Matter of Masters: 5 Years of TMH

The Merchant House, Amsterdam / Netherlands

November 22, 2018–January 20, 2019
November 15, 2018
Amsterdam Art Weekend: November 22–25, special gallery hours: 12–6pm
Exhibition Opening: November 23, 5–9pm
Luciano Berio Concert: November 25, 3–5pm, with flutist Machiko Takahashi, intro by Marsha Plotnitsky
5-Year B'day Bash: December 14, 7pm, program TBA

The Merchant House
Herengracht 254
1016 BV Amsterdam

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Dennis Oppenheim, Hilarius Hofstede, Craigie Horsfield, Judit Reigl, Carolee Schneemann

The Merchant House's anniversary show reflects on painting by taking its cue from the oeuvre of the American conceptual artist Dennis Oppenheim (1938–2011). Referencing his drawings on the pervasive power of painting, it goes on to examine the boundaries and extensions of this fundamental art medium in the works of Hilarius Hofstede, Craigie Horsfield, Judit Reigl, and Carolee Schneemann, artists previously shown at TMH.

Matter of Masters presents Dennis Oppenheim’s color-saturated works on paper, with such singular titles as: Lungs with Brushes, 1991, and Roots in Cubism—Hearts in the Stars/(Forest for Cézanne), 1984. These distinct drawings complement his famously transgressive sculptural interventions, while taking issue with the strictly non-painterly position of the conceptual practice. They can be seen as prophetically imagining the future (our present) as a return of nonunified artistic visions, indebted to Cézanne and cubism.

TMH’s program lineup has previously linked the painter of gestural genius Judit Reigl (1923, FR born Hungary) with the iconoclastic performance artist Carolee Schneemann (1939, US), who, like Oppenheim, roots her work in Cézanne (albeit from a feminist perspective, as in her book Cézanne, She was a Great Painter [1976]). Matter of Masters includes Schneemann’s Eye Body prints of the 1960s and related hand-tinted versions as well as a video of her legendary Meat Joy performance of 1964, which ingeniously reconstructs Cézanne’s painterly surface in movement. Next to Schneemann, Reigl’s 1970s Drap/décodage (Drape/Decoding), reverse imprints of her "Homme/Man" series of the same period, underscore the innovations of both artists. Schneemann constructs her “painting that moves,” and Reigl takes a risk and abandons brush strokes in favor of an all-in-one transfer that blends printmaking, sculpture, and painting.

Purposefully nonspecific about medium in his renderings of portraits, objects, and scenes, Craigie Horsfield (1949, UK) creates poetic materiality with black and white or color inks on paper, wood, fresco support, or as tapestries. Originating in the camera or in camera-less negatives, his unique liminal prints unsettle our notions of photography and advance the possibilities of futuristic nongestural painting. Hilarius Hofstede (1965, NL) returns to Matter of Masters with his particular hands-off medium: LP cover assemblage. Like his 1990s Ocean in shades of biospheric blue, Reach the Beach, 2017, embraces a unifying color spectrum, in this case light reflective browns (en brunaille). The mural thus washes in references to 12th-century stained glass, 17th-century painting techniques, and 20th-century pop art to bring us to the question of the 21st century’s slipping sands of physical and perceptual security.

TMH’s Masterworks Series
TMH first mapped out contemporary ruptures in materiality and painterly mediums in 2015 through a sequential display of the Art & Project Bulletins 1-156, 1968-1989 covering two decades of the conceptual line of thinking. Matter of Masters continues to examine the experiences that a forward view of painting can accord. The unparalleled creative visionaries in the show take us beyond canvas and brushes to the phenomenal space-time of our joint present.

The Masterworks Series and the exhibition are curated by Marsha Plotnitsky, TMH’s Founding Artistic Director.

About The Merchant House
The Merchant House presents contemporary art projects with sales of art as a funding strategy. Each project, curated by TMH’s Founding Artistic Director Marsha Plotnitsky, brings together an extended exhibition, cultural and research events, and a dedicated catalogue/artist’s book. TMH has showcased international and Dutch innovators, such as Henk Peeters, Jan Schoonhoven, André de Jong, Chuck Close, Carolee Schneemann, Hilarius Hofstede, Craigie Horsfield, Judit Reigl, and Pino Pinelli, as well as young talent. Since it opened its doors in a historical canal house in Amsterdam in 2013, it has become known as a modern take on the Dutch tradition of a merchant—a vibrant art space freely open to the public

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