The exhibition brings together works by Umut Yasat, Flurin Bisig, and Habib Farajabadi – three highly divergent artists. Nevertheless, the artworks presented here share more than the fact that they are primarily abstract sculptures. They all have an aesthetic which invites the viewer to examine the surfaces and structural composition down to the smallest detail. Because the sculptures combine wood, metal, stone, paint, and repurposed objects, their materiality is not obscured. On the contrary, it is emphasized as a distinct characteristic that draws the viewer in. This accounts for the unusual presence they exert in the room in relation to the viewer, acting as a counterweight to her or his movements. Indeed, all in all, there is a strangely human aura to Yasat, Bisig, and Farajabadi’s sculptures that arises through their interaction with the viewer – and with each other.
The substantial collection of material in Umut Yasat’s Der Stapel (The Stack) compels viewers to get up close. Since 2014 the artist has been stacking and binding together his work, mail, photos, and everyday objects – both meaningful and trivial – to form permanently fixed entities which he mounts on wheels once they have reached approximately his own height. In this way they recollect the Readymade or objet trouvé. But in this case, Yasat bundles several objects at once, until their original function is no longer recognizable, piling them in a column fastened by straps and tape. These inseparable bundles of renounced possessions quickly arouse a curiosity which cannot be satisfied – what are the individual parts that make the whole? They remain mere vestiges of a personality that cannot be decrypted. In light of the project’s ongoing continuation, Der Stapel 5 and 7, exhibited here, are fragments of a larger art piece, which has long since become a life’s work. It is the result of an artistic search for a way to visualize time. Yasat chronicles his own life in sculptural form. His personal development, experienced over the course of the project, becomes manifest in a series of man-high objects. But Der Stapel goes one step further: as a document of the times made from everyday objects, the project illuminates the ways in which the personal and the universal are intertwined.
Habib Farajabadi’s works are also personal, but in a different way. They are characterized by the artist’s chaotic use of paint: Farajabadi brushes, smears, sprays, squeezes it out of the tube, letting his movements be led equally by his intentions and subconscious mind. Despite his energetic painting style, Farajabadi demonstrates a high awareness of the effect he produces on the ground and material in his work. The wooden sculptures exhibited here bear traces of a rough-hewn handling and assembly; the effect is intensified by the application of paint. As if full of flaws, the surfaces lend his work an approachable, appealing exterior that only heightens the impression of a personal encounter with these two-legged abstract forms with outcrops resembling heads. The self-taught Iranian artist has developed a style and formal language of his own which cannot be definitively classified in any art-historical tradition. It exhibits both Western and Eastern influences. Drawing on his own experiences, the artist is driven by an obsession to always cover new ground in his work and refine his art. In a continuous process of experimentation, Farajabadi uses simple formal tools to create impressive abstractions, which ultimately also bring to the fore his Persian identity in a time of cultural change in Iran.
In his work Swiss artist Flurin Bisig explores, above all, the power of sculpture. By continually questioning how the medium is characterized and defined, he finds impetus for his reflections everywhere in everyday life – from the entangled legs of a couple, to a room marked by the commanding posture of a waitress. The work Viva Lost Blues is characterized by this desire to experiment, as are other expressive individual pieces, which at the same time form a unity that clearly originates from the same aesthetic cosmos. Beginning with drawings, the work process involved is slower and more concrete, due to the sculptor’s choice of traditional materials. By this means, they evoke classical sculpture and thus at the same time reanimate the past – or rather, propel it forward. Furthermore, Bisig succeeds in skillfully controlling or even inverting the expected visual effect of his materials. For instance, a piece of tape placed on the edge of a plaster figure appears to hold the solid body together – as if it were a delicate eggshell – thus giving it such an air of instability that viewers approach it gingerly. In addition to his sculptural practice, for over ten years Bisig has been creating works on paper, which he numbers consecutively. Inspired by Robert Morris’s Blind Drawings and operating under a set of rules, drawings 259–269 (wir körper 1zu4/us bodies 1to4) form a series in its own right.
In addition to displaying a strong intuition for their materials, Bisig, Farajabadi, and Yasat all share what could be described as a pragmatic or experimental approach to the exhibited work: Yasat parts with things unreservedly in order to present them to us in new configurations; Farajabadi is able to create an inexhaustible and cross-cultural formal vocabulary using simple materials; and lastly Bisig explores the medium of sculpture and creates a virtually endless series of works on paper that he submits to various rules. In this manner, the sculptures by all three artists make viewers aware of their structure, compelling them to take a closer look.
by Klara Niemann
Flurin Bisig works mainly with sculptures, conceptually derived from a fundamental drawing basis. In these sculptures, Bisig dialogues with classic exemplars of the genre by working with traditional materials such as marble; then, he skillfully molds his working matter rendering them abstract. In addition to his sculptural practice, Bisig also composes drawings and collages, not only a complement to his sculptures, but a part of the same artistic process, establishing a kind of connection, open for the viewer to interpret. After his education at the Hochschule für Kunst in Luzern and the Universität der Künste in Berlin, Bisig lived in Brussels. He has been awarded different scholarships and prizes, while also participating in international artistic residences. Bisig’s work has been shown internationally, in Switzerland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, the USA, and Brazil. Flurin Bisig was born in 1982, and he currently lives and works in Glarus, Switzerland.
Habib Farajabadi uses all sorts of tools to compose his acrylics; things such as nails, wood stock, forks and hair brush, without ever dispensing the regular paint brush. Now and then, these marks suggest something like hieroglyphic signs, ancient calligraphies, letters of a non-existing alphabet. Farajabadi works on both sides of the canvas, even if much of the surface is left raw and visible. Where there is a conscious choice of using color, he’s not economical: the artist often prefers bright, strident tones. His acrylic brushstrokes remind, in their texture and ludic colors, childish chalk; either that or the canvas is taken by a dark atmosphere. The color black is always present; sometimes as dominating hue, others supporting a colorful composition—something even more present in the rawness of his drawings. Also a sculptor, Farajabadi works mainly with wood and plywood, on which additional elements are incorporated, creating sometimes a contrast between the colorful bodies of his pieces and its menacing heads. Habib Farajabadi was born in 1982 in Iran and he lives and works in Tehran.
Umut Yasat’s name is linked to his main project, an ongoing work-in-progress known as ‘Der Stapel,’ which he started in 2014. A development of ideas concerning time and progress, mortality and banality, ‘Der Stapel’ first came into being when Yasat was finishing his studies at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Karlsruhe, his hometown, were he was born in 1988. There, he had classes with Gustav Kluge, Jonas Burgert and Marcel van Eeden. Formally, ‘Der Stapel’ are configured by the agglomeration of materials that somehow become part of the artist’s life: trivia and meaningful objects are compressed until they reach the artist’s height, configuring a way to visualize time — Yasat’s and our own, given the presence of everyday objects that populate our world. He was born in 1988 and he is currently based in Berlin.