Pino Pinelli, Mary Sue, Elsa Tomkowiak
Painting and Performance

The Merchant House, Amsterdam / Netherlands

May 17–September 15, 2019
May 14, 2019
Opening: May 18, 7–9pm, with artists Elsa Tomkowiak and Mary Sue
Talk: June 23, 3–5pm, with guest speakers TBA
TMH Season Closing Weekend: July 5–7, program TBA

The Merchant House
Herengracht 254
1016 BV Amsterdam

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The Merchant House is pleased to present the leading Italian painter Pino Pinelli joined by two young French artists, Elsa Tomkowiak and Mary Sue. We are also celebrating Elsa Tomkowiak’s site-specific installation for the Amsterdam Sculpture Biennale, ArtZuid 2019, May 17–September 15, 2019.

Works in the exhibition
The show references Pinelli’s encyclopedic retrospective at Palazzo Reale, Milan, 2018, devoted to his 60-year career of innovation. TMH includes a number of the artist’s touchstone paintings from the retrospective along with works from the 1990s to now, marked by his striking color-motivated tactility. Tomkowiak and Mary Sue, representing the emerging generation, are proposing an undaunted response to the master. Pinelli’s words with respect to his works—“color spreads like a luminous emanation”—are equally applicable to the sprawling forms of Tomkowiak: voluminous sculptures and paintings of industrial foam hand-pounded with pigment. Under the guise of her recognizable feminist alter ego, Mary Sue adds her ironic interpretation in color-saturated video, photographs, and drawings.

The collaboration continues TMH’s inquiry into contemporary painting. Its performative nature was first highlighted in a selection from this show at Independent Brussels 2018. The complete version expands the view on how paintings can be at once part of our joint emotional realm and objects on display. In their energetic embodiment of color to reconfigure space—real (for Pinelli and Tomkowiak) and digital (for Mary Sue)—the artists strike against disenchantment, mechanistic thinking, and separateness.

The exhibition is curated by Marsha Plotnitsky, TMH’s Founding Artistic Director.

About the artists
Pino Pinelli (1938, IT) Pinelli is renowned for his “pittura con corpo”, or painting with an “invitation to touch”: rhythmic wall cadences of palpable plaster marked by his signature imprint and color. His work is included in major museum and private collections in Italy and worldwide. His most recent museum exhibition was Pino Pinelli: Painting Beyond the Limit at Palazzo Reale—Gallerie d’Italia, Milan, in 2018, which followed shows at Museo delle Arti, Catanzaro, 2017 and the Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow, 2016. The Palazzo Reale catalogue, edited by Francesco Tedeschi, addresses Pinelli’s unique contribution to contemporary art.

Elsa Tomkowiak (1981, FR) is a painter working with idiosyncratic colors in large-scale installations. Since her graduation from ENSA Dijon (2005), she has had ongoing public commissions: an opera house (Nantes), two bridges (Quebec, CA), a glasshouse (Pougues-les-Eaux), festival participations (Amiens, Varengeville-sur-Mer), as well as a permanent multi-painting installation for a hospital in Angers and a museum-wide intervention at the Château-Musee de Tournon-sur-Rhône in France. She has recently won the commission for a park sculpture in Lyon and has been invited to work in Sweden and the Netherlands.

Mary Sue (established between 1979 and now) uses color to a poignant effect in performances rendered as video, photographs, or sculpture. Under her sobriquet of Mary Sue adopted while at ENSA Dijon, she has had exhibitions in France, Belgium, and Italy and participated in the Art Basel, FIAC, and Art Brussels fairs. Mary Sue’s working method, deploying the most advanced digital means, involves a critical reading of real places and situations through the prism of her cartoonish alter ego. Her vast project on childhood and loss, La Flotte, gained attention at the Art, villes et paysage festival (2017) in Amiens, France.

About The Merchant House
TMH presents contemporary art projects with sales of art as a funding strategy. Each project 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

Program funded by art sales. Entry to exhibitions and events at TMH is free.