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Markus Hansen, Unstable paintings for a controlled environment

Virgil de Voldere Gallery
526 West 26th Street, 4th Floor, 212-343-9694
February 26 - April 4, 2009
Reception: Thursday, February 26, 6 - 8 PM
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Virgil de Voldère is proud to present our third solo exhibition of work by the German-born, Paris-based artist Markus Hansen, his first at the gallery in three years.

Hansen works in multiple genres-printmaking, photography, film, video, performance, sculpture, and installation-yet consistent themes continually surface. One trait is simultaneously layering on and peeling back meaning: material on material, for instance, or history on images. Another theme is visibility and repression, in which Hansen investigates tainted cultural ideas and their troublesome representations and expands on his personal fascinations with taboos and history, and with memory and experience.

The six images in the exhibition were first prepared digitally, as montages worked in Photoshop and then drawn on paper with gouache, before screenprinting them with transparent ink onto unprimed canvases. Hansen then blows a luminescent powdered pigment across the surface of the wet ink, resulting in a mute beige-yellow surface. Barely perceptible in the light, the images become recognizable as the gallery darkens, the works glowing a soft blue. A nod to institutional critique, Hansen’s attention to the display of art not only foregrounds the exhibition space’s supposed neutral container but it also, importantly, brings the space into the integral service of the meaning of his work.

Hansen’s imagery is carefully chosen. In one work, a hochsitz, a raised, covered structure used for observing or hunting animals, in a crowded forest connotes a military lookout post, and in another a double eagle that ornately decorates a mirror offers a reflection on historical German symbolism. Stormy cloudscapes and distant castles on craggy hills draw attention to sublime experiences and their historical baggage.

An an alchemist, Hansen doesn’t turn base matter into gold but rather transforms experiences, from the culture of his national and personal heritage to that of the art world-the artist has borrowed imagery from Albrect Dürer, used photographs from his grandmother’s home, and once stacked used champagne flutes from a private art opening into a glowing floor-based chandelier-to create new thoughts and to shake established preconceptions.
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