DESKTOP - artists have used the office desk as their muse - exhibiting the finished work in the office space
ARTISTS: Alexandra Baraitser/Roland Hicks/Kasper Pincis/Sirpa Pajunen-Moghissi/Ekkehard Altenburger
EXHIBITION: 25 - 26 January 2017 at THE OFFICE GROUP, 91 Wimpole Street, Marylebone, London W1
Curated by Alexandra Baraitser in association with ArtKapsule and Office Group 25-26 Jan 2017
An assemblage of computer, pens, books, paper weights, elastic bands and blue tac, visible on a desk, establish the possibility of “work” within the domestic sphere. Yet these same mini-exhibitions of material objects appear oddly domestic, or personal when clustered on the desks of office spaces, providing an echo of the mundanity of everyday life within the increasingly corporatized spaces of work. Indeed, the word desktop, used to describe the computer interface, often uses icons that are visual representations of these material objects, cut free from their situatedness in either home or work.
The artists in this exhibition use the desktop as a starting point for explorations of the transitions between work and everyday spaces, and between virtual and imaginary spaces. The desktop has the ability to transport us from the domestic to the public, from the actual physical world, to worlds of pure imagination, such as the augmented reality of cyberspace. The exhibition is a study of these complex processes of migration and reality.
Roland Hicks’ artwork includes paintings, sculpture and trompe l’oeil reliefs which scrutinise the overlooked items of our daily lives. The pieces on show in ‘Desktop’ examine items of stationery turned into spontaneous sculptures, evidence of a minimal creative gesture. These intuitive creative acts, hastily assembled, are slowly and painstakingly recreated under Hicks’ hand, amplifying even the smallest of gestures and making us reconsider the mundane material that surrounds us. Rubber bands, push-pins, blu-tack and pieces of tape acquire an intriguing presence as he builds a tense relationship between figuration and abstraction. His works possess an inherent sense of absurdity as to why someone would assemble such compositions and it continues to question the point at which something becomes ‘Art’. Hicks playfully distorts where his creative process begins and ends; whether it is through the original assemblage, the painting process or the hand sculpted re-creation. Concerned with both the beautiful and banal, his work is infused with dualities; it is earnest yet playful, abstract and at once figurative, both simulated and authentic.
Sirpa is interested in exploring a mix of various media and materials. Layering them becomes a focus and part of the concept. Sometimes she uses elements originating from wood cuts carved over 30 years ago by her late mother the artist Seija Guttormsen . She uses photography ether found in old newspapers or that she has taken herself. Her artworks are created through multiple layering and by a process of deconstruction and arrangement. The final image combines an exploration of a range of materials (paints are bought from both art shops and DIY shops), with an investigation of the connections and associations of the visual history, whether aquired or inherited.
Baraitser's work pays homage to the greatest designs of the twentieth century. Her recent paintings are a series based on Copenhagen's fashionable “Illums Bolighus” department store, the kind of shop where people go for retail therapy or more often to simply imagine themselves living in their dream home. The spaces are inviting - the bright lighting sales floor is an attractive place that is flooded with warmth, hovering between shop, home and a giant dolls house. For DESKTOP she has painted a designer lamp surrounded by towers of books. This, at the end of an era of western civilisation, is specific to the contemporary relationship we have with places we call home and spaces we inhabit.
The sculptor Ekkehard Altenburger grew up on a farm at the Swiss / German border, and is based in the UK since 1995. He studied sculpture - first at Bremen's Hochschule fuer Kuenste and later at Edinburgh College of art. He finished his studies in 1999 with an MA from Chelsea College of art in London. Prior to his academic studies, he worked as master mason at the Gothic Cathedral of Schwabisch Gmuend in South Germany. Architecture has always influenced his work, which was the main reason for moving to London, to develop a practice very much inspired by the city that constantly inspires, challenges and informs his work. Meeting and filming the then 94 year old architect Oscar Niemeyer in 2001 in his Office at the Copacabana left a lasting influence. His work explores the physical balance of the built environment, using architectural references as well as sculptural volumes of physical material. This balance is also represented in the relationship between form and surface of a sculpture. Altenburger often uses texture and colour to manipulate surfaces, adding a further layer of information to a sculptural form.Altenburger usually works in heavy materials, mainly steel and stone. More recently he has developed prints and drawings in paper, which appear as assembled reliefs. Many of his works are in the public domain, where he developed site-specific works for both private and public clients. Due to the scale of his works, Altenburger regularly works with quarries and Granite / Marble factories throughout Europe.
Kasper studied his BA in Fine Art and History of Art at Goldsmiths College, University of London in 2001-4, and Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Art at the Royal Academy Schools, 2004-7. He lives and works in London, and is represented by dalla Rosa in London and Aanant & Zoo in Berlin.
Recently my work has become more and more focused on a process that achieves the maximum effect from the most economical, if repetitive, of means. Originally my work was interested in the aesthetics of the vicarious experience of 'exploration' with research conducted via library books, slide shows and borrowed narratives from episodes such as the ascent of Everest or the Kon Tiki expedition. It seems to have flipped now from images of the heroic, underscored by the domestic and mundane, to an almost heroic performance of that mundane and bureaucratic process- typing the letter 'o' almost two million times on a typewriter or photocopying every page of the encyclopedia onto one sheet of paper.