© André Niebur

André Niebur: detail of the installation "Bona to vada"
at the Kunstverein Düsseldorf, 2007
photo: Yun Lee

André Niebur
Bona to vada

Charles Avery
Maquette for 'The Eternity Chamber, from the Palace of the Gulls'

ARQUEBUSE is proud to present the first solo commercial exhibition by André Niebur, following the success of his 5 day solo installation at the Kunstverein Dusseldorf in April this year also entitled "Bona to vada".

Furthermore, timed to coincide with the nearby Lyon Biennial 2007 where Charles Avery will present his monumental sculpture "The Eternity Chamber, from the Palace of the Gulls", Avery will present the intricate maquette and related drawings to this work in the basement gallery "La Cabine".

André Niebur "Bona to vada"
The title is taken from the secret language of Polari (or Palare) used widely in Great Britain through the early and mid 20th century in the gay subculture to disguise homosexual activity from potentially hostile outsiders. It would be used as a means of cover, to allow gay subjects to be discussed aloud without being understood; on the other hand, it was also used by the visibly camp and effeminate as a further way to assert their identity. Literally translated, "Bona to vada" means "Good to see" as a form of greeting but in this context suggests a celebration of "seeing" the world.

André Niebur's paintings capture the lines and colours of scenes in movement. They are directly figurative but impossible to read since all we are left with are abstract marks; flashes of turquoise, mustard and orange or a few parallel coloured lines. In some cases the figurative source of these paintings is more clearly suggested with an abundance of "flesh pink", but in others it might be the lines of a building or telegraph pole in an urban landscape. Niebur's paintings operate as a process of erasure of what has been seen, while simultaneously joyously engaging with its beauty. They are a secret language and never allow full disclosure of where the artist's glance has fallen.

Furthermore, these paintings refuse easy categorisation as wall-based works, and occasionally liberate themselves into installations with wooden constructions suggestive of film-sets, protest banners, or balance precariously on roughly fashioned stilts as if going on parade. As the viewer's eye begins to take in the details a green ribbon is found tied to a piece of wood precisely echoing the green of a painting; the ends of three wooden beams have each been dipped into pots of paint so that their ends are saturated with colour, and each is placed too uniformly to be random, their distance and relationship to one another exactly echoing the dimensions of a domestic staircase.

Based in Düsseldorf, André Niebur (b. 1973) studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf from 1994-2002 and has exhibited at Adeline Morlon art direction, Düsseldorf (2006), and the Kunstverein Düsseldorf in April 2007 as part of "Städtische Bühne". Niebur is also a member of the acclaimed collective "hobbypopMUSEUM" which has exhibited widely at, among others, the Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art, Israel (2007); Deitch Projects, New York (2005); Deste Foundation, Athens (2005); Foksal Gallery Foundation, Poland (2004); Galerie Ghislaine Hussenot, Paris (2003); Tate Britain, London (2003).

© Charles Avery

Charles Avery: sketch of "Eternity Chamber, from the Palace of the Gulls", 2007

Charles Avery "Maquette for 'The Eternity Chamber, from the Palace of the Gulls'"

The "Palace of the Gulls" takes us further into the epic project "The Islanders" that will finally culminate in an encyclopaedia in several large leather-bound volumes, describing the topology and cosmology of an imaginary island. Every element of this island or planetary sphere, from its geology to its inhabitants, flora and fauna, and systems of belief, embodies a philosophical proposition, problem or solution.

In this chapter we are told the history of a cult that has developed around an ancient madman whose followers believe has been told the secret of eternity from a speaking Seagull, the incarnation of an unworldly being called Miduso. At the centre of the cult of the Palace of the Gulls is a chamber built to allow its followers to also attain eternal secrets. Avery describes the chamber as follows:

"A hexagonal prism a good deal taller that a man, and wide from point to point just so little as to make it uncomfortable to lie down. The floor and ceiling are tessellated with equilateral triangular glass tiles of different colours, that repeat their design into eternity being reflected in each internal facet of the chamber by back painted glass derived of the finest kelp. Lights are concealed within the dome and base of the chamber that illuminate its interior when one is closed inside, an experience which is guaranteed to render one 'like the man'.

"Several acolytes have taken the plunge. When one does, a ceremony is performed with great solemnity, which culminates in the subject being closed in the chamber for only a matter of seconds before being released. The results are on first appearances compelling, for the subject emerges in a trance like state, insensible to everything around them, yet with eyes wide open staring into the near distance. Yet I fear this is a very different madness from that of the man, for whereas he seems able to successfully navigate himself through the physical world, his imitators do not and within days walk into some fatal situation, either off a cliff or drowning in a bog. They become so accident prone that it is impossible to verify whether or not they have achieved a remarkable biological longevity. Nevertheless there is always another applicant who believes themselves to be different, who wouldn't be so stupid as to walk off a cliff."

Charles Avery is currently working towards a major solo exhibition at parasol unit, London in 2008. In 2007 Charles Avery has been included in the Scottish Pavilion of the 52nd Venice Biennale, the "Triennale Bovisa" TIMER, Milan, the Athens Biennial, and the Biennale de Lyon. Avery was born in 1973, Oban, Scotland and currently lives and works in London.

Exhibition 13 September - 27 October 2007

Gallery hours Tues-Fri 2 - 7 pm, Sat 11 am - 5 pm,
and by appointment

rue de l'Arquebuse 14
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