19th January - 29th March 2008



In our today contemporary culture, it seems like the old dividing line between artists and designers is becoming more and more blurry. Sharing the same scope of inspiration and experimentation, today these creators are not only questioning the limit of the work of art and the everyday object but also investigating our contemporary culture. On the one hand, realizing that form is no longer defined by its pure function but by its meaning, designers started to think in terms of concept. On the other hand, artists are more and more fascinated with design and how it has influenced our visual and popular culture. Thus nowadays, artists and designers are not only exploring each other strategies and fields but also collaborating together. The exhibition ‘Echo” hopes to present a series of projects reflecting these various and commun creative practices. Among the creators invited to participate:

John Armleder
Richard Artschwager
Robert Barry
Karen Chekerdjian
Herbert Hamak
Timo Nasseri
Michelangelo Pistoletto
Keith Sonnier
 

 

John Armleder
born 1948 in Geneva. Lives and works in Geneva and New York
 
John Armleder, one of the most important Swiss contemporary artists, was heavily involved with Fluxus during the 1960s and 1970s and was a founder member of the Groupe Ecart in 1969, known primarily for their performances and publications. His work continues to demonstrate the preoccupations of these groups by abandoning hierarchies of different artistic genres and objects. In earlier works he questioned the notion of the authenticity of art with installations that united found objects with abstract paintings executed by Armleder himself, many of which ironically referred to previous modernist examples. He creates dialogues between disparate objects by placing them within an exhibition context, raising the question of possible equivalences that are created between them when viewed in such a setting.

 

  • exhibtion view Galerie Sfeir-Semler Beirut
    exhibtion view Galerie Sfeir-Semler Beirut

  • exhibtion view Galerie Sfeir-Semler Beirut
    exhibtion view Galerie Sfeir-Semler Beirut

  • Armleder_Chekerdjian.jpg
    Armleder_Chekerdjian.jpg

  • John Armleder, Untitled (circulare-green-gold), Ink printed on canvas, 2002, 100 cm Ø
    John Armleder, Untitled (circulare-green-gold), Ink printed on canvas, 2002, 100 cm Ø

  • John Armleder, Untitled (circulare-violet-blue), Ink printed on canvas, 2002, 100 cm Ø
    John Armleder, Untitled (circulare-violet-blue), Ink printed on canvas, 2002, 100 cm Ø

  • John Armleder, Untitled (circulare-red-blue), Ink printed on canvas, 2002, 100 cm Ø
    John Armleder, Untitled (circulare-red-blue), Ink printed on canvas, 2002, 100 cm Ø

  • John Armleder, Untitled (circulare-violet-blue), Ink printed on canvas, 2002, 100 cm Ø
    John Armleder, Untitled (circulare-violet-blue), Ink printed on canvas, 2002, 100 cm Ø

  • John Armleder, Untitled, 1995, mixed media dripping on canvas, 100 x 100 cm
    John Armleder, Untitled, 1995, mixed media dripping on canvas, 100 x 100 cm

 

 

Richard Artschwager
born 1923 in Washington DC, USA of German-Russian parents. Lives and works near Hudson, NY

Artschwager is one of the pioneers of contemporary object and installation art, his three-dimensional paintings and two-dimensional sculptures wittily evoke associations with commonplace objects such as furniture and household appliances. Artschwager believed fundamentally in the use of the forms of everyday objects as the basis for his sculpture. While he shared some of these views with his Pop contemporaries, such as Claes Oldenburg, Artschwager's cerebral approach and lack of interest in emulating the bright colors and advertising of capitalist culture in his art set him outside the borders of Pop, and aligning him more closely with, if anyone, the early 20th century surrealist, Marcel Duchamp.

 

  • exhibition view Galerie Sfeir Semler Beirut
    exhibition view Galerie Sfeir Semler Beirut

  • Richard Artschwager,
    Richard Artschwager, "Zeno´s Paradox", 2004

  • Richard Artschwager,
    Richard Artschwager, "Four Approximate Objects", 1970/1991, ed. 30, 8,9 x 37,2 x 34,6 cm

  • Richard Artschwager,
    Richard Artschwager, "Klock", 1989, clock mechanism, ed.25, 18,4 x 109,5 x 9,5 cm

  • Richard Artschwager,
    Richard Artschwager, "Exclamation Point", 2006

  • Richard Artschwager, Untitled (Dat- Dat- Dat- Dah), 2007
    Richard Artschwager, Untitled (Dat- Dat- Dat- Dah), 2007

 

 Robert Barry

1936 in New York City. Lives and works in Taeneck, New Jersey/USA


Robert Barry is one of the most important protagonists of American conceptual art. His work was exhibited in major international exhibitions of contemporary art, like the Documenta in Kassel and the Biennale of Venice in 1972. Among the conceptual artists who worked more specifically with language, Barry occupies an important position on the bordeline of visul art, poetry and philosophy. He has been working for the last thirty years with words and thoughts which he disperses or projects methodically on a variety of supports or surfaces such as paper, canvas, mirror, wall, floor.

 

  • exhibition view Galerie Sfeir-Semler Beirut
    exhibition view Galerie Sfeir-Semler Beirut

  • Robert Barry,
    Robert Barry, "Mirror Piece I", 2007, unique, 150 x 150 cm

  • Robert Barry,
    Robert Barry, "Mirror Piece II", 2007, 150 x 150 cm

  • Robert Barry,
    Robert Barry, "Mirror Piece III", 2007, etched words and etched mirror, 130 x 130 cm

 

 

 Karen Chekerdjian
born 1970 in Beirut. Lives in Beirut
 
Karen Chekerdjian studied film direction in Paris (ESRA) and Beirut (USJ). She is the co-founder of the communication and Graphic-design Company Mind the Gap- Beirut. After her Master in Industrial Design at the Domus Academy in Milan and a specialization in Design Direction under the supervision of Massimo Morozzi and Ampelio Bucci, she created different objects and furniture, which were produced by the EDRA furniture company. She is developing several projects on her own, which are presented in major design fairs in Milan, Paris, Cologne, New York and Beirut.

 

  • exhibition view Galerie Sfeir-Semler Beirut
    exhibition view Galerie Sfeir-Semler Beirut

  • Karen Chekerdjian,
    Karen Chekerdjian, "Disappearance of Objects, Object 02", 2006, mirrored stainless steel, ed. 10, 20

  • Karen Chekerdjian,
    Karen Chekerdjian, "Disappearance of Objects, Object 03 (Stools)", 2006

  • Karen Chekerdjian,
    Karen Chekerdjian, "Iqar", 1995, polished alu, 125 x 40 x 95 cm

  • Karen Chekerdjian,
    Karen Chekerdjian, "Disappearance of Objects, Object02 (black)", 2006, laquered stainlesssteel, 160

  • Karen Chekerdjian,
    Karen Chekerdjian, "Rolling Stones", 2002, 40 cm Ø

  • Karen Chekerdjian,
    Karen Chekerdjian, "Rolling Stones", 2002, 40 cm Ø

 

 

 Herbert Hamak
born 1952 in Unterfranken/Germany. Lives and works in Hammelburg/ Germany
 
Hamak’s works which lies between painting and sculpture, impress because they are strongly structured, rigorous, transparent and ambiguous entities. The transparency is such as to capture and retain light. The ambiguity lies in the vitreous consistency of the material, a midway point between solid, liquid and airy. The process with which he attains these forms is extremely slow and complex. It is the result of a working method bordering on artistic and scientific experiments using a skilfully prepared mixture of pigments of both natural and synthetic resin and wax. If the surface of a painting usually reflects the light, by contrast light penetrates Hamak's paintings.

 

 

  • exhibition view Galerie Sfeir-Semler Beirut
    exhibition view Galerie Sfeir-Semler Beirut

  • Herbert Hamak, Untitled (transparent & orange), 2003, pigment in epoxy on canvas, 92 x 42 x 10 cm
    Herbert Hamak, Untitled (transparent & orange), 2003, pigment in epoxy on canvas, 92 x 42 x 10 cm

  • Herbert Hamak, Untitled (green / red), 2002, pigment in epoxy on canvas, 32 x 16 x 25,5 cm
    Herbert Hamak, Untitled (green / red), 2002, pigment in epoxy on canvas, 32 x 16 x 25,5 cm

  • Herbert Hamak, Untitled (pink / orange), 2003, pigment in epoxy on canvas, 155 x 20 x 8 cm
    Herbert Hamak, Untitled (pink / orange), 2003, pigment in epoxy on canvas, 155 x 20 x 8 cm

  • Herbert Hamak, Untitled (blue), 2007, pigment in epoxy on canvas, 40 x 40 x 21 cm
    Herbert Hamak, Untitled (blue), 2007, pigment in epoxy on canvas, 40 x 40 x 21 cm

 

 

Timo Nasseri
born 1972 in Berlin of German-Iranian parents. Lives and works in Berlin


In 1997 Timo Nasseri graduated in photography from the Berliner Lette-Verein. Between 1997 and 2005 he worked for several projects in Germany, Iran, USA, China, Pakistan, Bolivia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan. Originally known for his photographs showing a fragment of the object which he is documenting, like the outer surface of fighter aircrafts, Nasseri has now turned to Persian calligraphy sculptures. “Timo Nasseri's work is not so much preoccupied with the serialisation and pure documentation of the depicted subject, but with the process of thoughts and events that - invisible to the viewer - form the context of the individual images. Without direct criticism, Nasseri's photographic and sculptural work deals with socio-political aspects of our times. By showing only a fragment of the subject he is documenting, he leaves the viewer the necessary space to reconstruct the images according to his personal experiences. "

 

  • Exhibition view Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut
    Exhibition view Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut

  • Exhibition view Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut
    Exhibition view Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut

  • Timo Nasseri,
    Timo Nasseri, "Raad", 2007, Wood and Aluminium sheet, 120 x 70 x 22 cm

  • Timo Nasseri,
    Timo Nasseri, "Fajr", 2007, Wood and Aluminium sheet, 148 x 95 x 22 cm

 

 

 

 Michelangelo Pistoletto
born 1933 in Biella / Italy. Lives and works in Torino/Italy
 
Michelangelo Pistoletto is one of the most important protagonists of the Arte Povera mouvement. He gained international recognition with his “Mirror Paintings” in which life-size images of the human figure, usually shown in arrested action, were applied to a polished stainless-steel back-ground as if it were a canvas. Breaking down traditional notions of figurative art, these works reflected the surroundings and the spectator and so made them part of the work, linking art and life, the past and the present in an ever-changing spectacle. In 1965, he began his series Minus Objects, furniture-like sculptures that, instead of being yet more objects in a commodity-obsessed society, offered rewarding psychological and physical experiences for each individual viewer. In 1998 Pistoletto founded in Biella Italy, Cittadellarte Fondazione Pistoletto, a center for the study and promotion of creative activity

 

  • Michelangelo Pistoletto, exhibition view
    Michelangelo Pistoletto, exhibition view

 

  • up side down, 1976
    up side down, 1976

  • Mediterranean Flag (red), 2005
    Mediterranean Flag (red), 2005

  • From Year One, 1962/1991, ed.13/30
    From Year One, 1962/1991, ed.13/30

 

 Keith Sonnier
1941 in Mamou Louisiana/USA. Lives and works in New York
 
Keith Sonnier is a minimalist, performance, video and light artist. Sonnier was one of the first artists to use light in sculpture in the 60s, and has been one of the most successful with this technique. Since the late sixties, Sonnier has contributed to the development of a new concept of sculpture through the use of inexpensive materials until then unnoticed in art, such as felt, fiberglass, lead, fat, latex, wire, neon, aluminum and glass. One of his most spectacular works is the over one kilometer long “Lichtweg” connecting different terminals at the Munich Airport. 

 

  • Keith Sonnier, exhibition view, Galerie Sfeir-Semler Beirut
    Keith Sonnier, exhibition view, Galerie Sfeir-Semler Beirut

  • Keith Sonnier,
    Keith Sonnier, "Stop and go/rot-blau", 2000, neonlights, cable, transformer, ed.10, 55 x 12 cm

  • Keith Sonnier,
    Keith Sonnier, "Cohla Junction Series VI", 2005, Masonite and neon, encaustic, unique, 77 x 39 x 40

  • Keith Sonnier,
    Keith Sonnier, "Blatt Light/Blatt Serie", 1995, neonlighs, cable, transformer, unique, 160 x 80 x 60

  • Keith Sonnier,
    Keith Sonnier, "Halo", 2002, neonlights, cable, transformer, Ed.10, 35 x 43 x 40 cm

 

 

 

 'Questions that you never want to answer'
 
Figuring out Armenian-Lebanese designer Karen Chekerdjian's work is hard to do - and that's the point

By Kaelen Wilson-Goldie, Friday, January 25, 2008
Daily Star staff

BEIRUT: It's the early days of the US-led war in Iraq and Karen Chekerdjian, a Beirut-born designer, has just relocated to Amman. She is an ardent fan of origami. When she married, not long ago, she sent out her wedding invitations folded in origami fashion. But now she is alone in the Jordanian capital and listening to the sounds of aircraft overhead with incrementally mounting anxiety. To pass the time, she folds a paper plane, then another and then another still. But her aircraft - fragile, delicate, light and artfully rendered - seem incapable of even mentally counterbalancing the ominous referents that are buzzing above her. She decides to make one out of metal.
Chekerdjian, who has forged a career out of critically confusing the boundaries between art and object, pays a visit to a nearby metal workshop. It takes her three months to convince the craftsman there that an aluminum sheet can indeed be folded as nimbly and precisely as her paper planes. He refuses, tells her it's impossible and then finally acquiesces. They cut the aluminum sheet with a knife on one side, fold it by hand and then weld the front seam for support. Chekerdjian takes the name of a torn-apart country, rearranges the letters, adds a phonetic similarity to the French name for the Greek mythological figure Icarus and names her piece, produced in an edition of 12, "Iqar."
A year later, on a cloudy day, Chekerdjian is back in Beirut and drops by XXe Siecle, the Hamra design gallery that serves as the agent for her work. She is looking for her metal plane, which doubles deceptively as a coffee table. She can't find it. She spends 15 minutes pacing the gallery's ground floor, wondering if Soheil Hanna, XXe Siecle's irrepressibly charming director, was disappointed in the piece. Finally she spots it, right in front of her. Amid the vintage Italian light fixtures and chairs by the likes of Oscar Niemeyer and Jean Royere, "Iqar" simply loses itself. Its shiny surface reflects everything around it but doesn't announce the presence of another competing design object. Chekerdjian smiles. She likes the disappearing act very much.
The three stages of this story - inspiration, production and display - underpin Chekerdjian's participation in "Echo," the latest, expansive group show to open at Galerie Sfeir-Semler in Karantina. An exploration of the overlap between art and design, "Echo" features the work of eight artists ranging from Italian Arte Povera pioneer Michelangelo Pistoletto, 74, and veteran minimalist Keith Sonnier, 66, to Iranian-German newcomer Timo Nasseri, 35.
The show is remarkably rich, packing the 1,000-square-meter space with more than 35 pieces that, true to the title, visually echo and in many cases literally reflect one another. From the right angle, Pistoletto's mirror picture "Mediterranean Flag (Red)" catches and refracts the image of Nasseri's 2007 sculpture in wood and aluminum sheet. Entitled "Fajr," Nasseri's piece consists of three letters in Arabic script and a loaded double-entendre. "Fajr" means "dawn," and it is also the name of a well-known, Iranian-made missile. The same applies to Nasseri's companion piece "Raad," which means "thunder." Another piece, not on view for this show but a part of the same series, is named "Shahab," which means "falling star." Nasseri has seized on the fact that all these missiles are named for natural phenomena.
Galerie Sfeir-Semler, which opened in Beirut three years ago and has a sister branch in Hamburg with more than two decades of experience behind it, is known for its work with minimalist and conceptual art. "Echo" plays up the former and is the most tactile show so far to open at the gallery in Lebanon. It is also the first for which gallery director Nathalie Khoury, who has a background in graphic design and previously produced a terrific collection of purses and evening clutches, has been heavily involved in shaping.
"I wanted people from this part of the world who are not necessarily conceptual," Khoury says, "who are not the artists we know," a reference to artists such as Walid Raad and Rabih Mroue, who are represented by the gallery and known for making intensely intellectual work. "I wanted people who are working in a different way. We have a lot of talented people who are not artists but whose work is as interesting and powerful as the contemporary art we know."
The result is, essentially, a show of sculptures that explore form and function rather than sociopolitical critique, though such distinctions are deliberately unstable. Chekerdjian is exhibiting "Iqar" along with examples of her "Rolling Stones" and pieces from her "Disappearance of Objects" series, which was inspired by the experience of losing her table among other works at XXe Siecle.
Her work is also a lesson for local designers and artists alike who struggle to carve out a place for themselves between disciplines and who fight to translate their ideas into pieces that can actually be produced.
"With all of my work," she says, "you don't know if it's an object or a sculpture ... if it is useful or not. And these are the questions," she smiles, "that you never want to answer. My work is always on the edge between object and art. My aim is always to have functionality. But utility isn't the only issue."
What's more, she explains, because Lebanon isn't an industrial powerhouse, it makes more sense for designers with artistic aspirations to create prototypes. And prototypes are expensive. They are, perhaps by default, closer to rarified art than accessible design.
"Now in my office, I have a list of craftsmen I can work with," Chekerdjian says. "We are limited in what we can produce here. You have to get into the space of production, of finding solutions. And you have to have an approach of experimentation, where everything is possible."
Copyright (c) 2008 The Daily Star