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April 19 2009 1 19 /04 /April /2009 16:26

The David Zwirner Gallery offers until May 9 to the artist Adel Abdessemed his three spaces to display his last works from the past two years under the name of RIO (in English, ‘River’) : Massive sculptures, videos, photographs, drawings and other original and engaged propositions lead us to a subjective encounter with the artist.

Because this exhibition is located in three different places, (519 W 19th st., 525 W 19th st., 533 W 19th st.), the viewer will travel freely through a maze like environment and meet the pieces following his own choice of direction. For once, an artist gives the spectator some confidence. The number of works with different topics is quite high, but we really feel an aim to render intimate convictions. We will here evoke some works that blew us away by the accuracy of the purpose and ingenuity of the medium used.

The first work we discovered is a face to face to “Telle mère, tel Fils” (‘like mother like son’) sixty five feet long braid of three airplanes, made of their original cockpits and tailfins, while the fuselages are reconstructed in soft felt filled with air. Beside the strong evocation of terrorism, through the vision of distorted airplanes; the title, which recalls the adage “like father, like son” but breaks the genders frontiers by linking the mother with the son, would symbolize the interweaving of the generations, whether it would be male or female. Adel Abdessemed is born in Algeria; there, the separation between genders is strict and firm, thus he affirms a strong emancipation from this tradition. Also,  the artist gives here a tender sign to his mother.

Childhood is also expressed with the "Music Boxe" (2009), a sculpture made of recycled material such as a bicycle and a steel oil barrel, which looks like a barrel organ, and displays the music of the Wagner, the Valkyrie. The contrast is total: the barrel organ evokes the sweet oldies music of our childhood we were listening to with our parents, a candy in hand; but the music of the Valkyrie, which embodies so clearly the expression of war and anger, activates then a link between childhood and War.

An other expression of anger is a black terra cotta sculpture featuring a life size burned car , lying on its side, in a sort of precarious balance. “The car had been burned, that is to say physically, stained by gas. I find fascinating the alchemy that takes place between metal, plastic, petroleum, and gasoline, all these materials that come from the earth, of which the piece is the crystallization in clay.” Said the artist in 2008.  The title, “Practice Zero Tolerance (retournée)”, refers to the new politic lead by the actual president of France who claimed no Tolerance to any act that would violate the law. One of the consequences of the politic was the riots in October 2005, where many cars where burned: a strong rebellion from a forgotten part of the society, the new generation of French issued from the immigration that were aimed at by this new politic. This black car, like it was burned one day ago and close to fall on the ground, reminds us that those people are still here, suffering from racism and discrimination, still angry…

As the artist occupies three spaces in the gallery, a lot of high quality and profound works are showcased expressing in genuine and ingenious ways many ideas such as the intimacy of an immigrant, the violent nature of both men and life…we were amazed by this strong political idea of asking to three prostitute to handwrite pages of the Bible, the Torah and the Koran. We stayed mesmerized by the film “Usine”, in which we see fight predatory surviving or destroying their close environment (three others videos are displayed, Enter the circle and Les ailes de Dieu (the wings of God).  In brief, we could only recommend to discover this fresh new New-Yorker (he moved in 2008) artist, for the first time presented in America.

Born in 1971 in Constantine, Algeria, Adel Abdessemed attended the École des Beaux-Arts d’Alger and the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Lyon. He currently lives and works in New York. In 2008, MIT List Visual Arts Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts hosted a solo exhibition of his work, organized by Jane Farver and accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue with essays by Farver, Tom McDonough, and Pier Luigi Tazzi, and an interview with Noam Chomsky. Abdessemed recently has been the focus of solo exhibitions at Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin, Italy (2009), Le Magasin - Centre National d’Art Contemporain, Grenoble, France (2008), and P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (2007). He recently was included in the 7th Gwangju Biennial, Gwangju, Korea (2008) and the 52nd Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2007). His work is in the collections of Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; Fondation François Pinault, Venice, Italy; Fonds régional d’art contemporain Champagne-Ardenne, Reims, France; Fonds régional d’art contemporain des Pays de la Loire, Carquefou, France; Fundación Montenmedio Arte Contemporáneo, Vejer de la Frontera, Spain; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel; Musée d’art moderne et contemporain, Geneva, Switzerland; Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France.

[Visual: above : Adel Abdessemed, Telle mère tel fils, 2008, Airplanes, felt, aluminum, metal ,Image Size: 27 x 4 x 5 meters / 88.6 x 13.12 x 16.4 feet. Courtesy David Zwirner Gallery. Below, Adel Abdessemed, Prostitute, 2008, two manuscripts of the Koran, three manuscripts of the Bible, three manuscripts of the Torah 3 plexiglass boxes inside paper shopping bags Image Size: Manuscripts are 11.81 x 8.46 inches Paper bags: One is 12 2/4 x 1 x 6 inches. Two are 13 3/8 x 16 3/8 x 6 inches each.Courtesy David Zwirner Gallery]

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