Urs Fischer: Sōtatsu

3 May - 23 June 2018

Gagosian Gallery, New York

Sōtatsu comprises a suite of nine paintings in which Fischer further explores the ways that space and gesture can be divided, stretched, opened, and closed—creating a panorama that is as continuous as it is fragmented. Inspired by the hand scrolls and painted screens of early seventeenth-century Japanese artist Tawaraya Sōtatsu, Fischer’s interior landscapes use negative space, light, and repetition to evoke time and movement. Sōtatsu, one of Fischer’s favorite artists, was a cofounder of the Rinpa school, which promoted a return to traditional Japanese subjects—such as gardens, cranes, the four seasons, and references to famous poems—while incorporating shimmering metallic backgrounds, bold colors, and images intersecting with calligraphic text.

In a twenty-first-century echo of Sōtatsu’s aesthetic innovations, Fischer also merges traditional art historical themes with new technologies and styles. The paintings are handmade on a digital substrate, then silkscreened onto aluminum panels. Instead of a direct translation from tablet screen to paper surface, Fischer’s process imbues the digital image with an analog tactility; in some places, his painterly gestures loosen, revealing patches of the shiny aluminum beneath. Each individual work unfolds in succession, starting with a view of Fischer’s home. Furniture, books, and artwork on the walls are illuminated both by natural light coming in through a window and by the warm glow of a lamp in the corner. The room and the light continue to disintegrate, objects appearing and disappearing across the nine large panels, concluding with an exterior view: two birds flying in a sky that is at once stormy and clear.

Freezing gesture through digital means, Fischer considers the changing implications of touch in an increasingly disembodied world, where images are created and repeated at the click of a button. Transforming his own gestures into temporal worlds of their own, he suggests that originality can still be carved out from within the exponentially growing realm of the digital image. 

Fischer’s large-scale sculpture Things is on view at 511 Fifth Avenue, New York (entrance at 2 East 43rd Street), from May 15–June 23.

Image © Urs Fischer 

Urs Fischer was born in Zurich in 1973, and lives and works in New York. Collections include the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Vanhaerents Art Collection, Brussels; FRAC Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Marseille; Fondation Carmignac, Paris; Kunstmuseum Basel; Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich; and Museo d’arte della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano, Switzerland. Recent institutional exhibitions include the 50th Biennale di Venezia (2003); Kir Royal, Kunsthaus Zürich (2004); Not My House Not My Fire, Espace 315, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2004); Mary Poppins, Blaffer Gallery, Art Museum of the University of Houston, TX (2006); the 52nd Biennale di Venezia (2007); Marguerite de Ponty, New Museum, New York (2009–10); the 54th Biennale di Venezia (2011); Skinny Sunrise, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2012); Madame Fisscher, Palazzo Grassi, Venice (2012); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2013); YES, DESTE Foundation Project Space, Slaughterhouse, Hydra, Greece (2013); Small Axe, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow (2016); Mon cher..., Fondation Vincent Van Gogh, Arles, France (2016); and Urs Fischer: The Public & the Private, Legion of Honor Museum, San Francisco (2017).


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