Swiss Institute is pleased to present an exhibition pairing historical paintings by the late Swiss artist Adolf Dietrich
(1877–1957, lived in Berlingen) with recent paintings by American artist Richard Phillips
(1964, lives in New York). The encounter results in a complex, multi-layered dialogue beyond categorizations.
Adolf Dietrich is characterized as one of the leading Swiss painters of the 20th century and also as a naïve artist. Richard Phillips by contrast is a contemporary painter, who pushes the medium to its limits by choice of provocative themes, a unique painting style as well as by the sheer intensity of his gigantic compositions.
Since 2003, Richard Phillips has repeatedly painted after Dietrich, pushing the boundaries of appropriation to the extreme. Instead of painting after a well-known position from modernism (as Sherri Levine did in the Eighties), Phillips selects a painter, whose fame barely crossed the Swiss borders and who work was controversially received. Rather than questioning whether any art is truly original, Phillips investigates the discrepancy between appropriation and misappropriation.
The juxtaposition of Painting and Misappropriation
is one of distinction and affinity. Dietrich and Phillips share the same subjects: animals, people and landscapes while both enhance figuration stylistically to a degree of artificiality that goes far beyond the depiction of reality.
The pairing of the two oeuvres provokes a radical new reading. Phillips’ work is often criticized for being too literal, while Dietrich’s art has been said to be naïve. The cross-pollination of the respective work by the other’s misappropriation projects a new light on both. It enhances the classic qualities of Richard Phillips’ paintings in their contemporary grandeur and reciprocally makes evident the radical nature of Adolf Dietrich’s compositions.
Curated by Gianni Jetzer and Richard Phillips
A catalogue will be published in June 2010 with texts by Richard Phillips, Beatrix Ruf, Gianni Jetzer, Dorothee Messmer and Markus Landert. Design by Li, Inc.
With kind support of Pro Helvetia, the Swiss Arts Council and Lotteriefonds des Kantons Thurgau
About Swiss Institute / Contemporary Art New York
Swiss Institute / Contemporary Art is a not-for-profit contemporary art gallery operating in New York City since 1986. As a truly international space for contemporary art, we occupy an ambitious, boundary-crossing role in NYC, fostering interaction between American, Swiss and European artists and audiences. Our institution works like a European Kunsthalle
, presenting cutting-edge art within a forward-thinking intellectual framework. Because we have no collection and no responsibilities to the art market, all our energy goes towards the realization of artistic and curatorial projects. An additional vital part of our programming is an ambitious series of events creating crucial opportunities to weave contemporary art into the fabric of everyday life.