Andy Hope 1930
Galerie Guido W. Baudach is pleased to present 0,10 and a half by Andy Hope 1930 in the context of Gallery Weekend 2011. This is the artist’s fifth solo-exhibition with us and is taking place at the gallery spaces in Wedding and Charlottenburg. The exhibition moves between the half and the whole, dealing with cuts and combinations, bisections and full volumes, interruption and continuation, frames and infinity. Its terms are the two broad systems of reference which Andy Hope 1930 consistently brings together, intersects, mounts and contrasts in his art. The title invokes the first system directly: the art of the Russian suprematists in its initial phase – 0,10 – the unusual title of the now legendary 1915 exhibition which hailed the end of Russian futurism in Petrograd (now St Petersburg). The second field is provided by the comic book, or, more accurately, the popular mass medium that developed in the ‘thirties, closely tied up with the invention of the superhero. Thus one of the intersecting lines that structures 0,10 and a half is the year 1930: the end of the modern movement and the rise of the comic. Since the end of the ‘nineties the artist has signed his works with a symbol that recalls the history of Russian modernism—not, as is often supposed or alleged, the first signs of the coming National Socialist era. It is to be read, rather, as a symbol of hope for the continuation of a project that came to a premature end in the east in 1930 and was to remain unfinished. But with the year 1930 just as much emphasis is placed on the development in the west; the decisive shift and new beginning that was to take place in the USA after 1929, above all in the mass media and in the form of the comic strip. What followed the decline of modernism in Europe after 1930 is only intended on a third level, but then as a perceptible precondition of our own age. The defeat of fascism was not able to stem this influence entirely, nor were the means that emerged afterwards (the official anti-fascist movement and the rehabilitation of modernism) able to recuperate what had been lost, destroyed and set in motion in the ‘thirties.
A central group of works in the exhibition concretises the concept of time. The Time Tubes are pictorial/sculptural hybrids; crosses between a high degree of simplicity and an incredible complexity, montages presenting an absolute non-image as the frontal aspect of a non-sculpture. They are literal spatial embodiments of Malevich’s Black Square (first exhibited in Petrograd in 1915) and they dissolve its painted materiality but also add an incongruous (pre-modern) frame and a bulky construction of raw industrial timber. The section cuts through the cosmos and the definition of modernism at the same time; it doubles frame and plinth whilst eliminating the division between sculpture and image, space and plane.
The object Wind from Nowhere and the Halfaman picture series also combine comics and suprematism. The object fuses the shards typical of comic-strip explosions and representations of speed, drastically enlarged, with a dynamic ensemble conceived by the Russian constructivists as a supporting element for a propaganda event. The series of pictures presents a peculiar comic-book figure, the Halfaman – a hero consisting of half a body cut down the vertical axis with black on the lateral surface. He bears this bisection as his marvel. Andy Hope 1930 brings the late work of Kazimir Malevich to the development of this character; those pictures in which the constructivist returned to representations of the human figure: a simple system of horizontals and verticals that pass through the body almost symmetrically, presenting the figure in various planes of colour as an intersection or the surface of a mirror. The structure of the Time Tubes reappears in the colours and planes of Hope’s “Halfmen” – the empty picture or non-image on a bulky or corporeal object, the section through volume, the objectified blackness. As with Malevich, these images are at once portraits and designs, abstractions and concretions. They reconstitute the intangible aspects of three-dimensional objects in a two-dimensional medium where it’s naturally easier for them to appear, but their figures nevertheless remain complete entities. Halfaman is not presented as a mistake, a curiosity or a caricature. He is a man whose metaphysical inner side is open and visible to the outside.
In Search of an Exit stands as a hinge or luminous counterpoint between the painted images and the black space of the Tubes – a light-box in which a film sequence becomes a still image without ever really coming to rest: moon, sun or black star; abstraction, perspective or objectivity… no single reading dominates.
Alongside this, Andy Hope 1930 is exhibiting another new series of paintings that once again take up the disappearance of objectivity and again take their point of departure from the medium of the comic strip, namely in the title image: the visible side of a story, the proclamation of a new adventure. The lettering in a comic speaks in type settings and – like the symbols of speed and the explosives in Wind from Nowhere – it emphasises the force of its own appearance, compounds it with danger, fire, storm, horror, fever, vibration… the genre here goes directly for material that’s only suggested at the centre of the mass media (a characteristic of pulp), it unswervingly seeks out the sensation and betrays the fierce battle that rages behind the façade of the product. Andy Hope 1930 has liberated and (by reducing it to a word) intensified this trademark; he makes the visual world and any other points of reference disappear behind a sensational slogan in order to present a mere painted surface, the material dimension of painting, the medium which produces the images that these words have to live with and can again recede into.
The Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga is currently showing the exhibition Robin Dostoyevsky by Andy Hope 1930 (8 April – 19 June 2011).
Nathan Isayevich Altman, Architecture Sculpture, 1918.
From the comic strip series Herbie, published from 1964.
From Five Characters in Search of an Exit, episode of The Twilight Zone, 1961.