January 29–April 2, 2016
David Lamelas has been an iconic figure in conceptual art for over fifty years. In the 1960s and 1970s, his early experiments in structuralist film and media installations evolved an on-going exploration of a number of core conceptualist concerns. For his fourth solo show with Sprüth Magers, he brings together a range of important film and sculptural works dating from 1966 to 1993 that thrive with antagonisms of space and language, the limit of art’s temporality, as well as its potential for providing new models of knowledge and self-awareness. In addition, a thoughtful reconsideration of his 1970s ‘Reading Films’ is presented in a new multimedia installation, Mon Amour (2014).
This recent installation is exhibited in the first room. The left and right-hand walls bear a series of charcoal drawings whilst a projector screen stands at the far end. It features a filmed view of a screenplay. As the film steadily scrolls through the blurred text, only the words Elle (her) and Lui (him) are legible within the vague outline of a dialogue. Lamelas has seemingly reversed the developmental process of a narrative film – from work of literature, to screenplay, to cinematic form. He deconstructs the script in its original written state, obscuring its narrative function so that its meaning derives from its presentation as a purely linguistic and spatial structure. As a notion of cinematic ‘reading’, Lamelas transforms the way knowledge is typically perceived within an exhibition context. The single bulbs illuminating each charcoal drawing emit the soft light of a candle to evoke a hallowed atmosphere. The works are made as wall drawings on projection tissue and are created on-site by the artist. The words quote street graffiti on the subject of war and the perception of language. The viewer is left wondering whether they also refer to the concealed narrative of the screenplay.
Untitled (Falling Wall) (1993) and Corner Piece (1966) stage sculptural interventions within the exhibition space. Untitled (Falling Wall) is a colossal twenty by seven metre wall. Three layers of wooden joists and beams increasing in size are angled down from the wall to the floor preventing the wall from collapsing into the gallery space. The beams dissect the interior space into anatomical sections that disturb the holistic volume of the ‘white cube’. Both sculptures evidence the artist’s observation that artworks are often legitimised by the context in which they are displayed.