John Baldessari
Raised Eyebrows/Furrowed Foreheads Part III

May 13 - July 25, 2009
Go to artist page

Press Release

Greta Meert Gallery has great pleasure in presenting seven pieces from the latest series by the American artist John Baldessari (1931, National City, lives and works in Santa Monica, California). This is John Baldessari’s sixth solo exhibition in Greta Meert Gallery.

« Raised Eyebrows / Furrowed Foreheads » is the direct continuation of the previous series in which the artist associated fragmented body parts with coloured planes, three-dimensional forms, and language. Under the titles «Noses & Ears, Etc », « Arms and Legs (Specif. Elbows and Knees), Etc », and « Prima Facie, Etc », these series dealt with the specific issues that have constantly been featured in his work: the relationship between the separate parts and the whole – what to leave out and what to leave in – and the introduction of a hybrid visual language that strives to multiply interpretations through changes, cuts, omissions and shifts of meaning.

The ‘ Prima Facie » series (the fourth series of which was shown in Greta Meert Gallery in 2005) initially consisted in associating the expression of an actor with the word that emerges at the first impression. The faces, from stills from the film archives collected and recycled by the artist, are reframed in close-up, which break off any connection with the context of the scene.

« Raised Eyebrows / Furrowed Foreheads  » again uses one single expression and features it throughout the series. With a considerable degree of humour the artist refers to the uncertain interpretation – at once surprise or dismay, anger or scepticism – and seems to tell us: ‘ Aren’t we all worried? – These works may well be a description of this condition ».

Faced with the anxiety caused by the of media images that show us a world that is unremittingly rushing towards disaster the artist offers resistance. Multiplying the planes of an image by editing, giving physical consistency to the image with masking paint, taking the image to the borderline between fiction and reality….

all moves that aim at alienating the viewer’s submission to the image.

Today John Baldessari’s work enjoys unanimous praise.

From the photo-text paintings in the 60s, the conceptual works and the video art in the 70s, to the « found images » of the 80s, John Baldessari has brought into being a language that is all his own. He is one of the artists that moved the centre of gravity from New York in the 60-70s to Los Angeles. His influence, not only as an artist, but also a teacher, has been considerable.

Over the last years his work has been shown in numerous exhibitions, including a retrospective show in two parts « Works 1962-1984 » in the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna (2005), and « Works 1984-2005 » in the Kunsthaus Graz am Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz. Other one-person exhibitions have been held in the Carré d’Art Musée Contemporain in Nîmes (2005-2006), in the Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin (2004), in the Museo d’Arte Moderna Contemporanea de Trento e Rovereto, Trento (2000-2001), in the Sprengel Museum, Hannover (1999-2000), in the Albertina im Adademiehof, Vienna (1999).

In 2008 he received the B.A.C.A award, during his exhibition in the Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht.

Currently « John Baldessari : Brick Bldg, Lg Windows w/ Xlent Views, Partially Furnished, Renowned Architect » is shown in the Museum Haus Lange in Krefeld (until 1 June). In October 2009 a retrospective show will open in the Tate Modern, London, which will subsequently travel to the MACBA in Barcelona, the LACMA in Los Angeles and finally the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (until 2011). A catalogue is to be published.

During the next Biennial in Venice he will be awarded, the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, together with Yoko Ono.