Opening: ‘Urs Fischer: Lovers’ at Mexico City’s Museo Jumex

All images: Installation view, Urs Fischer: Lovers, Museo Jumex, 2022
Photo: Stefan Altenburger Photography Zurich © Urs Fischer

When Urs Fischer turned the floor of New York’s Gavin Brown gallery into a massive crater in November of 2007, he was essentially drawing a line in the dirt, almost daring anyone to out-conceptualize him. It was a bit dada in its unflinching sense of provocation…but it was also kind of Situationist, in its sort of meta critique of the bourgeois, consumerist aspects of an increasingly mercenary art market.

After all, what better middle-finger to the art world hierarchy than to lay waste to its very method of presentation and exchange?

He’s dialed it back just a bit since then, clearly understanding the pitfalls of trying to out-conceptualize oneself. But with galleries and museums having been devastated by two years of the widely fatal coronavirus crisis (characterized by the on-and-off halting of in-person experiences), it seemed a particularly good time for Mexico City‘s Museo Jumex to open Urs Fischer: Lovers, a major retrospective surveying more than two decades of making thought provoking art.

It’s actually the Swiss-born artist’s first dedicated solo show in Latin America – and his devoted followers from any continent might want to consider making the pilgrimage, as he’s created a monumental new work specifically for the exhibit. Indeed, The Lovers #2 – a 10-meter-high sculpture in cast aluminum, stainless steel, and gold leaf – stands imposingly above the museum’s outdoor plaza, and appears to visually and viscerally converse with David Chipperfield‘s striking architecture (completed in 2013).

He’s also still got the old conceptual fire, as two new life-size portraits – one of Fundación Jumex Arte Contemporáneo President Eugenio López Alonso – have been cast as candles, and will burn down over the five-and-a-half months period that the exhibition will be on show. On the other side of a deadly global pandemic, and with a terrible war still raging in Ukraine, it is certainly a timely meditation on impermanence.

Each floor contains an attention stealer. On the first, it’s his colossal sculpture Things (2017), which is an authentically sized silver rhinoceros, who appears to be charging on gamely, despite shouldering so much of the consumerist debris of humanity – surely one of the most powerful statements on our malicious callousness towards the natural world. Yet his more whimsical side is on full view one floor up, with the 3000 colorful raindrops of Melody (2019) suspended fantastically in mid-air.

The top floor is then a run through twenty-five years of his creating utterly singular works of art, allowing one a kind of journey through his wild imagination. There’s the mirrored cat of Dr. Katzelberg (Zivilisationsruine) 1999, the mechanical tongue poking through a wall that is Noisette, 2009, and the particularly captivating A Place Called Novosibirsk, 2004, a red balloon enigmatically lifting up the handle of a plain old broom.

Lovers is a beautiful hymn to the energy of life,” enthuses guest curator Francesco Bonami. “To the forces that shape it and that consume it, to the feelings, the emotions and the fears that make life in general, no matter what, a wonderful adventure – a play, or a game with its winners and losers. The goal of this show is to be beautiful, experiential and exciting to watch, a game for the kids in the park to play while the grownups have fun on the side as they watch.”

Urs Fischer: Lovers will be on view at Mexico CIty’s Museo Jumex through September 18.

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