LONDON - Sotheby’s Sǀ2 is presenting JUST NOW – curated by Bert Kreuk, this selling exhibition presents assertive and witty works by some of the most sought-after and stimulating contemporary artists working today, including Oscar Murillo, Alex Hubbard, Danh Vo and Theaster Gates. For Kreuk, collecting art is part of an educational journey and his faith in the on-going relevance of conceptual art underpins this exhibition. Carefully selected from Kreuk’s own collection, these works reveal an emerging generation of artists who, inspired by traditional techniques, are developing conceptual works that increasingly focus on a performative narrative.
Fru Tholstrup, Director of Sǀ2 in London, said: “Having known Bert Kreuk for almost 20 years, both as a voracious and highly discerning collector and as an exceptionally committed supporter of the arts, we are delighted at his willingness to work with us on this exciting venture. Bert’s keen eye for quality and deeply-held respect for the conceptual ideas of this new generation of artists has resulted in an incredible group of works that offer a valuable, and in many respects unique, insight into the contemporary artistic landscape”.
Bert Kreuk has been collecting art for over twenty years; he began by collecting 19th century and Impressionist pieces but for the last decade he has concentrated his attention on contemporary artworks and particularly those by emerging artists. The turning point was his acquisition of a painting by Christopher Wool which sparked a new interest in conceptual art. Since then Kreuk has focused his collecting on a new generation of artists who he feels express their intentions in an authentic and unique way. The result of this finely nuanced approach is evident in the impressive variety and quality of the works featured in this exhibition.
In addition to working on his own collection, Bert is involved with the Tate Members Council and is a strong supporter of Dutch museums including The Boijmans, Rotterdam and the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague where he recently curated the ground-breaking exhibition Transforming the Known. Many of his works are on loan to public collections and he is in the process of donating works to a number of international museums.
Discussing JUST NOW Bert Kreuk said, “As a collector I am drawn to works which tell a story or express some kind of authentic idea or concept, and I feel the artworks in this exhibition do exactly that. Each of these artists achieves a unique form of expression and that’s what makes them so continuously exciting and relevant. With JUST NOW I wanted to reveal the story of my collection but I also wanted to give people the kind of insight into today’s art world that is only possible when you can experience a whole generation of different artists under one roof.
I have enjoyed living with all of the works in this show but now, having collected quite voraciously over the last few years, I feel the time has come to refine my collection and to fill a few notable gaps by acquiring earlier works which will provide context for the newer art I so enjoy."
Highlights of the exhibition include:
Born in Vietnam in 1975, Danh Vo was only four years old when his family fled the war there, setting out in a homemade boat in the hope of reaching America. They were picked up by a Danish freighter and brought to Denmark, where his family eventually settled. Much of his work engages with his subsequent sense of dislocation and cultural difference, exploring his personal experience in the context of these global historical events and seeking to reconcile the different realities of East and West. In his alphabet series (illustrated, page one) Vo collects old cardboard boxes from Vietnam and transforms them into glowing, golden artworks. The original boxes represent a specific reality for Vo and his transformation of them, via a gilding process that is part of an ancient decorative tradition belonging to both East and West, seeks to combine this reality with an ideal. Vo participated in the Venice Biennale in 2013 and has exhibited in museums worldwide, including the Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Art Institiute of Chicago and the National Gallery of Denmark.
Born in Columbia in 1986, but now living and working in London, Murillo’s cross-cultural upbringing is integral to his work’s lively sense of being product of a communal performance. He works his large-scale canvases on the floor, often over a period of some months, building up paint but also allowing a natural accretion from the objects and people in the studio around him. They develop an integral sense of the time and work that has gone into them, indirectly addressing some of Murillo’s central concerns about social hierarchies and labour relations, but also focusing the viewer’s attention on the act of making as part of the finished artwork. Recently the subject of a major solo exhibition at the South London Gallery, Murillo’s works have also been shown at the MAMA Showroom, Rotterdam, and the Serpentine Gallery, London.
Alex Hubbard’s work has consistently questioned and challenged conventional artistic genres. His video art transforms painting into a performance act, while conversely his painted works often seem the product of a mechanised process. As part of these on-going experiments, Hubbard deliberately works with volatile materials like synthetic resin and fibreglass that dry quickly, forcing the artist into a pressurised creative process that privileges the act of making as much as the result – transforming painting into performance. His iconic Bent Paintings series take transformation in another direction, breaking with the traditional conventions of painting to create canvases of sculptural solidity.
Born in London in 1981, Eddie Peake is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work, encompassing film, performance, painting and sculpture focuses on the relationship between verbal and non-verbal communication. In his stainless steel spray paintings, Peake builds up layers of paint over steel, finally stripping off masking tape to reveal the polished surface beneath. The viewer, mirrored in this surface, finds themselves in the gap created by the words. This preoccupation with highlighting and exploring the ‘negative spaces’ of language is central to Peake’s artistic practice.
Latifa Echakch left Morocco for Switzerland at the age of three, and her subsequent feelings of cultural loss or absence are at the heart of her work. As such, cultural relics have an uneasy significance for her, and her art is concerned with challenging the system of values that we place upon such objects. Her striking Tambour paintings take the tondo – a round painting usually mounted on a ceiling to represent heaven – and literally turn this concept upside down. Echakch drips ink onto the centre of the tondo, creating a dense black hole that completely transforms the original function of the object. Widely celebrated, in 2013 Echakch won the coveted Marcel Duchamp prize, part of which is a solo exhibition at the Centre Georges Pompidou which will open in Autumn 2014.
Formally trained as both a sculptor and an urban planner, Theaster Gates is rooted by a deep sense of social involvement that is inextricably interwoven with his artistic practice. Since 2007, Gates has worked in conjunction with the University of Chicago on a variety of artistic and social projects. His works incorporate found materials which are often part of the specific urban landscape with which he is engaged. Among his most iconic and politically charged works are those that use decommissioned fire hoses, once deployed to help the police control civil rights protestors. These found objects have an immensely charged socio-political history, but in Gates’ hands they are re-appropriated and invested with new meaning. Highly sought-after, Gates has received multiple awards including the Wall Street Journal’s Arts Innovator of the Year and the Vera List Center Prize for Art and Politics in 2012.