d’Urs Fischer — Schmutz schmutz


Installation, sculpture, mixed media

d’Urs Fischer
Schmutz schmutz

Past: April 5 → May 26, 2012

Gagosian Gallery Paris announces an exhibition of new sculpture by Urs Fischer.

Fischer’s uncanny ability to envisage and produce objects on the brink of falling apart or undergoing psychic transformation has resulted in sculptures in a bewildering variety of materials, including unstable substances such as melting wax and rotting vegetables. Continuously searching for new sculptural problems to which he can provide solutions (or other problems), he has built houses out of bread; enlivened empty space with mechanistic jokes; deconstructed objects and then replicated them; and transferred others from three dimensions to two and back again via photographic processes. Compacting the real with the mimetic, the thing with the view, he combines daring formal adventures in space, scale, and material with a mordant sense of humor.

In recent times, Fischer has been exploring the genres of classical art history (still life, portraiture, the nude, landscape) at the intersection with everyday life — in cast sculptures and assemblages, paintings, digital montages, spatial installations, and mutating or kinetic objects — to create an alternate reality that is as sculptural as it is artificial. The German term “Schmutz” means dirt. In Swiss German, Fischer’s native tongue, it also means “kiss”. Doubling the term creates a lewd image and an apt analogy for an exhibition that approaches the enduring ‘problems’ of sculpture with an almost adolescent sense of erotic humor whose flipside is pure melancholy.

Firstly Fischer works with the transformative potential of the cut, to diverse effect. A spindly penny farthing bicycle, slightly enlarged from life, has been sliced in two and splayed open, each half painted in an opposing pastel tone and balancing miraculously on its edge; a water bottle lying on its side, seems casually discarded were it not for the neat, perpendicular break at the neck, which also delineates the color shift from “ripe” to “unripe” tones of incongruous yellow; a scaled-down cello case has been separated into three unequal vertical slices and painted in a radial gradient that shifts subtly from black to white.

A grouping of nails, cast in bronze with a dimly reflective surface and measuring the height of an average man, leans against the wall. Their long shadows, also cast in bronze but disguised in a delicate coat of mauve paint, run down the wall and across the floor, giving material form to an atmospheric phenomenon. Thirdly, Fischer employs real fruit as the medium for quasi-scientific postulations on time, scale, and infinity: an apple and a pear hang together in front of a spotlight, demonstrating an eclipse; while a larger taxonomy of organic matter, graded from largest (pineapple) to smallest (grape) and individually strung up to form an even line in mid-air, alludes to a larger planetary system. The fact of the fruit’s perishability further compounds the complexity of these light-handed yet profound sculptural meditations on mysteries that are as vast as they are imponderable.

Urs Fischer was born in 1973 in Zurich, and studied at the Schule für Gestaltung, Zurich. His work is included in many important public and private collections worldwide. Recent major exhibitions include “Kir Royal,” Kunsthaus Zurich (2004); “Not My House Not My Fire,” Espace 315, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2004); “Mary Poppins,” Blaffer Gallery, Art Museum of the University of Houston, Houston, Texas (2006); “Marguerite de Ponty,” New Museum, New York (2009-10); and “ Oscar the Grouch,” The Brant Foundation, Greenwich, CT (2010-11) as well as the Biennale di Venezia in 2003, 2007, and 2011.

Fischer lives and works in New York City.

08 Paris 8 Zoom in 08 Paris 8 Zoom out

4, rue de Ponthieu

75008 Paris

T. 01 75 00 05 92 — F. 01 70 24 87 10


Champs-Élysées – Clemenceau
Franklin D.Roosevelt

Opening hours

Tuesday – Saturday, 11 AM – 7 PM

The artist

  • Urs Fischer