© Olav Westphalen

Olav Westphalen
Kotzrohr and Popular Ceramics

The Wilkinson Gallery is pleased to present the first solo show of works by Olav Westphalen who lives and works in New York.

"Kotzrohr" - Kotz: From the verb kotzen: to puke, to throw up; Kotze: the stuff that is thrown up. Rohr: Tube or Pipe. Semantically several collocations possible between asshole and other derogatories and literally/technically a tube through which you kotz; wide poetic range.

Westphalen uses a tragicomic humour to subvert, undermine and question the established ideologies in contemporary art and culture. In his sculptures, drawings, performances and videos, he probes the parallels and differences between high art and craft or mass entertainment and brings to attention questions of authenticity, authorship and power.

In the front space, "Kotzrohr", is a large-scale fibreglass sculpture, based on a cartoon drawing, of a pipe which is spewing an amorphous glob of pink matter, seemingly frozen in mid-air. The faithful translation of a whimsical drawing into a full-size sculpture results in a persistently awkward object, which abides by neither the conventional logic of sculpture nor the rules and economy of cartoon humour. "Kotzrohr" is presented alongside an abstract wall-drawing which, in a different but parallel manner, figures as a credible, even aesthetically pleasing, formal abstraction and, simultaneously, as a parodythereof. This unresolvable oscillation between authentic and enjoyable operations and positions of critical detachment is a common thread in a lot of his work.

In the back and first floor spaces, the sculptures and drawings in the series, "Popular Ceramics", are based on images Westphalen has been been recording over the past months of ceramics fabricated by students at Tyler School of Art, where he is a professor (not in the ceramics department). What he found interesting about this often naive and problematic source material, was the fact that, while it is thoroughly cliched and secondary in idea and imagery, it is also obviously the result of an authentic and urgent desire to express important concepts. There is hollowness and sincerity in the same objects. He has redrawn a number of these found ceramics as large black and white brush drawings. The drawings are grouped around two resin sculptures which he fabricated in what he imagined might be the mindset of a young ceramist. He listed some of the elements that appear most commonly in the ceramics and recombined them for his own, faux-ceramic sculptures.

Olav Westphalen has exhibited widely in museums in Europe and the USA, including Kunsthalle Vienna, Kunstverein Kassel, Kunst-Werke Berlin, Malmo Konsthall, LACE (Los Angeles), The San Diego Museum of Art, PS1 and The Sculpture Center, New York. He has just completed a Public Art Fund Project in Central Park, New York and is currently participating in the Whitney Biennial, 2004.

Exhibition: 6 June - 11 July 2004
Gallery hours: Thu-Sat 11am - 6pm, Sun noon - 6pm, otherwise by appointment

Wilkinson Gallery
242 Cambridge Heath Road,
UK-London E2 9DA
Telephone +44 020 8980 2662
Fax +44 020 8980 0028
Email info@wilkinsongallery.com