Portikus Announces Michael Pfrommer and Adrian Williams Exhibition

Portikus presents an exhibition of work by Michael Pfrommer and Adrian Williams, on view 24 September–6 November 2011. Opening: 23 September 2011, 8pm.

As a further engagement with its architectural redesign—a recent addition of an intermediate second floor that has doubled the exhibition space—this show at the Portikus confronts two artistic positions. For the first time in the history of Portikus, the works of two artists will be presented spatially separate. Yet the architectural separation is meant to indicate analogy rather than disassociation: Michael Pfrommer’s and Adrian Williams’s oeuvres have developed in parallel ways for years and are in many regards akin to each other. After graduating from the Städelschule, they spent time abroad—in Tokyo, New York, and Tierra del Fuego—before returning to Frankfurt in 2009, where they now live and work. Their artistic practices are in continuous exchange with each other; they have also developed numerous joint projects.

Michael Pfrommer’s paintings and drawings speak of mystical universes. His motifs grow out of everyday impressions from his immediate surroundings as well as from his friends and family. He recalls fragments from films, pieces of music, song lyrics, and picture stories, knitting them together in forever new ways in order to capture moments that strike him as significant. The results vary, from disfigured self-portraits and bizarre comic strip characters to bleak or lifeless landscapes and subtly delineated still lifes. Pfrommer’s pictures reveal his fascination with painters such as Bernard Buffet, James Ensor, and Francisco de Goya, whose somber and often macabre pictures are profoundly unsettling depictions of human and psychological states. Pfrommer’s particular talent is to face the frequently abysmal conditions he sees—be they social or personal—with great subtlety and a grain of humor. Repetition, coupled with restless insistence, is a central feature of Pfrommer’s work. The exhibition presents his work in unprecedented breadth in order to highlight its complexity.

Adrian Williams’s new work occupies the temporary upper floor at Portikus. Both the acoustic conditions and the intimate room with the staircase, the wooden flooring, and the views of the city provide an ideal setting for Adrian Williams’s carefully planned performances. In the exhibition at the Portikus, the piece, which is subdivided into several chapters, will be subject to ongoing elaboration over the entire duration of the exhibition; the artist will work with the participating musicians and actors and perform once every week. During the opening hours, the instruments, sound objects, microphones, speakers, pieces of furniture, etc. that Adrian Williams has assembled into a stage design like installation will serve the artist and her team as a public rehearsal space. The entire intermediate ceiling is thus transformed into a voluminous sounding body transmitting voices and sounds to the lower exhibition space.

Although Adrian Williams’s work may at first glance seem to be the formal opposite of Michael Pfrommer’s paintings, there are several parallels: here, too, observations from wondrous universes appear; fantastic and mysterious stories, enigmatic encounters, and strange moods. Like Pfrommer, she sketches the contours of characters everyone can read in their own way. And Williams, too, relies on repetition and doubling, of selected sounds or words, for instance, which persistently reappear throughout a piece to transport the listener back to a particular place. The “divided proximity” between the two oeuvres enabled by the spatial configuration at Portikus helps to highlight each artist’s unaffected engagement with the other’s work, but also the ways they directly influence certain processes and artistic decisions.

A catalogue will be published in conjunction with the exhibition. An artist’s edition by Michael Pfrommer will also be available.

Performances by Adrian Williams:
Wednesday, September 28, 7pm
Wednesday, October 5, 7pm
Wednesday, October 12, 7pm
Wednesday, October 26, 7pm
Wednesday, November 2, 7pm

Made possible by: Stiftung Polytechnische Gesellschaft, Frankfurt am Main

Director: Nikolaus Hirsch
Curator: Sophie von Olfers

Alte Brücke 2 / Maininsel
60594 Frankfurt am Main

Image: Michael Pfrommer, “Untitled,” 2010. Ink and watercolor on paper on canvas, 77cm x 58cm.

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