Von Bartha opens two solo exhibitions by Imi Knoebel and Bernar Venet

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Von Bartha opens two solo exhibitions by Imi Knoebel and Bernar Venet
Installation View, Imi Knoebel: CENTRUM at von Bartha, Basel, 21 November – 20 February 2020. Photo: Simon Schwyzer. Image courtesy von Bartha and the Artist.

BASEL.- Von Bartha is presenting two solo exhibitions by Imi Knoebel and Bernar Venet in the gallery’s Basel space, 21 November 2020 – 20 February 2021. Installed in the front space of the gallery, CENTRUM features new large-scale art works by German artist Imi Knoebel. Running concurrently with Knoebel‘s exhibition, TRAJECTORY features a series of paintings and new sculptures by French artist Bernar Venet in the gallery's main hall, exploring the artist's attraction to pure science as a subject for art.

One of the leading German artists of the post-war period, conceptual artist Imi Knoebel is known for his theoretical approach to colour and form. CENTRUM features a new series of five large-scale, monochrome paintings by the artist. For this series of work, Knoebel returns to working with wood, a material which has occupied him since the beginning of his career. The works in the series, which are being exhibited for the first time in this exhibition, allude to the contoured skyline of a city. As part of the series, Knoebel has created a distinctive cross-shaped work, symbolically suggestive of a church at the heart of this abstract landscape. With some of the works in the series reaching more than three metres wide, the artworks dominate the gallery space. Knoebel made the decision to restrict the display of his artwork to the front space of the gallery in order to create a strikingly dense display.

Knoebel’s puristic line drawings of the early 1970s saw the inclusion of colour for the first time in 1974. Throughout a career spanning over 50 years, the artist has continued his experimentation with colour, his powerful use of colour combinations working to reveal the physical potentialities behind often rudimentary materials. By reducing art to its most formal elements, Knoebel highlights the possibilities inherent within these materials and structures.

French multidisciplinary artist Bernar Venet works across painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, and performance. TRAJECTORY features a series of eight paintings and two new sculptures by the artist in the main hall of the gallery. An exploration of the artist’s concept of monosemy, the exhibition features a series of six recent paintings (2018-2020) which embody Venet’s commitment to self referentiality. The artist is drawn to the beauty of the immediate simplicity and purity of a formula, and assigns no further meaning to the canvases that present these diagrams. This series harks back to Venet's conceptual programme of work from the late 1960s when the artist began to incorporate mathematical and scientific texts and formulas into drawings, onto canvases, and in photographic blow-ups. TRAJECTORY features two paintings originating from this early era of the artist’s practice, which are being exhibited alongside the new series. TRAJECTORY also features two sculptures by Venet, Dispersion/Arcs, exhibited on plinths in the centre of the space, which continue the artist’s investigation into the mathematical and philosophical implications of the line as well as the dichotomy between order and chance.

Venet gained recognition in the 1960s for his Goudron (Tar) paintings and his iconic sculpture Tas de Charbon (Pile of Coal), widely recognised as the first sculpture without a specific shape. He soon developed formalist sculptures in the medium of steel, a material that would become central to his practice. Venet says that his sculptures are about "how the material resists. It is a test of strength—a battle between myself and the piece of metal".

Stefan von Bartha, Director, commented: “It's an immense pleasure to host two solo shows by such established artists. But for me, the even greater highlight is that both exhibitions will feature very focused bodies of works which will be in an exciting dialogue with the gallery‘s architecture“.

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