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Kunsthalle Zurich at Museum Barengasse opens Olivier Mosset ++ Leaving the Museum

The Kunsthalle Zurich at Museum Bärengasse presents Olivier Mosset ++ Leaving the Museum, on view 21 April–17 June 2012. Opening: 20 April 2012.

The exhibition Olivier Mosset ++ Leaving the Museum is the final project to be staged by the Kunsthalle Zürich at its temporary home in the Museum Bärengasse before it returns to its renovated and extended premises at the Löwenbräu art complex. Over the past year and a half, wide-ranging encounters with contemporary art have taken place in the houses of the Museum Bärengasse, which were built in 1670 and feature tiled stoves, decorative stucco work, and wood panelling. We have now come full circle with this last exhibition by Olivier Mosset (born in Bern in 1944, lives and works in Tucson, Arizona), which is staged in 16 rooms of the Museum Bärengasse and presents a range of works, which have been integrated into the features of the space. Leaving the Museum combines a large selection of Mosset’s paintings with works created in collaboration with other artists, works which arose in his circle and works inspired by him. Olivier Mosset approaches the Museum Bärengasse’s numerous individual rooms as individual exhibitions in themselves, which together provide an insight into his wide-ranging œuvre and artistic practice.

Olivier Mosset left Switzerland as a young man and settled in Paris. He worked as an assistant for Jean Tinguely and Daniel Spoerri, and together with Daniel Buren, Michel Parmentier and Niele Toroni established the BMPT group in the mid-1960s. The group, which explored the essence of painting and undermined traditional institutional structures, raised questions about authorship and originality. Mosset became known for his circle paintings during this period. By 1974 he had painted 200 of these works, all showing an identical black circular ring on a white background. This repetition and limitation to a single, simple motif reduced the manifestness of painterly practice and the individual artistic effort to a lowest common denominator. He continued his interrogation of traditional ideas in the stripe paintings which he produced from 1972, and which—inspired by Buren’s stripe motifs—opened up a literal field of experience. This led to a radical reduction to monochrome in 1977 and saw Mosset become an important proponent of Radical Painting. Mosset’s painting is always based on the material reality of the work: dimension, format, ground, colour and the uniform application of the paint. The central focus of Mosset’s work is the exploration of what painting is and how an artist must paint so that painting functions exclusively as such, without being systematically programmed or dictated by chance. Painting is colour and colour alone. In the 1980s, Mosset produced two-coloured abstract paintings and since the 1990s, Mosset has been producing “shaped canvases.”

Mosset is an “easy rider.” His rejection of the norms of painting finds analogous expression in the vast expanses of unspoiled landscape found in his adopted home of Arizona and his love of motorbikes that often feature in his art and presentations—for example one of his motorbikes, a 1950s “Vincent,” appears in a curious presentation in one of the small rooms on the top floor of the Museum Bärengasse. The motorbike rhetoric is reflected in the delicate irony of the folk-rock songs of Al Perry, in the work Run by Christina Da Silva, in Mosset’s video Last Run at Montriond 14 (2004) as well as in the road movie T.S.O.Y.W (2007) by Amy Granat and Drew Heitzler that are all included in the exhibition.

Collaboration with other artists has been a feature of Mosset’s artistic activity from the outset. He has worked with artists like Parrino, John Armleder, Sylvie Fleury, and Andy Warhol. In 1985, the latter signed a yellow square painted by Mosset in 1979. The work of the American artist Michael Zahn (born in 1963, lives and works in Brooklyn), which is presented in the exhibition, also adopts this concept: Mosset recently signed a work by Zahn who combines minimalism and the American cult of the superficial in his art, transforming the binary codes of computer language into painting.

Kunsthalle Zürich thanks: Präsidialdepartement der Stadt Zürich, Luma Foundation, and Hulda und Gustav Zumsteg-Stiftung.

Kunsthalle Zürich at Museum Bärengasse
Bärengasse 20-22
8001 Zurich, Switzerland
T +41 (0)44 272 15 15
F +41 (0)44 272 18 88
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