Serra, Paul Sharits, Santiago Sierra, Andreas Slominski, Lewis Stein, Heide Stolz, Franz Erhard Walther, Jonas Weichsel and Lawrence Weiner


10502 - 20170701 - The Burrell Collection brings rare works by Joseph Crawhall to Kelvingrove - Glasgow - 24.10.2016-01.07.2017



. Gouache 
 75.7 cm.


A new exhibition Burrell at Kelvingrove: Joseph Crawhall offers visitors a rare opportunity to see 23 of the finest works by one of the country’s most accomplished yet lesser known artists, Joseph Crawhall (1861–1913). The exhibition from 24 October 2016 – July 2017, is the first time in more than twenty-five years that many of the works on display have been seen together in Scotland, and offers visitors a unique opportunity to trace Crawhall’s development and range as an artist.

Known as a leader of the radical group of young Scottish painters, the Glasgow Boys, Crawhall won national and international acclaim with his watercolours and gouaches on linen of animals and birds. Although his work was executed with all the accomplishment of his contemporaries such as Sargent, Whistler and Lavery, Crawhall is sparsely represented in the UK’s large national collections, and is little known outside of Scotland. However the artist’s technical brilliance was so admired by shipping magnate and collector Sir William Burrell, that Sir William acquired more works by Crawhall than by any other painter, with 140 works by the artist in the collection.

Throughout the Burrell’s refurbishment, Burrell at Kelvingrove showcases a series of changing displays, giving visitors continued access to treasures from the Burrell’s collection. The display space has also been used to prototype designs and display methods for the refurbished museum – from story displays for artworks, and prototyping of digital user experiences, to the design of visitor facilities – giving audiences the opportunity to help shape the visitor experience and redisplay of the collection.

Sir Angus Grossart, Chair of Burrell Renaissance comments, “Crawhall was known to have destroyed many of his works. The Burrell Collection to have 140 works by the artist, which demonstrates the strength of the collection. It is an example of Sir William’s passion and acumen as a truly important collector. It is this legacy which underpins our aspirations to raise the Burrell’s international profile and share significant works from the collection with audiences worldwide.”

Councillor Archie Graham OBE, the Depute Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of Glasgow Life, says: “Joseph Crawhall is one of the most distinguished of the Glasgow Boys and we’re delighted to be able to share rarely seen works by Crawhall with audiences and visitors Kelvingrove. As we embark on the refurbishment and redisplay of the museum in Pollok Park, Burrell at Kelvingrove will give visitors the opportunity to understand and engage with our plans for what will be a world-class home for Sir William’s great legacy.”

James Robinson, Director of Burrell Renaissance says, “This display reflects our ambition to highlight the rare and unique works held within our collection, and to share these with wider audiences in Glasgow and internationally. During the Burrell’s Renaissance project, Burrell at Kelvingrove also gives us the opportunity to prototype cutting-edge design, interpretation and display methods, ensuring we deliver a Burrell Collection redisplay that defines everything a 21st century museum should be.”


10501 - 20170625 - Exhibition provides extensive insights into the photographic oeuvre of Claudia Andujar - Frankfurt - 18.02.2017-25.06.2017


Exhibition view MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main 2017, Courtesy Claudia Andujar and Galeria Vermelho, São Paulo, Brazil.
The exhibition “Claudia Andujar. Tomorrow must not be like yesterday” is the first in Europe to provide extensive insights into the photographic œuvre of Claudia Andujar (b. in Neuchâtel, Switzerland in 1931). The artist and activist has lived in São Paulo since 1955. When she arrived there, she hadn’t learned Portuguese yet, but the camera offered her a means of communicating – through images instead of language. Since that time, Andujar’s photographic praxis has been closely linked with recent Brazilian history and the country’s contrasts and conflicts.

Andujar initially worked as a photographer for various Brazilian and American magazines. In 1971, her travels took her to the Yanomami, the largest indigenous ethnic group in the Amazon region. From then on she dedicated herself to the protection of the Yanomami, who are threatened by the invasion of their living environment. In the early 1980s, she produced the series that is still her most important today – “Marcados” (Marked) –, likewise in the context of her activist engagement. “Andujar’s photographic series are the result of her journeys between the metropolis of São Paulo in the south and the Amazon region in the north. They create a panorama of Brazil between city and nature. Artistic praxis and activist involvement are inseparably linked in these images”, comments Peter Gorschlüter, deputy director of the MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst, about the show.

Andujar lived with the Yanomami herself for several years, and in 1978 joined Bruce Albert and Carlo Zacquini in founding the “Comissão pela Criação do Parque Yanomami” (meanwhile called “Comissão Pró-Yanomami”) in defence of the Yanomami and their living environment. In the early 1980s, the commission initiated a vaccination campaign for which Andujar took photographic portraits of the Yanomami in various villages in the Amazon region. As the Yanomami traditionally don’t use names – they address one another by way of family relations – they were given necklaces with numbers as a means of identification on their vaccination records. It was only twenty years later, in 2006, that Andujar first showed the photographs at the São Paulo Biennale, and entitled them “Marcados”. These portraits of people marked with numbers trigger historical memories intimately linked with the photographer’s own biography. Whereas she and her mother could escape the Holocaust, all of her Jewish relatives on her father’s side were murdered in the Nazi concentration camp. As Claudia Andujar herself explained: “These were the marcados para morrer [marked to die]. What I was trying to do with the Yanomami was to mark them to live, to survive.

Since that time, Andujar’s œuvre has attracted a great deal of attention in the South American context. To this day, it is distinguished by its topicality and explosive force, not least of all in view of the ongoing invasion of the Yanomami territory by illegal goldminers “garimpeiros”, protests in Brazil and the climate objectives its government recently announced. In view of recurring political events and societal developments in the country, the exhibition title “Tomorrow must not be like yesterday” mirrors Claudia Andujar’s message to the present.

In various works, the photographer conveys an image of Brazil as a country rich in contrasts. “Again and again, the various living environments virtually converse with one another in Andujar’s photographic series. Taken from a helicopter, “Metrópole” shows São Paulo’s modernist street network, “Urihi-a” a shapono, the round structure that serves the Yanomami as housing, surrounded by nature, and the “Cemitério da Consolação” a cemetery founded in São Paulo at the end of the nineteenth century with a network of paths laid out around a mausoleum at the centre. The city streets, the nature and the cemetery paths all share a quality of endlessness”, observes Carolin Köchling, the exhibition’s curator.

Not only the photographic subject – whether person or object – inscribe themselves in Andujar’s works, but also always the position of the photographer herself as the subject’s vis-à-vis. To shoot the “Rua Direita” series (1970), for example, Andujar sat down on the crowded street of the same name in São Paulo and photographed the passers-by at an extreme angle from below. Though they look almost posed in the photographs, the people’s startled, aloof or curious expressions actually mirror their spontaneous reactions to the unexpected encounter with the photographer. In the “Através do Fusca” series, on the other hand, the windows of a VW beetle embody this inscription of Andujar’s position so characteristic of her œuvre: in 1976, she photographed a journey from São Paulo to the Amazon region through the car windows. 


10500 - 20170604 - UK's first exhibition devoted to the Bruegel dynasty includes newly discovered paintings - Bath - 11.02.2017-04.06.2017

Pieter Brueghel the Younger, Wedding Dance in the Open Air, 1607-1614, oil on oak panel. © The Holburne Museum.
The Holburne Museum announces the UK’s first exhibition devoted to the Bruegel dynasty, including recent attributions for two paintings from the Museum’s own collection. Bruegel: Defining a Dynasty will unravel the complex Bruegel family tree, revealing the originality and diversity of Antwerp’s famous artistic dynasty across four generations through 35 works, including masterpieces from the National Gallery, Royal Collection Trust, the National Trust, the Fitzwilliam Museum, the Ashmolean Museum and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts.
Jennifer Scott, the Holburne’s Director and co-curator of the exhibition notes, ‘This exciting new exhibition not only shines a light on the quality of the Holburne Museum’s Flemish paintings, but also on the wealth of paintings by the Bruegel dynasty in the UK.’

A key work in the exhibition will be Wedding Dance in the Open Air, an oil painting from the Holburne’s own collection which, following conservation work and technical examination, can be attributed firmly to the hand of Pieter Brueghel the Younger. Previously thought to be the work of a copyist or follower of Brueghel, it now takes its place as the only version of this popular scene in a UK public museum. Together with Robbing the Bird’s Nest and the Visit to a Farmhouse, also featured in the exhibition, this new discovery makes the Holburne Museum the primary collection of Pieter Brueghel the Younger’s work in the UK.

The exhibition will also show the David Teniers the Younger’s Boy Blowing Bubbles from the Holburne’s own collection. Previously ascribed to ‘Imitator of David Teniers the Younger’, recent research undertaken by the Holburne Museum has revealed a new attribution to Teniers himself.

Bruegel: Defining a Dynasty is curated by the Holburne’s Director, Jennifer Scott, and Dr Amy Orrock, independent art historian and Bruegel specialist, and will provide the opportunity to understand and reimagine the Bruegel familial relationships, investigating the developments of the artists’ individual styles and the way in which they asserted both their artistic heritage and their independence. Visitors can compare the development of ‘Bruegelian’ iconography over 150 years, through works by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, his sons Pieter Brueghel the Younger and Jan Brueghel the Elder, their direct descendants (Jan van Kessel the Elder) and artists that married into the family (David Teniers the Younger). In particular, the exhibition will highlight Pieter Brueghel the Younger’s artistic talents, reinstating him as an important artist in his own right.

A book to accompany the exhibition Bruegel: Defining a Dynasty is written by Amy Orrock and published by Philip Wilson and will be on sale in the Holburne’s Gift Shop for £16.95.

Amy Orrock said, ‘Undertaking research for the exhibition and accompanying book has provided a wonderful opportunity to explore and celebrate the Bruegel dynasty in addition to making new discoveries.’


10499 - 20170514 - Kunsthalle Basel presents Maria Loboda's first institutional solo exhibition in Switzerland - Basel - 14.05.2017

Maria Loboda, Young Warrior in the Landscape Watching the Birds Go By (Pastoral), 2017, in Havoc in the Heavenly Kingdom, Kunsthalle Basel, 2017.
Pay attention to her titles. There is subterfuge in Maria Loboda’s use of language and in her deployment of stories at once obscure, magical, or strange in the making of her art. Their historical exactitude is largely ir- relevant; what matters is that they circulate and in so doing tell us something about our desires, fears, pasts, and potential futures. As a student, the artist’s first public presentation was an assembly of rather ordinary items, including white wood, verbena, fine steel, goatskin, and green ribbons. But its title, The Evocation of Lucifuge Rofocale (2004), meant that visitors who read it inadvertently found themselves calling forth the dark lord in a room full of all the items from the classic demonological recipe to summon him. The project revealed the artist’s persistent fascination with how mere things can be bestowed with a mysterious and auratic force.
What better way, after all, to describe that numinous thing we call “art” than to realize that besides kings and priests and bankers, artists are perhaps the only beings with the power to give value to things that ostensibly have none? Loboda does just that, rendering strange and unforgettable her combinations of willfully austere or simple-looking objects by layering them with encrypted backstories culled from the likes of obscure military treatises, alchemy, mythology, the occult, and museological research. Her tactics are neither nostalgic nor merely referential; rather, she transforms her findings into sculptural and photographic works whose force lies beyond any surface aesthetic appeal.

At Kunsthalle Basel, Loboda’s first institutional solo exhibition in Switzerland, the artist presents an ensemble of newly commissioned works that continue her particular brand of contemporary archaeology.

Loboda has lined the entrance stairs with a sisal runner that leads to Young Satyr Turning to Look at His Tail, a plaster pillar fitted with a satyr’s tail. Its title references a Roman imperial copy of an ancient Greek sculpture, which in Loboda’s hands becomes a cipher for vanity, decadence, and fallen civilizations. The runner that gives prominence to the piece is entitled (loosely borrowing from the 1909 Futurist Manifesto) Trample Your Atavistic Ennui into This Sisal Rug, and is held in place by metal stair rods that conceal any number of items slipped between them that were thought in ancient times to ward off evil. It is the first clue in Loboda’s exhibition that one thing can hide another, and a sly announcement that each element in her installation hovers between mystery and evidence, occultation and evocation.

In the central space of the exhibition, three monumental gates, Hypothetical Reconstruction of a Gateway (V, VI, VII), in various geometric formations, are inspired by the ancient gates of the temple complex of Karnak. Here they signify hypothetical splendor, creating a space of sacred presence, hinting at the long-gone inhabitants who left behind clues to their eccentric existence. Each is painted with a different approximation of the color celadon, typically used as a ceramic glaze for the service of royalty and once thought to calm troubled souls when gazed at long enough. This color that ancient Chinese artisans regarded as “beyond description” is almost impossible to precisely replicate. Inscribed on one gate is a note that points our attention to the third gate’s ledge, where a glass vessel contains a flammable substance and cloth wick, a common do-it-yourself weapon used by rioters, anarchists, and gangsters. This incendiary weapon perhaps reminds us that at the threshold of any great civilization is the power of revolt.

The walls around the gates feature a series of closely cropped, large-scale photographs showing the pants cuffs and shoes of a well-dressed man, perhaps an investment banker or politician, carelessly dirtying his finery in filth and mud. It may be a metaphor for the ways in which those in power reach it through any means. The series is entitled The Evolution of Kings, after an ethnological study of magic and religion that traces the evolution of not only kings and gods, but also sacred and taboo objects—a study that inspired the artist throughout the show.

Appearing as if by divine intervention high above the exhibition’s central gallery is Raw Material Coming from Heaven, a copy of a 1578 fresco whose origins are unknown, discovered in the 1980s in the Bernardine Church in Vilnius. Seemingly haphazardly drawn onto the arcs of the church’s pillar, the awkwardly formed and almost pagan-looking symbol acts as the blackest eye looking down at churchgoers. Here it emanates from a corner of the exhibition, looking down upon Kunsthalle Basel visitors and brandishing magical, pagan properties.

A back room contains a large-scale work entitled Two Idiots Engaged in a Game of Chess, representing an image found on an Egypt Papyrus dating from 1186 to 1069 BC. The image satirizes society and human activity, showing animals in reversals of the natural order: a lion and a strange hoofed creature playing a board game. In Loboda’s version, the image is spread across multiple broken plaster relief fragments that look like excavated archaeological artifacts from an ancient civilization—or perhaps our own.

In the smallest gallery is a high pillar, titled Young Warrior in the Landscape Watching the Birds Go By (Pastoral), anointed with an element of a metal armor and a delicate silk scarf—a reminder that a reflection on war and power underlies Loboda’s cryptic unraveling of our present.

What does it all mean and how does it add up? Extending an exploration of the archaic, the mystical, and the transcendent that has preoccupied her throughout her career, Loboda instills each object in her exhibition with a witchy presence, but rarely leaves us with unequivocal answers about their meaning. And despite the magnitude of the subjects she might address, she maintains a light touch, finding humor in how the arcane can speak to us today. For there is “havoc in the heavenly kingdom,” as her title announces from the start, taking its name from an ancient Chinese myth of Sun Wukong, known as the Monkey King, who is allowed into heaven to better be controlled, but in turn creates mayhem—a veritable metaphor for our present moment. But it also suggests that art and politics are never far apart. If the exhibition is heaven, artists are the divinities that we invite in and who channel chaos, all the better to reveal the power structures that actually order the universe.

Maria Loboda was born in 1979 in Kraków, PL; she lives and works in Berlin.