Installation view, Mark Handforth, Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Löwenbräu Areal, Zurich, 2006
Galerie Eva Presenhuber is pleased to present its first solo exhibition of American artist Mark Handforth. In 2003, the Miami Beach resident was already represented in the gallery’s group show Breathing the water with a sculpture titled Jack Smith. In Zurich, the artist definitely established his reputation with a solo exhibition dedicated to him at the Kunsthaus in 2005. At Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Handforth will be showing new works specially made for this exhibition. On view will be a monumental floor sculpture, several new wall works, and a sculpture hanging from the ceiling.
Mark Handforth is known for his adaptations of industrially manufactured signposts and urban ‘furnishings’ such as street lamps, tires, motorcycles, parking meters, public telephones or hydrants. He uses these artefacts that Ed Ruscha once termed “overlooked objects” by altering them, sometimes reproducing them partially, thus often keeping the viewer in the dark about whether they are ready-mades or not. Robert Venturi’s slogan “Billboards are almost all right”, mentioned in his study “Learning from Las Vegas”, describes Handforth’s starting point insofar as the artist takes things existing in the world as a basis, thereby recognizing their existence. These things are here, and they are here to stay. By transforming them, Handforth lets them find a new sense of poetry that carries the idea of vanity.
For instance, Diamond Brite (a contribution to the Whitney Biennial 2004) is a large, bent freeway sign that looks like an authentic road sign on Interstate 95. Nevertheless, it is pure fiction – as a matter of fact, there is no such sign with an inscription saying “No Exit”. In his art, Handforth always makes use of signs either stemming from or referring to everyday life. With a referential working method that draws its inspiration from popular images, the artist reaches the level of romanticism: a level that can be sublime and ordinary at the same time. This simultaneity of opposites is what Handforth is interested in and what he aims at.
With his sculptures, Handforth evokes an urban ambiance. An integral part of his work is the negative space that the viewer intensely experiences between himself, the piece of art, and the room. When the artist compiles works for exhibitions, he speaks of creating landscapes. Entropy blends into memory: maybe this multiplying effect is one of the reasons why exhibitions by Mark Handforth are able to create such a strong presence.