Isabel Nolan’s work encompasses text, sculpture, drawing and textiles, and often begins with the close scrutiny of individual literary or artistic works, or evolves out of consciously erratic and diverging enquiries into the aesthetics of varied fields. Ola Vasiljeva borrows fragments from history and literature to create imaginary thresholds in which sculpture, drawing, video and found objects commingle on a level playing field.
By Dimitris Lempesis
Photo: Grazer Kunstverein Archive
Τhe Grazer Kunstverein presents two solo exhibitions by Isabel Nolan and Ola Vasiljeva. “Curling Up With Reality” Isabel Nolan’s solo presentation of new and recent work reimagines the vaulted rooms of the Grazer Kunstverein as a crypt or secular chapel for the disgraced Dominican friar and cosmological theorist Giordano Bruno. Towards the end of the 16th century Bruno developed a mental memory system that he believed could encompass and order all knowledge of the universe. With “(Tomb) Memory Wheel” (2017), a suspended steel sculpture composed of concentric circles, upon which colourful, delicate, irregularly shaped bone-like objects rest, Nolan has reimagined an ossuary. This work is dedicated to Bruno’s memory system and his largely unacknowledged, anachronistic vision of an infinite universe where all matter, and so all people, were equally imbued with divinity and dignity. A series of photographs focusing mostly on feet (human and animal, living and dead) and man-made floors and pavements reveal the artist’s interest in looking down instead of up. Whether she is imaging the lofty thoughts of unlikely philosophers, or observing the upturned soles of funerary sculptures, Nolan’s work examines how the universe is brought into meaning in the human mind, and how the intimate nature of direct contact with the world and physical lowness can unexpectedly arrest that process of understanding. In “The Decline of the Showpieces” Ola Vasiljeva’s work tells stories. Stories that belong to no single entity, but which unfold gently through objects. While walking one day in Graz, the artist encountered an enormous boarded-up 16th century building on Kaiser Franz Josef Kai. Falling in love with the door and window grates that shelter the interior from the glare of passersby, she began to develop new sculptural works that would neither hide nor reveal themselves, objects that “look like,” but refuse to fully commit, sitting somewhere on the cusp of recognition. Vasiljeva speaks with materials through strong lines, exaggerated features and rude shapes, but it’s the magic she conjures in encapsulating what’s absent that makes her work sing. As part of our winter season the artist stages an arrangement of recent and newly produced work, to create a series of imaginary thresholds that act as guardians between one moment and the next.
Info: Grazer Kunstverein, Palais Trauttmansdorff, Burggasse 4, Graz, Duration: 7/12/17-18/2/18, Days & Hours: Wed-Sun 11:00-18:00, www.grazerkunstverein.org