This catalogue/artists' book is based on the notebook, reproduced in facsimile, where Sophie von Hellermann and Josh Smith have drawn during the installation of their first duo exhibition.
Bringing together some exhibition views and the correspondence between the artists and the curators, the book documents a confrontation of two painters from the same generation who, having in common a prolific production that undermines the conception of painting as masterpiece, and emphasizing painting as a stage in a continuous process of creation, express however a common energy and freedom through radically different projects.
Published on the occasion of Josh Smith and Sophie von Hellermann's exhibition at Le Consortium, Dijon, from September to November 2009, and at Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Deurle, from April to June 2010.
Josh Smith (*1978, lives and works in New York) has recently gained a wide acclaim
for paintings that seem to turn Abstract Expressionism into cartoon-like
forms of appropriation. He first became known for the works in which he
used his name as a motif on the canvas, an ironic act of self marketing.
His later "abstractions" and "palettes" further demonstrated his ability
to collage manual imput and mechanical reproduction, challenging the
notions of creation.
In a world of incessant
flows, products, and images, Smith succeeds in offering an alternative flow that serves to
break the repetition of the same. Authenticity is not to be sought in a triumphant
subjectivity whose return would be signaled through signature and expressiveness, but in
a frenzied search whereby subject and work are constantly co-produced and modified.
As other artists of her generation, Sophie von Hellermann (born 1978 in Munich, lives and works in New York) allows herself to draw from the history
of painting and from its progressively acquired liberties in order to trace her singular path.
From this singular space, she uses painting as an instrument that allows her
simultaneously to appropriate and to excuse herself from reality. Each one of SvH's
paintings condenses a story, and contains it perfectly within the limits of the frame, yet it
is pierced full of holes from within. These empty spaces imbue her works with their
evocative power : a capacity first to absorb the gaze and then to expose both the
imagination and the memory to sensation. The subject-matter of her essentially narrative
paintings is at the intersection of a personal and a collective history, without there being
any clear boundaries between the two. Rapid execution, a prolific output, a casual style,
narratives which blend history and the everyday, a permanent confusion between the
trivial and the grandiose are the instruments she uses to transgress the rules of propriety