Max Hetzler

Michel Majerus

28 Nov 2015 - 20 Jan 2016

Installation view
28 November 2015 – 30 January 2016

Galerie Max Hetzler is pleased to announce an exhibition of Michel Majerus (1967 - 2002). This is the artist's first solo presentation in Paris.

Although his creative period didn't last much more than a decade, Majerus produced an extremely impressive body of work which shows, in opposite directions, the way he moved constantly forward while letting the world move through him at the same time. Producing many different elements that can appear one after the other or randomly together in his paintings and installations, he represented a very wide course, quoting and mixing logos, texts, colours, advertising, games, as well as artists like Polke, Basquiat, Warhol and many others.

His versatile motion is already visible in theenlarge-o-ray... on! (1994) wall-installation that occupies a large space in the gallery, with it's wide wallpainting that seem to quote directly the graphic style of comic strips, only to be contradicted by the small version of a similar style, coming over it on a painted canvas and applying an almost opposite art gesture, underlined by the element of dialogue it contains, which reads: 'too big... Better switch off'. All that can revolve around an artist at a specific time, as Majerus perceived, is already visible here, just as his refusal to follow any locked down and clearly defined artistic personality.

The various, and sometimes opposite, layers of art are also present in the painting VOGUE deutsch 7/95 (1995), where Majerus uses a 1965 work by Georg Baselitz, of which a copy was published in Vogue. Here, the unstable definition of what 'art' means goes one step further, as the painting reproduces a publication which itself reproduces a painting, through a photograph, in a vertiginous perception of what depth really is.

Then come five paintings on canvas, representing different versions of Majerus' experimental approach of painting. One after the other, they put together a list of what went through his thoughts while considering art and its recent, abstract moments. They create a biography of his mind that exists in a parallel reality of what used to be an artist's unique and clearly identified creation, but become essentially the quote that a constant mobility chooses to mention at some given moment, as a choice rather than a submission.

Finally, the work from 2000,Untitled, brings all these opposite realities together. On a large canvas appear, one upon the other, geometric lines and letters from a distorted font or scribbled in black like a graffiti. Then the whole image is finally covered by a wide, abstract and contorted line that seems a reminder of American expressionism. But expressionism is not what matters here, as what could be a spontaneous gesture is actually made with a perfect, almost mechanical paint, properly surrounded by a thin, regular black line.

In all the works presented, the gallery follows Majerus while he pursues his own mobility through the ideas of graphic design, reproduction or abstraction, as encountered from the history of early 20th century art to the later examples of american expressionism. But unlike the stability expressed by history itself, what the artist underlines is a temporary choice, an exploration that comes from another origin - the observation of the past and of the present - and is already moving towards the next one. The hand gesture clearly visible on the white background as well as on the green strokes will meet the more mechanical, less visible ideas of cartoon and video images.

Pierre-Nicolas Bounakoff

Michel Majerus was born in Luxembourg in 1967 and died there in a plane crash in 2002. After studying at the Fine Arts Academy in Stuttgart under the direction of Joseph Kosuth, among others, he lived and worked in Berlin. His solo shows, include Michel Majerus at the Kunsthalle in Basel (1996), If we are dead, so it is at the Kölnischer Kunstverein in Köln (2000), as well as an important work, d'APERTutto for the Italian pavilion of the 48th Venice biennale (1999), and several retrospectives such as the one recently organized by the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart and the CAPC in Bordeaux (2011 – 2012).

Tags: Georg Baselitz, Joseph Kosuth, Michel Majerus, Andy Warhol