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Isa Genzken

20 October - 18 December



David Zwirner is pleased to present an exhibition of works by German artist Isa Genzken. On view at the gallery’s Hong Kong location, this will be the first solo presentation of Genzken’s work in Greater China. The show coincides with the ongoing presentation of the artist’s Rose II (2007) at K11 Musea, Hong Kong, and her solo exhibition Isa Genzken: Here and Now at the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Germany.

With a career spanning more than four decades, Genzken has incessantly probed the shifting boundaries between art, design, architecture, technology, and the individual. Her prodigious oeuvre frequently incorporates seemingly disparate materials and imagery to create complex, enigmatic works that range in media, including sculpture, painting, collage, drawing, film, and photography. Deeply attuned to both the legacies of the twentieth-century avant-garde and the materials and forms of twenty-first-century global society, Genzken’s work viscerally interrogates the impact of our increasingly commodified and interconnected culture on our everyday lives.

The exhibition will present key works from the past ten years of Genzken’s career. Among the selection on view will be an installation of Genzken’s recent “tower” and “column” sculptures. These works stem from the artist’s decades-long fascination with architecture and urban skylines. At once makeshift and
monumental, these architectonic forms consist of vertical structures of medium-density fiberboard adorned with mirror foil, spray paint, and other media, complicating the distinctions between surface and depth, and interior and exterior space. Engaging the architectural and sculptural histories of modernism, the towers and columns are physically imposing, yet the materials and their human scale allude to the inherent vulnerability of the modern built environment.

In addition, several freestanding floor sculptures will be on view that belong to Genzken’s Schauspieler (Actors) series, which debuted as part of her critically acclaimed retrospective organized by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 2013. The series, consisting of elaborately outfitted mannequins holding an array of props and accessories, signaled a notable shift in Genzken’s practice: with the mannequin functioning as the sculpture’s base, the artist employs a figurative idiom—making these works her most explicit engagement with the human form—in contrast to the abstract and geometric modes that characterized her earlier sculptures.

The exhibition will also feature wall-mounted works that expand upon the artist’s fascination with the relationship between architecture, art, commercial goods, and everyday experience. In these works, Genzken layers various industrially produced materials and commodities to which she adds a variety of photographs and imagery. Among those included in the show are two significant wall works from 2012 that are made up of wallpaper, mirrors, picture frames, and other common materials from modern domestic interiors. In one of these wall works, Genzken includes photographic reproductions of famous old master portrait paintings, including Albrecht Dürer’s Self-Portrait (1498; Museo del Prado, Madrid), which are placed on top of long pieces of wallpaper and wrapping paper that extend all the way to the floor. In the other work, Genzken has placed an image of the iconic German artist Joseph Beuys, who was a professor at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf where she studied.

Genzken’s most recent wall-mounted panels will also be included in the show. These works, done on aluminum panels, vary greatly in the density of their material embellishment. Some feature smears and pools of acrylic lacquer that rest loosely at times on the surface of the panel, while others are densely covered in photographs (many taken by Genzken herself), ephemera, and swatches of tape, foil, and fabric. Visually, Genzken’s wall works reference the material surfaces of the modern world, highlighting how mass media and postwar consumption have increasingly dissolved the lines between the private and the public, and the sacred and the profane.


Born in 1948 in Bad Oldesloe, Germany, Isa Genzken studied fine arts, art history, and philosophy in Hamburg, Berlin, and Cologne, before completing her studies at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in 1977. Since 2004, her work has been represented by David Zwirner. In 2019, she was the recipient of the Nasher Prize, awarded every April by the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas.

Genzken’s work has been the subject of many major museum exhibitions, including traveling surveys organized by the Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn, Germany (1988; traveled to Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Switzerland; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, both 1989); The Renaissance Society at The University of Chicago (1992; traveled to Portikus, Frankfurt; Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels; Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, all 1993); Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach, Germany (2002; traveled to Kunsthalle Zürich, 2003); and Whitechapel Gallery, London (2009; traveled to Museum Ludwig, Cologne). Other venues that have hosted important solo exhibitions include the Kunstverein Braunschweig, Germany (2000); Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2002); Camden Arts Centre, London (2006); Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck (2006); Secession, Vienna (2006); and Museion, Bolzano, Italy (2010).


20 October
18 December
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