250711: Aargauer Kunsthaus Mai-Thu Perret / Christian Rothacher

Aargauer Kunsthaus Mai-Thu Perret / Christian Rothacher 14.05.11 – 31.o7.11 Mai Thu Perret meets Christian Rothacher in Aarau Up to the end of July, a special rendezvous is still waiting for your discovery in the Aargauer Kunsthaus: the "The Adding Machine" by the Geneva artist, Mai-Thu Perret, concurs with the retrospective of the Aarauer artist, Christian Rothacher. On first viewing, both exhibitions do not appear to have much in common; the exhibits exist in the abundance of their underlying citations and cross-references. Christian Rothacher (1944-2007) - one of the founders of the legendary artists' studio community in Ziegelrain in Aarau, which, from 1967 to 1975, was considered to be the pioneer of Swiss avant-garde - left a comprehensive oeuvre full of allusions, profound poetry and the highest technical perfection. The latter is demonstrated, for example, in the aquarelle of his many-layered plates of glass and his snow-covered patches of grass. Works by other Ziegelrain members, such as Heiner Kielholz, Hugo Suter, Max Matter and Markus Müller, can be found in the adjoining rooms and offer the possibility of seeing and evaluating Rothacher's work within the framework of its original context. In the 1970's, the proximity to Pop Art and Arte Povera in its early period is shown by what appear to be rare, surrealistic objects and bizarre drawings. When Rothacher quoted something, he availed himself of different alienation strategies but still retained the source of inspiration. Whether it's a wave captured in a clay plate by Hokusai, a blue-coloured blackboard with a sponge á la Yves Klein, a wayside cross made out of wooden rulers by C.D.Friedrich, or the reenactment of the Last Supper by Leonardo by means of simple desk lamps, again and again, Rothacher takes the risk of questioning the traditional stereotyped character of famous works in an ironic-critical way. In contrast to him, and whose works don't negate the origin of the citation but rather are to be understood as a type of reflecting genre-transgressing reference procedure, Mai-Thu Perret (b. 1976) strives to sample with her "Adding Machine" - she understands her strategy to be a "simultaneous desire for the known and that, which is to come". Beginning with her leitmotiv "How do you do something that you have never done before?” Perret removes all existing barriers in order to mix everything with everything. To this end, the interview with the artist in Art Bulletin (6/2011) is both revealing and sobering. The result, presented in Aarau, is a multi-discipline conglomeration, which presupposes a "wide cultural and history of art referencing system" from the observer that the artist herself apparently possesses. The guidance given by the exhibition notes don't help much either, because Perret's allusions brusque only superficially with alleged references and are based on an encyclopedic interest which, roughly put, lead from Hilma af Klint to William S. Burroghs and from Enzo Maris Autoprogettazione to the post-modern décor of a Robert Venturi or Aldo Rossi. Because each reference triggers another reference and the observers come up with yet more, the entire Perret merit system is subject to a strong arbitrariness. In one room, George Mathieus' fluid Rorschach painting meets that of the Lobster Telephone of Salvador Dali, in the next room, Claes Oldenburg's Walk-in Teapot meets Gerwald Rockenschaub's Neo-Geo painting. Naturally, pretty clay wall objects, "sculptural elements", are allowed to be projected onto a screen, and some decorative pieces of furniture, Op Art carpets and austere fluorescent lights which were apparently inspired by Piet Mondrian, are also present. The polyurethane foam copy of a jaguar from the meso-American Teotihuacán and a gilded Buddha form the bridge to the missing cultures, et violá: "The Adding Machine". Looked at singly, the statements and strengths of the works come into their own; in the succession of rooms, however, the progressive weaknesses of the whole concept become apparent. Admittedly, William S. Burroghs and Brion Gysin succeeded in re-arranging anew the principle of contingency with their re-mix technique of the "Cut-Up" assembly of pages of manuscript; but to declare this strategy as a principle in order to squeeze a few strong single works into an otherwise rather weak exhibition, doesn't suffice. Fortunately, there is a successful retrospective by Christian Rothacher on the ground floor. By Harald Krämer Aargauer Kunsthaus 5001 Aarau, Aargauerplatz Tel: +41 62 835 23 30 Fax: +41 62 835 23 29 http://www.aargauerkunsthaus.ch Opening hours: Tue – Sun 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Thu 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Aargauer Kunsthaus
5001 Aarau, Aargauerplatz
Tel: +41 62 835 23 30, Fax: +41 62 835 23 29
Öffnungszeiten: Di - So 10:00 - 17:00, Do 10:00 - 20:00

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