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Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen Opens First European Museum Solo Exhibition for Jorge Pardo
Jorge Pardo, CAD layout for a Palapa, 2008, Free standing structure, wood, fabric, Dimensions variable, © Jorge Pardo.

DUSSELDORF.- K21 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen is the first European museum to dedicate a solo exhibition to Jorge Pardo. The American artist was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1963 and lives and works in Los Angeles. About 80 objects, pictures and sculptures offer an overview of Pardo’s work produced over the past 15 years. The main focus in this selection is on Pardo’s dynamic surface designs and his idiosyncratic approach to painting.

The Bar am Kaiserteich is the starting point for Jorge Pardo’s extensive show. The artist carried out the interior design on occasion of the opening of K21 in 2002. The light-green and yellow ovals, which rise irregularly on the reddish brown walls, create an allover which gives the cubical room with its very high ceiling a bubbling dynamism. A band of light which is made up of green and blue leaf-like shapes illuminates and highlights the room’s composition. Jorge Pardo’s exhibition in K21 is intended to show that one of the most outstanding artists of his generation, who has contributed to many projects in Europe and above all in the Rhineland, is responsible for the design of K21’s popular bar.

The show was developed in close cooperation with the artist. Three new pavilions designed by Pardo and his team make up the core. They are based on the so-called palapa, a type of building which is common in tropical regions. These huts are open at the sides and their roofs are traditionally covered with palm leaves. Apart from offering protection from the sun, they also serve as meeting places. Pardo’s palapas function as exhibition booths – at least in this show. While the outer walls consist of light curtains, wooden panels with ornamental openwork form the main interior. Installations from three different phases of the artist’s work are exhibited in these three palapas. The display focuses on Pardo’s main artistic aim -- the synthesis of concealment and exhibition, and function and presentation.

Since his studies at the Art Centre of Design in Pasadena, California, in the 1980’s, Pardo has been consistent regarding the use of computers in his artistic work. Since the end of the 1990’s his art has been produced in a workshop organised like a manufactory in which Pardo works together with artists, craftsmen and architects. At “Jorge Pardo Sculpture” (JPS) in Los Angeles handcraft, cooperative practical experience and digitally controlled production merge in a unique way. Objects, pictures and shapes which exist beyond the borders of design, architecture, sculpture and painting, and between independent and applied art are the result. This approach inspires new connections between the arts and the experiences of everyday life.

Pardo’s work is formally inspired by his confrontation with the language of Classic Modernism (from Hans Arp to Henry Moore) and design history (from Charles Eames to Verner Panton). Influences from Conceptual Art and Institutional Critique (from Daniel Buren to Michael Ascher to Heimo Zoberning) also play a part. Jorge Pardo sees himself as a sculptor. His field of activity is the area occupied by his viewers. Initially his works fascinate because of their colourfulness and great variety of shapes. However, the complex artistic approach behind this first impression connects art and life thus radically challenging the forms and functions of design and decoration regarding their social significance.

During the past twelve years Pardo carried out numerous, in many cases, spectacular works in public places. In connection with the exhibition “Skulpturen.Projekte Münster 1997” he created an accessible boardwalk with a cigarette machine which extended far into the lake. In 2000 Pardo designed a colourful exterior for the motorway restaurant at Pratteln/Switzerland which had been built across the autobahn. The lounge of the “Kontaktzone Ost-West” at the new fair in Leipzig, 1996, the dining room of the German Parliament in Berlin, 2000, the lobby and the library in the DIA Art Foundation in New York, 2000, the house of the collectors Reyes in Puerto Rico, 2004, and the new presentation of the Pre-Columbian Collection in the Los Angeles County Museum, 2008, are among his distinctive interior designs.

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