November 8, 2015 - Kunsthalle Münster - Nic Hess
November 8, 2015

Nic Hess

Nic Hess, Ei-land, 2013. Courtesy of the artist, Philipp von Rosen Gallery (Cologne) and Grieder Contemporary (Zürich). Photo: Ruth Erdt, Zürich.

Nic Hess
The Stuff the Dreams Were Made Of

November 7, 2015–February 28, 2016

Kunsthalle Münster
Speicher II
Hafenweg 28
D-48155 Münster
Hours: Tuesday–Friday 2–7pm,
Saturday–Sunday 12–6pm

T +49 251 4924191
kulturamt [​at​]

The Swiss artist Nic Hess (b. 1968) draws the motifs for his large format drawings from the alluring, colorful vocabulary of contemporary imagery, including advertising, consumption, tourism, modern architecture and icons of contemporary art history. Sampled like collages and inventoried in layers, this common imagery of Western Culture relinquishes part of its individual formal and contextual significance. Hess develops a novel pictorial language with an affinity to installation procedures. The works’ extreme size supersedes their surroundings and questions their spatial orientation, even though they are completed on a site-specific basis.

Analogous to the materials used—commonly found colored tapes, printed pages or rolls of paper—the drawings do not exude a deep sensuality: rather it is their fleetingness, smart surfaces and the appearance of our nervous, contemporary ways of looking that captivate us. That Hess’ works appear to oscillate between rampant overexpansion and reckless abbreviation is dependent on one’s perspective. They generate simultaneously a sense of the static and the dynamic. Besides creating a desire for associative play, they focus attention on the formal conditions of their execution and the short-lived duration of their immediate presence in the exhibition space. The viewer is invited on a fascinating voyage of perception, controlled by the image and activated by one’s movement through space.

For the Kunsthalle Münster, Nic Hess has conceived a room-filling installation covering numerous wall surfaces. Consisting of new and previously completed works, The Stuff the Dreams Were Made Of creates layers of meaning from predominantly black-and-white imagery—picture sequences drawn from the automobile, travel, and culture industries arranged as set pieces and printed in a dated, offset lithography process. Additionally, first-time ceiling-high plots printed with camouflage patterns and other images from the artist’s archive—work sketches and images downloaded from the Internet—hang like tapestries and document his earlier collages.

The diversity, material groupings and contexts of all these visual elements do not distill into a unifying narrative. What remains instead is a kaleidoscope of images that speak to us in myriad ways. They also, through their speciousness, move us to reflect the conditions of how we perceive.

Through repetition and confusing gaps and breaks, the new works conceived for the Kunsthalle Münster open up disjointed, often disturbing—yet simultaneously mysterious—pictorial sequences of a dream-like world: globalized conglomerates of the real, the embedded, the imagined, and the desired—things that in dreams are removed from the categories of right or wrong—circulate through our subconscious. And is adverting—the creation of desire for a seemingly perfect world—not an integral part of our waking lives? Hess’s exhibition points to a likely outcome in the future, even as it appears to become more and more our condition of the present. His work, however, does not express pessimistically the cultural failure of a societal utopia, but rather the productive reversal from the possible future to a possible past, whose horizons of expectation attempt to elucidate the present.

Given that the past can also have a present, the band Frankie & Tony, Duo en Vogue will play during the opening under the moniker “The smallest Swing Orchestra of the World, with Tony Carbone Old Blue Eye Frank Sinatra and Every Woman’s Darling,” Herméto Ze Maria (aka Nic Hess). What remains are an empty stage and a silent echo that the visitor to the exhibition in the Kunsthalle Münster can not hear because it has not yet occurred. It is imminent.

The exhibition is curated by Gail Kirkpatrick and Marcus Lütkemeyer.

Nic Hess lives and works in Zürich. Solo exhibitions (selection): Big Timetable for a Tiny City, Grieder Contemporary, Zürich (2015); highways and byways. together again, Daimler Contemporary, Berlin (2014); Archivo teatral, Figge von Rosen Gallery, Berlin (2014); The Birds (For Lilou), Swiss Institute, New York (2012); Automatic Crash Response, Armand Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2009); and Wall, Muri (with Frederico Herrero), Fondazione Bevilacqua, Venice (2006).


Nic Hess on Kunsthalle Münster
Kunsthalle Münster
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