Ori Gersht and Alexander Tovborg solo exhibitions

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Ori Gersht – Still And Forever and Alexander Tovborg – Giverny

March 1 – April 4, 2012

Brand New Gallery - Via Farini 32, Milan

Brand New Gallery presented Still and Forever, the first solo exhibition in Italy by the Israeli artist, Ori Gersht and Giverny, the first solo exhibition in Italy by the young Danish artist, Alexander Tovborg.

Through the creation of sublime scenarios that become precipitously unsettling as they gradually decay, the works of Ori Gersht capture prolonged moments of suspense with stop-motion photography and slow-motion video. Recreating the compositions of Old Master paintings, the artist offers a meditation on life, loss, destiny and chance, stopping the constructed moment in time and space in order to make it perceptible in a clear and precise way.

In the series Blow Up, which takes its name from the film- it was not taken from Antonioni, although it is related by Michelangelo Antonioni, the floral composition recalls the colors of the French flag and refers to the work of Henri Fantin-Latour. Gersht accelerates the disappearance of the still life by literally blowing it up, using a technique whereby the flowers are frozen, then shattered by a violent explosion. The action is captured quite vividly with high-resolution camera (1/7,500th of a second): the images are at once fascinating and disturbing, evoking the dichotomy between chaos and serenity, epitomizing in the random acts of violence not only of European history but that of his native country as well. The same procedure is used in the film entitled Big Bang, where fragments of petals, stems and pot shards scatter through the room and fall in slow motion to the floor. In Pomegranate the composition related to a 17th-century still life by the Spanish painter Juan Sànchez Cotan, attraversed this time by a bullet that appears to perforate the frame and pulverize the suspended fruit. Gersht deliberately creates tensions between the old masters and new technologies in a moment of union and simultaneous destruction; of opposites which, for a fraction of a second, merge into one. In Falling Bird, based on a still life by Jean Baptiste Siméon Chardin, a pheasant is hang lifelessly by their feet, reflected in a mirror of dark water below, toward which they impotently fall, consumed by their own reflection.

Also on display in the Milan exhibition are several works from the series Chasing Good Fortune, realized in Japan during cherry blossom season. In this works, the artist explores the symbolism of this flower, historically a metaphorically. While initially associated with Buddhist concepts of renewal, the celebration of life, and good fortune, the cherry blossom was re-appropriated during Japan’s 19th century militarization and colonial expansion. Once celebrated as a healthy and abundant flower, the falling of the petals from the tree became the symbol of Kamikaze soldiers. In this work, Gersht captures the essence of this emblematic flower in a sinister, post-atomic world: the artist’s interest in traveling to Hiroshima was in fact divided equally between the lost innocence of the cherry tree and the strength that enables it to continue to blossom in contaminated soil.

More than a critical commentary on violence, Gersht’s depicts the absurdity that surrounds us, whereby bloody wars are fought in one place while people enjoy a comfortably decadent lifestyle in another: opposite yet parallel existences that sometimes intersect, in the same way that beauty and destruction coexist in his art.

Sophisticated narratives embedded within a fervid and oftentimes metaphysical imaginarium, Alexander Tovborg’s work straddles abstraction and figuration, drawing its power from a miscellany of foreign cultures, literary stimuli and religious spirituality. It is layered and complex, in some ways mystical, and takes form through visual experiments whose content and concept investigate and challenge artistic, historical and religious traditions while at the same time playing with the viewer’s imagination.

Confidently deploying a range of media, from drawing to painting, the artist constructs a fictional erotic narrative for Giverny, set in the famous garden of Claude Monet. The Milan exhibition also features a series entitled Tourist, in which Tovborg situates archetypal and symbolic figures that function as points of interaction between an erotic/artistic reading of the Kama Sutra and the biblical story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Tovborg expresses himself through intense and colorful storytelling, elegantly Scandinavian and folkloristic in its representation, meditative in the poetic geometry of its settings. While always acute and full of life, his work sometimes negates color, censors it, resulting in intimate spaces that inspire silence and contemplation. These spiritual spaces constantly evoke the religious theme so important to the artist, insofar as it is the ideal position from which to observe man’s devotion in an intensely private dimension.

Image above: Ori Gersht - Untitled, 2006 (Time After Time series), LVT print, cm 40 x 30

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Ori Gersht

Big Bang, 2006

digital video, color, sound

4,23 min

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Ori Gersht

Untitled, 2007 (Blow Up series)

light jet print

180 x 240 cm

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Ori Gersht

Drown, 2008 (Falling Bird Stills series)

light jet print

100 x 80 cm

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Ori Gersht

Untitled, 2008 (Falling Bird Stills series)

light jet print

40 x 30 cm

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Alexander Tovborg

Tourist (by the mansion), 2011

Acrylic on textile

60 x 50 cm

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Alexander Tovborg

Tourist (by the waterlillies), 2011

Acryic and paper on canvas

150 x 140 cm

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Alexander Tovborg

Tourist (in the garden lake), 2011

Acrylic varnish and handmadepaper on canvas

2 x 2 m