This year, Berlin’s Neugerriemschneider gallery has mounted a group exhibition at Basel, with bold colours, luscious eye-candy and quite a few hidden sex toys. Our inner magpies were intrigued.
Tobias Rehberger’s Oki Nami Ura, Katsushika Hokusai is gathering a lot of attention. A wall mosaic of coloured tiles – oddly reminiscent of a London public restroom – both conceals and reveals the matching pillars that stand in front of it, depending on your viewing angle. On closer inspection, these pillars act as podiums and hiding places for colourful sex toys that sit about the exhibit looking strangely clean and sterile. Did Rehberger ask fellow artist Paul McCarthy for advice on avoiding pitchfork-wielding crowds with such displays after butt-gate (or should that be plug-gate?) at FIAC last year?
Olafur Eliasson’s wall of eyeball-like crystal spheres offers an equally photogenic pull from the surrounding art noise. Your Solar Nebula consists of a lot of glass spheres, wall mounted, all with a large black pupil pointing in the same direction. Of different sizes, yet all reflecting lines from the same angle, this is a satisfyingly visual work that can be enjoyed for just that, offering plenty of ‘retinal pleasure’, as Marcel Duchamp might have put it.
Turning the everyday brick into a thing of beauty, Pae White’s Executive Function, Tuesday is made up of 114 mirrored, hand-blown glass blocks. Playing with the inherent strength of the brick and the delicacy of glass, this work is an experiment with materiality that, again, is hugely pleasing to be around.
In contrast to the mammoth – and loud – installation downstairs at Basel Unlimited, Ai Weiwei’s contribution to Neugerriemschneider’s booth is a smallish sculptural work. Made of cast iron and auto paint, Iron Root depicts the lower part and roots of a tree, so emphasizing his ongoing study of the organic vs the manmade.
This could be seen as a running theme in the work – looking at natural topics such as sex, the body, nature and raw building materials, and rendering them totally contemporary through the use of vibrant colours, manmade materials and a modern sense of beauty.
Neugerriemschneider, Linienstraße 155, 10115 Berlin, Germany