On Appearing and Disappearing

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The Discovery of the Sardines, Placerita Canyon, Newhall, California (Diptych), 1971 2 Colour Photographs Each 65.5 X 54.9 Cm / 25 3/4 X 21 5/8 Inch © Courtesy The Artist and Bob van Orsouw Gallery, Zurich
On Appearing and Disappearing
Curated by: Gijs van Tuyl

Limmatstrasse 270
8005 Zurich
June 10th, 2012 - July 21st, 2012
Opening: June 10th, 2012 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM

0041 44 273 11 00
Tue–Fri 12am–6pm Sat 11am–5pm or by appointment


Galerie Bob van Orsouwʼs first exhibition in their renovated rooms at the Löwenbräu complex
is devoted to the Dutch artist Ger van Elk (*1941 in Amsterdam). The exhibition is curated by
Gijs van Tuyl, the longtime director of Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg as well as of Stedelijk
Museum Amsterdam. A representative selection of Ger van Elkʼs works from the 1970s will
be on show.
At the end of the 1960s and the early 1970s, Ger van Elk was an influential contributor to the
development of conceptual art in Europe (Holland and Italy) as well as in the U.S. (Los
Angeles). In contrast to the more dogmatic representatives of this movement, Ger van Elk
always kept his works open to the expression of highly personal emotions. In his sculptural
works in the context of arte povera, he allowed himself the imaginative liberty of deploying
the most varied of materials in unorthodox ways. After his assemblages, installations, film
and slide projections, Van Elk, as of 1970, concentrated on staged photographs that he then
often painted over. Along with artists like John Baldessari and Gilbert & George, Van Elk
was one of the pioneers of photography as pictorial art, often using himself as a model.
As is the case in the 1969 film Self-Portrait behind a Wooden Fence, where we see the artist
himself as he appears and disappears behind a fence that is simultaneously projected and
real. The tension between reality and imagination, between presence and absence, is one of
the leitmotifs behind Van Elkʼs oeuvre. This factor is also brought to bear in the exhibitionʼs
selection of works: from his early cinematic self-portrait to a single late work, Conclusie
ʻSanta Moritzʼ, ʻSwiss Landscapeʼ, a painted-over landscape photo from 2008.
Ger van Elkʼs works are inspired by an ongoing dualism, whether between reality and art,
between idea and emotion, surface and depth, presence and absence or between a meeting
and a farewell. This is likewise expressed by the choice and combination of quasi ʻopposingʼ
media, such as photography and painting. His artistic position is today especially significant
since it does not depict any idea of harmony, but formulates an artistic reality that indirectly
reflects the antitheses and the tensions in our society. By means of sketches and studies that
are being shown for the first time, this theme will be more profoundly presented in the
Very early on, Ger van Elk participated in trailblazing group exhibits: in 1969 When Attitudes
Becomes Form: Works – Concepts – Processes – Situations – Information at Kunsthalle
Bern (curated by Harald Szeemann) and Op Losse Schroeven: Situaties en Cryptostructuren
(On Loose Screws: Situations and Crypto-structures) at Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
(curated by Wim Beeren), as well as at documenta 5, 6 and 7 in Kassel from 1972 on. Ever
since, Ger van Elk in his long career has had many solo exhibitions devoted to him, such as
at Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Museum of Modern Art,
New York and at Kunsthalle Basel (curated by Jean-Christoph Ammann). Ger van Elk is
represented with significant works in internationally leading private and museum collections.