NEW YORK, NY.- Assembled under the revealing title Disorderly Conduct, Francois Ilnsehers recent collages are an audacious collection by a contemporary collage artist. Varying in size, medium, and technique, they have much in common with Ilnsehers work over the past decade, yet these new collages have an increased level of abstraction and renewed sense of subtlety and internal structure. As such, they represent a new and exciting direction in this accomplished artists work.
At all points during his rich career Ilnseher has refused easy classification. He is a photographer and collage maker, a draftsman, painter and at times a sculptor. In the current show, he proves himself a highly nuanced and deft collage maker, using mixed media in paintings and works on paper. There is in almost every piece expressive brushwork, a painterly sense of color or dripping paint, along with photographic fragments and a recurrent theme: the often-torn square grid of a metal screen. Most of the works that bear this highly ordered orthogonal grid are paintings on stretched canvas with only very subtle sculptural relief qualities. These paintings also have collage elements such as pieces of watercolor paper and spray-paint. The works on paper often bear indexical marks of this same Cartesian order that resemble monotype printmaking.
Ilnsehers refusal to behave as a craftsman of a specific medium and to be orderly in the sense of a métier or discipline is of course anything but surprising in contemporary art. It is something that has come to be expected and commonplacesomething that goes back to Picassos and Braques first papier-colle works of 1912. Yet Ilnsehers assemblages manage to bring a degree of freshness and even deep excitement to the collage medium. They are more than merely provocative in their lack of concern with surface slickness. Ilnsehers collages are neither easy nor superficially messy. They do not startle us in their size or their choice of unusual fragments. They do not possess shocking narratives or overt social/political messages. Neither are they nostalgic emulations of the first Cubist or Surrealist collage makers. They refuse grandiosity and overdone exuberance. They are in fact quite simple, serene and quietly structured in their internal geometries. Though highly ordered they remain distinctly not orderly. They are in fact about as disorderly, irreverent, and care-free as one can get while at the same time keeping sight of a certain inner corea core that one suspects is rather highly concerned with certain ideas of order.
Consider for instance his collage At Sea. It is an apt title, one that might apply to all Ilnsehers recent work. Certainly there is a sea-like feeling, an atmospheric blurring and warping, a wateriness to the surfaces. Certainly we are faced with an insistence on an implied though unspecified horizon. Yet we are also so to speak at sea in this collage, in other words confused, unsure exactly where we are. And this is where the disorderly part of this highly ordered collection begins to unsettle us. We have here both order and a profound lack of anything we might call orderly.
Francois Ilnseher was born in Biel, Switzerland. He started his formal education in visual arts with Diane Lidchi in Johannesburg, South Africa. After he moved to New York, he continued his education at the School of Visual Arts and the Art Student League. He worked with a variety of media, but his special interest is in photography and collage. His professional collaboration with such celebrated photographers as Hiro, Horst, Irving Penn, Richard Avedon and others continues to have a lasting influence on his work.
His work was exhibited in New York, Beacon, Miami, Amsterdam, Berlin, Johannesburg and Zurich. He is represented by Gallery Molly Krom in New York and Berlin. He lives and works in NYC.