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Galerie Michel Rein opens its fourth solo exhibition with artist Yuri Leiderman
Yuri Leiderman, Portrait of Taras Shevchenko and the boat, 2012. Oil on canvas, 160 x 210 cm. Courtesy of the artist and galerie Michel Rein, Paris.

PARIS.- Galerie Michel Rein presents “Portrait dans les roseaux”, the 4th solo exhibition by Yuri Leiderman at the gallery after « La route Jura-Paris » 1994, « Apprendre l’histoire de l’Europe à un chat et mesurer le bonheur en petits chiens » 1999 et « Les performances de Dima Blein » 2004.

Leiderman's works often draw inspiration from the themes of national identity (which he calls "Geopoetics") and seek to transform these issues into abstractions, thereby testing their elasticity while highlighting their unexplainable character, and giving them back a certain degree of irreducible, if not ironic, dignity. The primarily graphic and expressive paintings in this exhibition mainly consist of portraits that blend figuration with a kind of oneiric abstraction.

This is perhaps best exemplified by an unusual portrait of Saddam Hussein entitled, Saddam Hussein on the Wind 2013. Here Leiderman has taken a well-circulated image of the shocked and disillusioned late dictator and transformed it, in such a way that he becomes disembodied and phantasmal, and undergoes an ambiguous pictorial redemption.

Although Leiderman's return to painting may seem contradictory to his many years of preoccupation with "conceptual" performances and installations, it in fact merely prolongs the guiding line of his artistic investigations. It can be defined as a contradiction between "expressions" and "guarantees", between "cry" and "ornament", or "pathos" and "repetition". In each of his pieces, the somewhat unclear "pathetic" appeal and the rather unnecessary ornamental approach collide and therefore partly cancel each other out to become a kind of semi-obscurity, which is both treated as an anti-ideological and non-discursive liberation. This certainly becomes clearer in the show, in which Leiderman's recent paintings can be seen in parallel with small hand-made art books executed over 25 years ago, in the mid-80s. Seemingly sentimental but very disjointed sentences simultaneously support and destroy the monotone, idiosyncratic, page-by-page design, which traps the viewer in a kind of irrational "one-hand clap."

Altogether, the two parts of this show provide us with a crucial opportunity to understand and appreciate the simultaneously deflating and redemptive logic of Leiderman’s singular works.

Yuri Leiderman (born in 1963) lives and works in Berlin. He has participated in a great number of international solo exhibitions: Le Quartier Centre d’art contemporain, Quimper / National Center of Contemporary Art, Moscou / FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, Reims / Centre d’art contemporain de Genève / Mac, Marseille / Le Creux de l’enfer, Thiers / Herzliya Art Museum, Herzliya. Yuri Leiderman’s artworks are present in French and international collections: Mac, Marseille / CNAP, Paris-La Défense / FRAC Rhône-Alpes, Villeurbane / FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, Reims / Russian National Museum, St. Petersburg / Ludwig Museum, Budapest / New Ludwig Collection, Aachen / Center of Contemporary Art Luigi Pecci, Prato / National Gallery Victoria, Melbourne. He was also invited in internationals biennials : 1st Brussels Biennial / 2nd Moscow Biennial / 11th Sydney Biennial / 3rd Istanbul Biennial / 8th Krasnojarsk Biennal /50th Venice Biennale / Shanghai Biennial.

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