Mousse 73: Out Now. Cici Wu by Billy Tang; Anne Libby by Philipp Hindahl; Rodney McMillian by Jennifer Piejko; Hadi Fallahpisheh by Kristian Vistrup Madsen; ektor garcia by Jeppe Ugelvig; Mimosa Echard by Charles Aubin
Is figuration in contemporary art rising from the ashes once again? Even if former edicts on media’s or language’s death and resurrection have proven flawed due to art’s endemic ebbs and flows, recent exhibitions, market data, and literature show an arc of mounting interest in representational work consolidating after the end of Zombie Formalism in the mid-2010s. The following roundtable, gathering figures varyingly tangled in this phenomenon—gallerist Rózsa Farkas, curators Elise Lammer and Lydia Yee, and artists Megan Rooney and Katharina Wulff—aims to outline its features and underlying forces.
When I got on the phone with Caroline Bachmann to discuss 58 av. J.-C., the exhibition she opened at Kunsthaus Glarus, in March 2020, the first thing she told me was that she had just returned from a hike on the Napf, a mountain between Bern and Lucerne that, according to her, looks exactly like a skirt. After having successfully hiked through each pleat, she reached the top and could contemplate the entire Swiss alpine panorama. Describing herself as a very rational artist, it took me some time to realize that this anecdote is actually an excellent entry point to understand her approach to painting—namely, as a tireless quest to disentangle the medium while testing the semiotic potential of representation.
Are we really living in an Age of Darkness, as Lewis Hammond’s apocalyptically charged paintings suggest? The wider world remains locked out in his works; the cosmos depicted is reduced to narrow, safe retreats where bodies surrender to one another and indulge in tender, sometimes ambivalently violent intimacy.
With his lush, figurative scenes of gaggles of gay men hanging out in watering holes, outside brownstones, and on street corners with a drink in every hand, Salman Toor seems to channel romantic notions of urban living—of being alone in a crowd, one of many.