Navigating the concept of the body as well as domestic and everyday elements, the group of about 40 works explores architectural notions, which the artist regards from a sculptural point of view, as well as "the transformative nature of the sculpture in its many incarnations", as the curator points out. The artist’s famous corpulent sculptures are present: Fat House (2003), the inflated bright red Ferrari Fat Convertible (2004) and works from the series The Artist Who Swallowed the Word (2006).
This group of anthropomorphic and obese works introduces some biological attributes to the art object, such as the act of consuming, making it then capable of "filling" its own interior. Following this logic, works involving food are also present—such as the chubby sausages that mimic human activities from the series Abstract Sculptures (Sitting Big), 2014 and Big Kiss, 2015; the installation with 37 painted acrylic cucumbers on pedestals, Self-Portrait as Pickles, created in 2008 and presented in several countries since then, and Spit on Someone's Soup (2003).
"I understand that the raw material of any sculpture is energy and the unit of measurement for energy, which is the calorie, is the same element that will alter the shape, volume, and density of the materials. And these will explore the resignification of our own corporeal energy in works of symbolic art, challenging the notion of performance, sculpture and art," says Marcello Dantas.
As a development of his investigations of architectural structures, Wurm also looks to their interior where he sees the universe of domestic objects that he deforms and resizes. Examples of these are works such as the melted shelf made of bronze and patina, Dodge (2012), the chair stamped in a block, Angst / Lache Hochgebirge, and Toilet made of compressed wood and resin (both of 2014), the exaggeratedly huge clock, Lost (2015), the cabinet that seems to have been bashed in, First Ascent—North Wall (2016), among others.
This group of works is completed by the "One-Minute Sculptures," created in the 1990s, in which spectators themselves become sculptures, following instructions left by Wurm. These suggest that the subject remain in different positions for one minute, whether wearing a garment or positioning his head inside a cabinet, thus creating ephemeral shapes that soon disperse, like a kind of unscheduled performance. Thirteen videos—scattered throughout unexpected areas of the CCBB such as bathrooms, corridors and elevators—will be presented, along with a large intervention on the façade of the building.
Experiencing the works of Erwin Wurm elicits delight and a sense of humor in the spectator. The humor, according to the artist, prompts the subject to look at things more carefully and, therefore, with a more active involvement, such that both (humor and spectator) have turned out to be the most important ingredients of his artistic gesture.
"For a period of time, I tried to find the fastest way to express myself, and this reflects my belief in directness. It's the same kind of directness you find in comics, an element I often use in my work," Wurm summarizes. While many artists focus on making banality difficult, the Austrian artist is interested in turning the difficulty into something light and accessible.
About Erwin Wurm
He was born in Bruck an der Mur, Austria (1954), where he lives and works in the cities of Vienna and Limberg. The artist will be present at the 57th Venice Biennale, in 2017, with the exhibition entitled Light Pavilion. It will be the fourth time he has participated in this Biennial. He has been the subject of solo exhibitions at world-renowned institutions such as the Museum für Moderne Kunst (Berlin), Museum der Moderne (Salzburg), MACRO—Museo d’Arte Contemporanea (Rome), Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney), Peggy Guggenheim Collection (Venice), Palais de Tokyo (Paris), Fundación Joan Miró (Barcelona), The Photographers Gallery (London), MAK—Center for Art and Architecture (Los Angeles), and Städel Museum (Frankfurt). He has participated in dozens of collective exhibitions, including the most important biennials such as Venice (four times), Lyon, Seville, Lüttich, Bucharest, Taipei, Liverpool, Montreal, Sydney and São Paulo, among others.