OPENING SUN 03.02.2019
Invited artists : Israel Lund, Louis Cane, Andy Boot, Mark Flood, Landon Metz, Josh Smith, Adrien Vescosi, Harmony Korine, Damien De Lepeleire, Eric Croes, Benoit Platéus, John Roebas, Julien Meert, Leo Gabin, Max Frintrop, Patrick Carpentier, Paul Cowan, Sarah Crowner, Manor Grunewald, Valerian Goalec, Bill Saylor, Ines Claus, Polly Huyghe, Michael St. John, Bas Van Den Hurk, Colin Penno, Dieter Durinck & Elke Van De Kerckvoorde, Jean-Baptiste Bernadet, Max Kesteloot, Marius Lut, Luc Fuller, Samuel Francois, Simon Laureyns, Peter Waterschoot, Tim Onderbeke, Stefan Peters, Michiel Ceulers, Albert Oehlen, Bert Huyghe, Jana Schröder, Benjamin Houlihan, Michail Pirgelis, Peppi Bottrop, Tobias Hofknecht, Marlies De Clerck, Joep Van Liefland, Stien Bekaert, William Crawford, Thomas Wachholz, Xavier Mary, Fabian Ginsberg, Arnaud Eubelen, Eva L’Hoest, Walter Swennen and Claire Decet.
Text by Ory Dessau
As stated in its declaration of intentions, the exhibition Neighbours presents “the art collections, about 60 works shown from different nationalities and backgrounds, of a selection of invited visual artists … (the) art collections originated from an exchange with fellow artists. The aim of the exhibition is to demonstrate the mutual connections and field of interest of the artists involved. This without being dependent on commercial restrictions accompanied by the term ‘art collector’”. To a certain extent, the exhibition reacts against the system of the institutionalized art world and art market, which involves a network of galleries, dealers, and speculators. It abandons this system in favor of an alternative network which strictly involves a direct interaction between artists. In this sense, the exhibition resonates the spirit of the European avant-garde movement of the 1920s-1930s that gathered artists from all over the continent through a prolific series of exhibitions, magazines, and other initiatives, e.g., art collections. One collection that comes to mind in this context is the collection of the Polish Avant-Garde group “a.r.”.
“a.r.” group was founded in Lodz in 1929 by painter Wladyslaw Strzeminski, sculptor Katarzyna Kobro, painter Henryk Stazewski, and poets Jan Brzekowski and Julian Przybos. In the same year, among its many activities, the group started to promote Strzeminski’s vision of an international art collection with works by the most influential artists of the time. According to Strzeminski’s plan, the collection would be stored in Lodz and managed as a public property. The group’s call was answered with great enthusiasm, and during the early 1930s many significant members of the avant-garde movement (artists like Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Hans Art, Fernand Leger, Max Ernst, and Kurt Schwitters, to name a few out of the many that reacted positively to the call) donated works. The list of artists the group approached reflected the different stages of modern art, from Cubism to Futurism and Constructivism, all the way to Neoplasticism.
In 1931, the collection started to evolve into a meaningful event in the history of Lodz and modern Polish culture, as well as in the history of the avant-garde movement as it began to serve as the foundation of a public art collection which would later become the basis of a museum of modern art. Functional and active until today, this museum of modern art (Muzeum Stzuki, Lodz), started as a collection initiated and donated by artists, and therefore, since its inauguration in 1931, serves not only as a public institute, but also as both a social act and an ongoing artistic act.
The exhibition Neighbours is arranged as a social habitat “on one monumental wall”. As such , it refers to the classic salons d’art of Paris, but its anti-institutional aspects recall another kind of art salon, namely the Salon de Refusés (the exhibition of the rejects), which included works by artists who were rejected by the jury of the official Paris salons. The term Salon de Refusés is mainly relating to one specific salon which took place in 1863, and is considered one of the primary origins of modern anti academic painting of artists such as Edouard Manet. The anti-generic, anti-disciplinary arrangement of the salon-like wall of Neighbours seems to continue to resist the restrictions imposed by the jury of the official Paris salons.
Artist collections are more than an inventory of works. When an artist owns a work by another artist he or she are in fact saying something about their own artistic practice and its connection to the artist whose work they own. They extend their art into the art of the other artist, manifesting their own art does not prevail in a vacuum, but is part of a whole chain of artists, with whom they not only trade works, but collaborate in the deepest sense of the word collaboration.