Artist: Bethan Huws
Venue: Barbara Gross, Munich
Exhibition Title: Il fait beau aujourd’hui
Date: January 19 – March 11, 2017
Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.
Images courtesy of Barbara Gross, Munich. © Bethan Huws. Photos by Wilfried Petzi.
We are pleased to present Bethan Huws’ first solo show at the gallery. It is also the artist’s first monographic exhibition within a commercial context in Germany since 15 years. The show features works produced throughout her career; early photographs, object-like sculptures and word vitrines as well as a new edition of her research notes on the work of Marcel Duchamp.
Language and nature are the two decisive forces in the conceptual yet sense orientated works of Bethan Huws, evident in her meticulously conceived and beautifully crafted Boats made of rush (1983 onwards), of which numerous versions now exist in different shapes and forms. These works turn a vertically growing plant into a horizontally oriented object representative of human culture. Intimately linked with the biography of the artist, the Boats recall their original context, namely Huws’ childhood in rural Wales and her time at artschool in London.
Bethan Huws studied the transposing of contexts in Marcel Duchamp, whose work she has been researching in detail for over 10 years, the result of which are the much edited Research Notes, 2007-2014, shown for the first time in Munich, in which Huws explores Duchamp’s early readymades in particular. Huws recognised that the key to understanding the thought processes of Marcel Duchamp lies in linguistic connections. Huws’ analytical explorations and the associative word connections she makes in Duchamp’s work titles and notes – both in English and French- reveal the diverse layers of meaning within his work.
Bethan Huws has also chosen language as her reference medium, using the so-called word vitrines – off-the-shelf metal boxes with variable white plastic letters reminiscent of old office spaces and hotels – for her word games since 1999. The delight she finds in cryptic shifts of meaning is clear in the poetic ambivalence of Il fait beau aujourd’hui, 2008 or in Life Is More Important Than Art, 2016.
Huws’ linguistic agility, her dry humour and her gift for pointed formulations, both verbal and visual, can also be found in her objects. In Onion on a Swing, 2008, Digressive Biscuits, 2008 or Apolinère, 2008, references to form and content are collapsed and subjective statements are accompanied by art historical allusions. Through the techniques of citation, of appropriating what already exists and delicately revising it, Bethan Huws’ works show us the fragility of apparently established facts.