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Solo exhibition of new work by Martin Kersels opens at Mitchell-Innes & Nash
Installation view of Cover Story at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York, 2019. © Martin Kersels; Courtesy of the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York.

NEW YORK, NY.- Mitchell-Innes & Nash is presenting Cover Story, a solo exhibition of new work by Martin Kersels. On view at the gallery’s Chelsea location, this is the artist’s second solo show with Mitchell-Innes & Nash and features a series of new sculptural wall pieces.

Assembled largely with wood and found LP record sleeves, the works on view in Cover Story explore an aesthetic strategy that Kersels calls “materially limited bricolage.”

Sharing in the visual and conceptual legacy of H.C. Westermann, Martin Kersels also draws influences from French new realists like Jacques Villeglé and Jean Tinguely, as well as from Dadaist collagists Kurt Schwitters and Hannah Hoch. Like his predecessors, Kersels’s work strives for an aura of immediacy, shunning the eternal timelessness that is often sought in more traditional modes of art like oil painting or bronze sculpture. With this exhibition, the artist seeks to engage with the “near finite”—that is to say, the immediate world around us in both temporal and spatial terms. Kersels makes a point to note that the size of the LPs correspond directly to the allowable runtime of the music recorded, highlighting the compression of time and space inherent in a vinyl recording.

In making this body of work, Kersels was also interested in “breaking the stillness” and several pieces in the exhibition feature an internal motor that powers a moving component. In The Love Hours (for Mike Kelley), for instance, the artist has incorporated a rotating dial, not unlike a tonearm on a record player or a clock hand, which reveals a cutout of an eye as it turns. Eyes play a significant role in the visual lexicon of Kersels’s recent work; they offer up moments of reflection and the artist has likened the imagery on LP sleeves to portraits or mirrors- ones that allow the viewer to “pour their own thoughts and emotions into it.”

Cover Story will be accompanied by a new performance piece by the artist in which, dressed in costume, Kersels will activate the site-specific stage at the center of the gallery space with a three-song aural collage. Performances will take place at the opening reception and again on Saturday, May 4 at 2:30 PM.

Martin Kersels’ performative practice spans sculpture, photography, installation, and action. He is best known for his laughter-inducing works that consider the dichotomies of humor and pathos within the human condition. Interested in pushing themes of scale, tension, and the effects of gravity into more conceptual directions, Kersels injects a playfulness in his work to reveal the awkwardness associated with not belonging. Documentation of performances through photography and video, which shows the artist experimenting within his own body in a series of simple actions— tossing, falling, hugging, smacking, tripping, and whirling— and his performative objects and installations uncover the darker absurdities of the body, space, and movement.

Born in 1960 in Los Angeles, Kersels currently lives and works in New Haven, CT. He received from UCLA both his BA in 1984 and MFA in 1995. From 1984 to 1993, Kersels participated in collaborative performances with SHRIMPS, an alternative performance art group associated with artful maladroit actions that he co-founded. His decision to expand his practice of performative gestures and collaborations to include performative sculptures, objects, and assemblages was pivotal.

His objects and projects have been the subject of major solo and group exhibitions, including the Whitney Biennial (1997, 2010); XXXXXXXXO at Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2013); Charms (Black Cloud/Green Dog/Little, Little Boy/White House/Silver Clouds) at Santa Barbara Museum of Art (2012); Tumble Room at Museum Tinguely, Basel (2010); Heavyweight Champion at Tang Museum, Saratoga Springs (2007) and Santa Monica Museum of Art (2008); Disorderly Conduct at Orange County Museum of Art (2008); 100 Artists See God at Institute of Contemporary Art, London (2005), and more. Other important exhibitions of Kersels’ work have been held at Fondazione Prada, Milan; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Kunsthalle Bern; Musée d'Art Contemporain, Marseille; Musée Cantonal des Beaux Arts, Lausanne; Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver; Renwick Gallery at Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC; and Swiss Institute for Contemporary Art, New York, among others.

His work is held in public collections at major institutions worldwide, including Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona; Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica, Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; MoCA, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami; Fonds national d'art contemporain, Paris; Centre national des arts plastiques, Paris; and Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona.

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