Shop the Show: German Artist Meuser’s New Sculptures Playfully Critique the Legacy of North American Minimalism


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What You Need to Know: The mononymous German artist Meuser presents 14 recent sculptures in “Close to the Material” at Galerie Nordenhake in Mexico City. Made primarily from crumpled sheets of steel, the assemblage sculptures are dashed with paints in browns, grays, and ochres and supplemented with found industrial materials. A student of Joseph Beuys and a frequent collaborator of Martin Kippenberger in the 1980s, Meuser creates art that sits on the edge of sculpture, painting, and installation. His works are often considered a reevaluation of the material waste left by industrialization, particularly in his native Germany. “Close to the Material” marks the artist’s eighth exhibition with Galerie Nordenhake but his first show at their Mexico City location. 

Why We Like It: Meuser’s sculptures playfully critique North American Minimalism. He assembles prefabricated and found elements in gestures that harken back to collage and objet trouvé. Rather than emphasizing the hardness and resistance of the materials, Meuser instead focuses on the flexibility and softness of his found objects. 

What The Gallery Says: “The titles of the works are very important; they are almost impossible to translate because they suggest a particular humor from an industrial mining area in Germany. The sculptures’ titles form kind of sarcastic narratives. 
It was very interesting for us to translate the titles of some of the sculptures. For instance, the sculpture with the title Pi mal Daumen—there is no way to literally translate the idiom. We attempted to approach the experience it describes instead, and we chose to translate it as ‘rule of thumb’ in English, and ‘A ojo de buen cubero’ in Spanish. Although there is an idea of the untranslatable in Meuser’s work, it was important for us to bring the public closer to the sculptures through translation. It certainly has been very interesting to read and explain Meuser’s work in the Mexican context,” said Hebe Garibay, who curated the exhibition. 

Meuser
Manneken Pis (2020)
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Meuser, Manneken Pis (2020). Courtesy of Galerie Nordenhake.

Meuser, Manneken Pis (2020). Courtesy of Galerie Nordenhake.

Meuser
 Pi mal Daumen (2020)
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Meuser, Pi mal Daumen (2020). Courtesy of Galerie Nordenhake.

Meuser, Pi mal Daumen (2020). Courtesy of Galerie Nordenhake.

Meuser
Untitled (2020)
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Meuser, Untitled (2020). Courtesy of Galerie Nordenhake.

Meuser, Untitled (2020). Courtesy of Galerie Nordenhake.

 

Meuser: Close to the Material” is on view at Galerie Nordenhake, Mexico City, through June 20, 2021.

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