The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
presents The Luminous Interval: The D.Daskalopoulos Collection on view from April 12 through September 11, 2011. This is the first large-scale presentation of one of the worlds most significant private collections of contemporary art. Sponsored by Iberdrola and occupying the museums second floor and part of the first, the exhibition features approximately 60 works by some 30 artists, encompassing a wide range of mediums with a special emphasis on sculpture and environmental installations. Grounded in an assembly of works dating from the 1980s and 1990s by eminent figures such as Louise Bourgeois, Robert Gober, Mike Kelley, Martin Kippenberger, Paul McCarthy, Annette Messager, and Kiki Smith, but also foregrounding projects by younger talents, such as Paul Chan, Guyton\Walker, Nate Lowman, and Wangechi Mutu, the exhibition immerses visitors in a focused survey of some of the most salient artistic developments of the past few decades.
The exhibitions title is derived from the writings of the Greek philosopher Nikos Kazantzakis (18831957), whose thinking has been particularly influential for the collecting practices of Dimitris Daskalopoulos. Kazantzakis envisioned life as a luminous interval during which struggle and disintegration are necessary prerequisites to creative production and renewal. The Luminous Interval: The D.Daskalopoulos Collection explores this coexistence of hope and despair within the human condition, with a particular focus on concepts of alienation, trauma, corporeality, and cultural identity.
The D.Daskalopoulos Collection reflects the tenor of the times, and many of the works in the exhibition confront both the crises and triumphs of contemporary life. While much of the art on view derives from or alludes to specific geopolitical or social contexts, Dimitris Daskalopoulos appreciates in this work its capacity to simultaneously broach universal themes, especially the unquestionable resilience of the human spirit.
Sprawling room-size installations are a hallmark of the D.Daskalopoulos Collection, and the presentation in Bilbao incorporates a significant number of ambitiously scaled works, such as Thomas Hirschhorns tape-and-cardboard catacomb Cavemanman (2002), Annette Messagers heart-shaped Dependence/Independence (1995), Wangechi Mutus baroque tableau of late capitalist excess Exhuming Gluttony (2006/11), and John Bocks hallucinatory multimedia landscape Palms (2007). These chaotic environments are balanced by an opposing formal trope of rigid enclosure and geometric containment, exemplified in sculptures such as Mona Hatoums barricaded electrical cube Current Disturbance (1996), Kendell Geerss razor-mesh grid Akropolis Now (2004), and Damien Hirsts evacuated vitrine and grisly medicine cabinets, respectively entitled The Asthmatic Escaped (1992) and The Lovers (The Spontaneous Lovers) (The Committed Lovers) (The Detached Lovers) (The Compromising Lovers) (1991).
Many of the works in the exhibition delve into prevailing narratives of national and cultural identity. Steve McQueens poetic study of conflicts in the Congo and Iraq (Gravesend/Unexploded, 2007), Rivane Neuenschwanders vision of eroding continental borders (Contingent, 2008), and Nate Lowmans seductive depictions of offshore oil rigs (Oil Riggs, 2005), all comment either obliquely or directly on the conflicts surrounding the planets natural resources. Kutluğ Atamans Küba (2004) evokes a composite portrait of what constitutes a community by focusing on the inhabitants of a slum outside Istanbul, while Paul Pfeiffers The Saints (2007) investigates the dynamics of the crowd through the restaging of an iconic international soccer game. Alexandros Psychouliss Body Milk (2003) and Walid Raad/The Atlas Groups I Was Overcome by a Momentary Panic at the Thought that I Might Be Right (2004) present two very different abstracted depictions of the aftermaths of violence in the Middle East.
Other groupings of works in the exhibition explore the most intimate aspects of individual identity, with a particular focus on the human body in varying states of repression, fecundity, and disintegration. In some cases, this is achieved through the creation of uncanny surrogates, such as Robert Gobers transfigured sinks, cribs, and baskets, or the cast negative space of Rachel Whitereads studies of domestic experience. In others, including Smiths unflinching delineations of bodily functions or Marina Abramovićs intimate, ritualistic encounter with a skeleton, a visceral sense of immediacy prevails. Yet another vein of corporeal renderings in the exhibition take an irreverently subversive approach to the subject, notably Paul McCarthys dismembered Tomato Head (Burgundy) (1994) and Sarah Lucass bathetically vanquished bunny in Bunny Gets Snookered #10 (1997).
The list of artists included in the exhibition comprises: Marina Abramoviċ (b. 1946, Belgrade, Yugoslavia); Kutluğ Ataman (b. 1961, Istanbul); Matthew Barney (b. 1967, San Francisco); John Bock (b. 1965, Gribbohm, Germany); Louise Bourgeois (b. 1911, Paris; d. 2010, New York); Paul Chan (b. 1973, Hong Kong); Mark Dion (b. 1961, New Bedford, Mass.) and Robert Williams (b. 1960, Liverpool, U.K.); Kendell Geers (b. May 1968); Robert Gober (b. 1954, Wallingford, Conn.); Guyton\Walker (Wade Guyton: b. 1972, Hammond, Ind.; Kelley Walker: b. 1969, Columbus, Ga.); Mona Hatoum (b. 1952, Beirut, Lebanon); Thomas Hirschhorn (b. 1957, Bern, Switzerland); Damien Hirst (b. 1965, Bristol, U.K.); Mike Kelley (b. 1954, Detroit, Mich.); William Kentridge (b. 1955, Johannesburg); Martin Kippenberger (b. 1953, Dortmund, Germany; d. 1997, Vienna); Nate Lowman (b. 1979, Las Vegas); Sarah Lucas (b. 1962, London); Paul McCarthy (b. 1945, Salt Lake City, Utah); Steve McQueen (b. 1969, London); Annette Messager (b. 1943, Berck-sur-Mer, France); Wangechi Mutu (b. 1972, Nairobi, Kenya); Rivane Neuenschwander (b. 1967, Belo Horizonte, Brazil); Chris Ofili (b. 1968, Manchester, U.K.); Gabriel Orozco (b. 1962, Jalapa, Mexico); Paul Pfeiffer (b. 1966, Honolulu); Alexandros Psychoulis (b. 1966, Volos, Greece); Walid Raad (b. 1967, Chbanieh, Lebanon); Kiki Smith (b. 1954, Nuremberg, Federal Republic of Germany [West Germany]); and Rachel Whiteread (b. 1963, London).