Colliding Alien Cargo takes its title from a snippet of conversation between the art historian Werner Hoffman and a grandmaster of titles himself, Werner Büttner. The exhibition is intended initiate its own dialogue between the German artist and five painters for whom he has been an inspiration or with whom he shares a kinship of approach. Most recognizably, there is the coexistence of a determined crudity with elegance and intelligence—in line, paint-handling and subject. Conventions of painting are honored and flouted, contorted and reconfigured at a whim, but with real conviction and point of view.
More deeply felt, is a quality of courage and self-determination. This enables the invention of expanded languages (both written and visual) and the tackling of eyebrow-raising subject matter with often surprising effects. Humor, pathos and a recurrent commitment to language both as a driving force and formal device are all engaged here. For Büttner and his compatriots Albert Oehlen and Martin Kippenberger, the goal was nothing short of reordering the art world, and the work of these younger artists indicates that this has, in many ways, come to pass. Their endeavors have enabled what Büttner calls a “desert of freedom”—a liberation which comes with great responsibility.
These artists gathered here follow Büttner’s advice:
Don’t be half-hearted!
Be nothing but productively hybrid!
Ruminate away from the herds and hordes!
Featured artists include:
Werner Büttner, David Chieppo, Nicole Eisenman, Bendix Harms, Tala Madani, and Michael Williams