Julius von Bismarck
May 16 — Jun 20
Marlborough Chelsea is pleased to present Landscape Painting the first U.S. exhibition of German artist Julius von Bismarck. Featuring a two-channel video, a pair of large- scale photographs and a stone sculpture, the show is a concise distillation of the artist’s multivalent and globalized practice.
Primarily concerned with the intersection between nature and culture, von Bismarck engages the wilderness as a site for direct intervention. The artist is increasingly well known in Europe for works that involve the artist lashing the ocean with a bullwhip, or firing hobby rockets into a Venezuelan lightning storm in an attempt to straighten the path of the bolts to the ground. Quixotic actions, often with quite strange and beautiful results, that investigate science, phenomenology, art history and mythology are von Bismarck’s fertile terrain.
For this exhibition, von Bismarck engages the tradition of landscape painting by, quite literally, painting the landscape. In the remote Mexican desert, the artist and a crew of local workers first covered a vista of rocks, earth and cacti in white paint, and then proceeded to realistically repaint it in its actual colors. The process becomes fodder for a poetic documentary-style video and the resulting “painting” the subject of a large-scale digital photograph. This action was repeated in the jungle, in collaboration with Maya painters, and makes up the other half of the video projection.
Additionally, the artist has used a sophisticated digital milling machine to hollow out a boulder, rendering it wafer-thin and impossibly light, with only its surface remaining. This sculpture is reinforced and made permanent by way of an elaborately engineered fiberglass and steel girding system. This allows the stone to be easily moved and even suspended in air, lending the work a brand of matter-of-fact magic that nicely encapsulates von Bismarck’s artistic agenda.