General Idea – P is for Poodle

 

2013_GEI00001PressGENERAL IDEA, formed by AA Bronson, Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal in 1969 worked together as a group until the death of two founding members in 1994. Since then, AA Bronson has been the caretaker of their legacy and, with that, of a social and media critical oeuvre covering virtually every possible form of artistic expression, which has been shown in numerous major exhibitions. GENERAL IDEA is as topical today as it ever was. In 2006, Kunsthalle Zürich presented a major exhibition of their work, and more recently, in 2011 and 2012 respectively, there have been important retrospectives at Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris and the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. The current exhibition at the Mai 36 Galerie has been planned to coincide with a show at the Esther Schipper Galerie, Berlin (opening October 11) and has been realized with AA Bronson’s great support. Mai 36 Galerie has been presenting the work of GENERAL IDEA through various exhibitions since 1989.

Courtesy of Mai 36 Galerie

Courtesy of Mai 36 Galerie

The blurring of the boundary between reality and fiction was addressed in the work of GENERAL IDEA right from the start. The name of the collective evokes a broad-based solution to widespread needs, in much the same way as company names such as General Motors or General Electric. One of the early highlights of their work was their staging of the 1971 Miss General Idea Pageant. This beauty contest, celebrated over the course of several years with a mix of pomp and humour by audience, jury members and candidates alike, reflected the glamour of consumer society and its business acumen. The pageant was accompanied by a wide range of related works, editions and multiples, and the concept was taken one step further with the imaginary The 1984 Miss General Idea Pavillion as a kind of “vessel”, as it were, architecturally designed by GENERAL IDEA. Fictitiously burned down in 1977, their Pavillion lived on in the form of subsequently created artefacts such as the Pavillion Poodle Fragments, 1983-1984, in which remains of the Pavillion were presented in the form of archaeological finds. The group’s works often featured poodles, but also skulls. The poodle as metaphor – “…in a word, our desire to please: those that live to please must please to live” – appears as an early reference to the issue of AIDS, to which GENERAL IDEA would later dedicate an entire group of works.

Courtesy of Mai 36 Galerie

Courtesy of Mai 36 Galerie

A new beginning is heralded by the series of Baby Paintings of 1984, including their well-known Baby Makes 3 self-portrait. Although shadowy and barely discernible in an undefined space, they seem to have an almost indecent vitality, as though representing some new life-force inscribed in the firmament. In FILE Megazine (art magazine, 28 issues published from 1972-89) another focal point and platform for their self-projection they state: “We are concerned with the web of fact and fiction that binds and releases mythologies that are the sum experience of artists and non-artists in co-operative existence today.”

Courtesy of Mai 36 Galerie

Courtesy of Mai 36 Galerie

Mai 36 Galerie

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Jitish Kallat

Galerie Daniel Templon is celebrating the new season with the first ever French solo exhibition of work by Indian artist Jitish Kallat, a stimulating voice on the contemporary art scene in recent years.

Courtesy Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris. Photo : Iris Dreams, Mumbai

Courtesy Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris. Photo : Iris Dreams, Mumbai

Known for his seminal shows such as ‘Public Notice 3’, his year-long solo exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago or photographic installations such as Epilogue with its 22,000 moons made of Indian breads, Jitish Kallat will be taking visitors on an evocative journey through the two Galerie Templon spaces with a complex series of works in mixed media: painting, sculpture, text, photography and video. Through his wide mediumistic repertoire, Jitish Kallat converts a chronicle of the cycle of life in a fast-transforming India, into arresting artworks. His works emerge out of varied autobiographical, art-historical and political references. Weaving together strands of sociology, biology and archaeology, the artist takes an ironic and poetic look at the altered relationship between nature and culture, the strangeness that lies at the heart of everyday life, the enduring presence of the spiritual at the heart of material deterioration. For his exhibition at the gallery, the artist is focusing on simple everyday experiences such as sleep, being searched at a checkpoint, commuting or dining. By altering scale or form, he shifts from familiarity to off-kilter visual conundrums and metaphoric associations imbued with a playful ambiguity and deeper meaning.

Courtesy Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris. Photo : Iris Dreams, Mumbai

Courtesy Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris. Photo : Iris Dreams, Mumbai

Jitish Kallat deliberately places divergent fields of stimuli next to each other as if to force a dialogue between representation and abstraction, history and myth, the past and the present, the identifiable and the incongruous. Shown in ‘The Hour of the Day of the Month of the Season’, plates left at the dinner table become a constellation of planets, a mattress metamorphoses into a motorway bridge, seven rotis (an Indian bread) become lunar cycles that appear out of nowhere only to vanish once again. An installation of reduced-scale sculptures takes the form of a miniature allegorical theatre, where the poses struck by the characters, travellers being searched at an airport checkpoint, bring to mind a ceremonial dance. In the artist’s recent paintings, a daily commute becomes a fertile breeding ground for a range of imagery, to erupt, festooning a given moment with densely layered meaning.

Courtesy Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris. Photo : Iris Dreams, Mumbai

Courtesy Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris. Photo : Iris Dreams, Mumbai

Covering Letter, exhibited at the Impasse space, is a piece of historical correspondence beamed onto a fog curtain: a brief letter written by Gandhi to Hitler in 1939 urging him to reconsider his violent means. Kallat describes the note as a haiku; a plea from a great advocate of peace to possibly one of the most violent individuals that ever lived, it is equally an invitation to self-reflection.

Courtesy Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris. Photo : Iris Dreams, Mumbai

Courtesy Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris. Photo : Iris Dreams, Mumbai

Born in Mumbai in 1974, Jitish Kallat embodies an artistic revival and he is part of the new generation of contemporary Indian artists whose work has received wide visibility. His work has been exhibited internationally at exhibitions such as ‘CenturyCity’ at London’s Tate Modern (2001), ‘Indian Highway’ at the Serpentine Gallery, also in London (2008), ‘Chalo! India’ at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo (2008), ‘Die Tropen’ at Martin Gropius Bau in Berlin (2008), ‘India Contemporary’ at the Gemeente Museum in The Hague (2009), ‘Indian Highway’ at Oslo’s Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art (2009) and ‘Car Fetish’ at the Musée Tinguely in Basel (2011). In 2011, the Dr Bau Daji Lad Museum in Mumbai dedicated a major solo exhibition to the artist: ‘Fieldnotes: Tomorrow was Here Yesterday’, followed by a solo titled ‘Circa’ at the Ian Potter Museum of Art in Melbourne. His work has been seen in France at the Ecole nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts (‘Indian Summer’, 2005), Musée national d’art moderne-Centre Pompidou (‘Paris, Delhi, Bombay’, 2011), MAC in Lyon (‘Indian Highway’, 2011) and Tri Postal in Lille (‘La Route de la Soie’, 2010/11).

Galerie Daniel Templon