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Exhibition features huge canvases, expansive, room-filling installations and exceptionally large drawings
Installationsansicht Big Picture. Das grosse Format, 26.1.–28.4.2019, Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau. Adrian Schiess, 42 flache Arbeiten, 1987–1990. Industrielack auf Spanplatte, 281 x 103.5 x 1.9 cm. Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau / Schenkung Sybil Albers und Gottfried Honegger Photo: René Rötheli, Baden.

AARAU.- The collection presentation Big Picture: Large Work presents huge canvases, expansive, room-filling installations and exceptionally large drawings. Yet "big picture" means more than just outsized art: It may also refer to a totality in terms of an overall view or survey, and so artworks presenting an overall picture independent of their size likewise are an essential part of the exhibition.

Large-scale works are an integral part of today’s art world. Wall-sized paintings, drawings or photographs as well as gigantic installations push the physical boundaries of galleries and museums.

Yet the exhibition Big Picture. Large Work offers more than a selection of oversized works from the collection of the Aargauer Kunsthaus. For a "big picture" may also be described as such with respect to its conceptual dimension. For this reason, the exhibition also includes works which provide an overview of a complex project or an overarching idea. In fascinating and ever-new ways, artists find means to condense their grand visions in individual or multi-part works.

Christian Philipp Müller pursued such a process of condensation in his 1994 installation Tour de Suisse. Through questionnaires and interviews, the artist collected information about twenty-four Swiss art institutions. The result is an interactive, room-size installation featuring videos, forms and exhibition catalogues, which provides an overview of the Swiss museum landscape during the mid-1990s. This work is typical of Müller’s artistic method of research and analysis.

The strategy of synopsizing an oeuvre is exemplified by Le Musée de Ben, a 1972 work by Ben Vautier. The artist made a selection of his own artworks, reproduced them in miniature format and presented them in a small wooden box. This miniature museum provides viewers with a small-scale overview of his complete artistic oeuvre. At the same time, Vautier’s work refers to Marcel Duchamp’s portable suitcase museum La-Boîte-en-valise (1968) which contains eighty scaled down replicas and reproductions of Duchamp’s works. Based on this condensation, both works ironically question the significance of an artist’s overall artistic production. A similar summarisation can be found in Tiroir, a 2018 work by Augustin Rebetez, the youngest artist in the exhibition. The industrial cabinet with eighty drawers contains figures, decorated stone knives, animal skulls, bone jewellery and other objects. These objects evoke rituals of indigenous peoples. Viewers may move and rearrange them; as a result, selecting and presenting the objects is no longer the artist’s responsibility but rather that of the recipients.

Markus Raetz invites viewers to pause in his walk-through installation Chambre de lecture (2013-15) and sharpen their perception. 432 profiles of human faces, each formed from a piece of wire, hang from invisible threads on the walls of a "room within the room". The slightest wisp of wind of a passing person suffices to set the delicate profiles in motion and, in doing so, momentarily remodel their contours.

42 flache Arbeiten (1987-90) by Adrian Schiess is composed of six rectangular panels of the same size, which are arranged in rows. The surrounding space is reflected in the industrially coated monochrome surfaces, thereby becoming part of the installation.

Ultra-large two-dimensional works are an important part of the exhibition. A case in point is the large-scale oil painting Black Painting VIII: Ultramarine Blue & Burnt Umber (1980) by Marcia Hafif. At first glance, the canvas appears monochrome, yet upon closer inspection it turns into a vibrating surface rife with fine colour nuances ranging from ultramarine to umber. Didier Rittener realised his huge drawing Les Pommiers ou indécente foręt (2014-16) working only with pencil. In it, he combined nineteen details of various masterpieces of art history, all of which show the subject of the tree of paradise. He thereby questions the significance of original. Finally, Hannah Villiger’s photographic work Block I, which consists of twelve photographs taken in extreme close-up, raises questions of corporeality, social valuation and identity.

The exhibition comprises works from the collection of the Aargauer Kunsthaus, selectively complemented by selected loans.

Artists: Balthasar Burkhard (1944-2010), Pascal Danz (1961-2015), Markus Döbeli (b. 1958), Michel Grillet (b. 1956), Marcia Hafif (1929-2018), Bruno Jakob (b. 1954), Zilla Leutenegger (b. 1968), Olivier Mosset (b. 1944), Christian Philipp Müller (b. 1957), Karim Noureldin (b. 1967), Vaclav Pozarek (b. 1940), Markus Raetz (b. 1941), Augustin Rebetez (b. 1986), Didier Rittener (b. 1969), Mario Sala (b. 1965), Katharina Sallenbach (1920-2013), Adrian Schiess (b. 1959), Hugo Suter (1943-2013), Fiona Tan (b. 1966), Ben Vautier (b. 1935), Hannah Villiger (1951-1997), and others.

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