Marc Jancou Gallery Contemporary

The Art of Looking Sideways

Stéphane Kropf
September 10 - October 25, 2014
New York
Installation View
image 1
image 2
image 3
image 4
image 5
image 6
image 7
Selected Works
image 1

STÉPHANE KROPF

SITUATED KNOWLEDGE (KEELHAULING), 2014

Acrylic on canvas

70.875 x 51.125 inches

180 x 130 cm

image 2

STÉPHANE KROPF

SITUATED KNOWLEDGE (SEMAPHORE), 2014

Acrylic on canvas

70.875 x 51.125 inches

180 x 130 cm

image 3

STÉPHANE KROPF

SITUATED KNOWLEDGE (BULL'S EYE), 2014

Acrylic on canvas

94.5 x 70.875 inches

240 x 180 cm

image 4

STÉPHANE KROPF

SITUATED KNOWLEDGE (BULL'S EYE) [detail], 2014 

Acrylic on canvas

94.5 x 70.875 inches

240 x 180 cm

image 5

STÉPHANE KROPF

SITUATED KNOWLEDGE (FIDDLER'S GREEN), 2014

Acrylic on canvas

94.5 x 70.875 inches

240 x 180 cm

image 6

STÉPHANE KROPF

SITUATED KNOWLEDGE (FIDDLER'S GREEN) [detail], 2014

Acrylic on canvas

94.5 x 70.875 inches

240 x 180 cm

image 7

STÉPHANE KROPF

SITUATED KNOWLEDGE (MONKEY'S BLOOD), 2014

Acrylic on canvas

70.875 x 51.125 inches

180 x 130 cm

image 8

STÉPHANE KROPF

SITUATED KNOWLEDGE (ANTEPODEAN DAY), 2014

Acrylic on canvas

70.875 x 51.125 inches

180 x 130 cm

image 9

STÉPHANE KROPF

SITUATED KNOWLEDGE (BOATSWAIN'S PIPE), 2014

Acrylic on canvas

70.875 x 51.125 inches

180 x 130 cm

image 10

STÉPHANE KROPF

SITUATED KNOWLEDGE (BOATSWAIN'S PIPE) [detail], 2014

Acrylic on canvas

70.875 x 51.125 inches

180 x 130 cm

image 11

STÉPHANE KROPF

SITUATED KNOWLEDGE (ST. ELMO'S FIRE), 2014

Acrylic on canvas

94.5 x 70.875 inches

240 X 180 cm

image 12

STÉPHANE KROPF

SITUATED KNOWLEDGE (BOATSWAIN'S PIPE) [detail], 2014

Acrylic on canvas

70.875 x 51.125 inches

180 x 130 cm

image 13

STÉPHANE KROPF

DUDE INCREDIBLE V (DOBBIN), 2014

Acrylic on canvas

14 x 11 inches

36 x 28 cm

image 14

STÉPHANE KROPF

DUDE INCREDIBLE IV (DOBBIN), 2014

Acrylic on canvas

14 x 11 inches

36 x 28 cm

Press Release

(Pour le français s'il vous plaît voir ci-dessous)

 

Marc Jancou is pleased to announce Stéphane Kropf: The Art of Looking Sideways, the Swiss artist's first solo exhibition in the United States.

 

Stéphane Kropf is known for his large-format, abstract canvases that investigate the pure sensuality of painting.  His newest works will be a continuation of his “Situated Knowledge” series. In this body of work, Kropf employs interference paint, which is capable of reflecting both an individual color and its complementary hue, depending on the setting and the spectator’s position.  This highly technical pigment has no inherent color of its own, and as Kropf notes, looking at one of his paintings from the side “is almost like seeing an unprimed canvas.”  The assertion that a work of art is defined by its context and the perspective of its viewer—a legacy of conceptual art—is integral to Kropf’s work; it also addresses the cultural practices surrounding how a painting is produced, exhibited, and photographed.  Kropf’s work stubbornly resists photography: it is nearly impossible to communicate its appearance on film. 

 

The series title “Situated Knowledge” is derived from an essay by the American feminist scientist Donna Haraway, who tries to define a specifically feminist scientific perspective, and notes that the human brain privileges sight above all other senses, lending a sense of validation to any facts that can be perceived by sight.  However, the appearance and meaning of Kropf’s paintings is entirely dependent on factors outside of his control: conditions of ambient light, time of day, and the viewer’s movement and “situated” point of view.  This deliberate openness to chance and context is in the spirit of minimalist works like Robert Morris’s Mirror Cubes.  Yet despite his many references to the history of art, Kropf also spreads his paint “like pastry” with an unassuming delight in the richness of his material.  He emphasizes the pliable nature of the paint, spreading it across the canvas in a thick impasto of dynamic, ethereal scrolls.  With their large scale, visual transformations, and conceptual foundation, Kropf’s paintings engage and challenge the viewer intellectually, physically and optically.  

 

Born in 1979 in Lausanne, Switzerland, Stéphane Kropf studied at the Ecole Cantonal d'Art de Lausanne, where he is currently Head of the Department of Visual Arts. His work has been exhibited at Musée d'art moderne et contemporain (MAMCO), Geneva; Galerie Am Lindenplatz, Vaduz; The Bathroom, Lyon; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; and the Fondation d'Entreprise Ricard, Paris. Upcoming solo exhibitions includeDouble Crème, Château de Gruyères, in September, 2014; and a yet-to-be-titled exhibition at Galerie Andrea Caratsch, Zurich, in December 2014.

 

--------------------

 

Lionel Bovier, Independent Curator and Head of Books at JRP-Ringier, has contributed the following text to the exhibition (English translation below):

 

The Art of Looking Sideways

 

Stéphane Kropf réalise depuis plusieurs années ce qu’il est convenu d’appeler des « peintures abstraites » (ou, dans son acception helvétique, des peintures « concrètes »). Jeux optiques, couleurs décoratives, motifs appropriés sont quelques unes des voies qu’il a empruntées, croisant ainsi les pratiques d’artistes tels que John Armleder, Rudolf Stingel ou Francis Baudevin.

 

Les commentateurs de son travail n’ont pas manqué de pointer qu’il « connaît son rayon en peinture », en apprécie les matières et les effets, et poursuit, en quelque sorte, une tradition vernaculaire. C’est aussi ce que je pensais, avant de découvrir les premières œuvres de la série « Situated Knowledge », utilisant des peintures interférentes – dont la patente décrit les propriétés techniques ainsi : inclusion de plaquettes hautement chromatiques dans un médium afin d’obtenir une réponse optique pré-déterminée aussi bien qu’une incidence de rayonnement sur la surface.

 

Est-ce une rencontre imprévue avec ces substances picturales qui l’a mené à sa nouvelle série d’œuvres ? Est-ce par un principe de réduction « moderniste », dont les toiles récentes marqueraient une étape de dissolution de la forme et de retrait de la couleur ? Ou, comme le titre de la série, qui renvoie à l’auteur du « Cyborg Manifesto » Donna Haraway, le laisse entendre, à une critique de la primauté du visuel? Peu importe l’archéologie de cette « invention » – ce qu’il nous donne à voir suffit.

 

Les tableaux sont à échelle humaine et verticaux (180 x 130 cm ou  240 x 180 cm) ; ils sont modelés avec cette pâte transparente qui semble n’avoir aucune couleur propre, mais les « accrocher » toutes – ainsi changent-ils complètement selon le point de vue du spectateur et la lumière. Ces toiles sont à proprement parler relationnelles – à notre position, au rayonnement lumineux, à leur accrochage dans l’espace. En cela, elles ne sont pas moins que l’actualisation – serait-ce pour des motifs ironiques – d’un idéal moderniste : ici, le regardeur fait véritablement le tableau et ce que nous voyons est fondamentalement lié au contexte de notre vision.

 

Tels des Monet à l’âge de l’art optique, ces tableaux ont une présence particulière: tandis que se manifeste un « défaut d’être » à travers leurs métamorphoses, l’observation de leur surface, au contraire, atteste d’un travail dynamique de la pâte. Et ce n’est pas l’une des moindres de leur qualité que de tenir ensemble ces éléments paradoxaux : un impasto manifeste et une présence diffuse, une expressivité sans objet autre que constructif et une « théâtralité assumée » aurait pu dire Michael Fried.

 

Les références aux théories modernistes affleurent de toute part dans cette série ; on ne peut s’empêcher de penser que c’est volontaire, que c’est une forme de convocation en surnombre. On pense ainsi à la limite que posait Greenberg à la peinture moderne en affirmant qu’une toile non-peinte ne serait certainement pas une bonne peinture. Qu’aurait-il dit d’une toile surpeinte dont la forme et la couleur seraient en état de flux ? Pour ma part, la réponse fut immédiate et claire : ce sont d’excellentes peintures, dont la séduction principale est de refuser que notre regard puisse s’en satisfaire.

 

 

Lionel Bovier

Septembre 2014

 

 

The Art of Looking Sideways

 

For several years, Stéphane Kropf has been creating paintings that can be characterized as “abstract” (or “concrete” in the Helvetic sense). Optical games, decorative colors, and appropriated motifs are some of the techniques he has engaged, inspired by the practices of artists such as John Armleder, Rudolf Stingel or Francois Baudevin.

 

Reviewers of his work have not failed to point out that he understands the principles of light in painting, appreciates the materials and their effects, and pursues a distinctly vernacular tradition. I had these thoughts in mind before discovering the first of the “Situated Knowledge” series.  The body of work employs interference paints – whose patent describes the technical characteristics as the inclusion of small, highly chromatic plates in a medium, in order to obtain a predetermined optical response and a highly reflective surface.

 

Is it an unforeseen encounter with these pictorial substances that has led him to his new series of works? Is it a principle of “modernist” reduction, with the recent canvases marking a stage of dissolution and of retreat from color? Or, as the title of the series suggests in its reference to Donna Haraway, author of the “Cyborg Manifesto,” is it a critique of the primacy of the visual? Ultimately, the answer is of no concern: the archeology of the “invention” he offers is enough.

 

The canvases are human in scale and vertical (180-130 cm or 240x180 cm); they are modeled with a transparent paste which does not have its own pigment, but instead serves to reflect every color – so that they change completely according to the point of view of the spectator and the light. These canvases are, properly speaking, relational – towards our position, the reflection and character of light, and the space they occupy.  For this reason they may be nothing less than the actualization – albeit for ironic reasons – of a post-modernist ideal: here the spectator really makes the painting and what we see is fundamentally linked to the context of our own vision.

 

Like a work by Monet in the age of optical art, these paintings have a distinct presence: on one hand there is a manifestation of a “default existence” through their optical metamorphoses.  On the other hand, the observation of their surface demonstrates, to the contrary, a dynamic working of the paint.  One of their most significant qualities is their ability to bring together these paradoxical elements: an evident impasto and a diffused presence, an expressivity with a constructive objective and what Michael Fried would have called and assumed theatric.   

 

The references to the modernist theories emerge from all sides in this series: one cannot avoid the thought that this is intentional, that this is a form of convocation in redundancy. One can think also of the limit Greenberg had set for modern painting, affirming that an unpainted canvas would certainly not be a good painting. What would he have said about an overpainted canvas, whose shape and colors would be fluid? From my perspective the answer has been clear and immediate: these are excellent paintings, whose main seduction is a refusal to satisfy our gaze.

 

Lionel Bovier

September, 2014

News

Stéphane Kropf's work included in "Réelles Distorsions" at Paris Xippas Gallery

February 28, 2015

Stéphane Kropf at Half Gallery

January 06, 2015

Stéphane Kropf at Galerie Andrea Caratsch

December 09, 2014

Review of Stéphane Kropf's Work in Kunstbulletin

September 10, 2014

Stéphane Kropf: Créme Double at Château de Gruyères

September 05, 2014