Hauser & Wirth Gallery

When asked to write a review of an exhibition, the writer is asked to look into his/her pool of knowledge on a particular subject and, taking an impartial view (if this is ever possible), write an informative text. He/she is asked to examine the works on show and decide whether objectively the show or the artist have accomplished the difficult task of making us want to visit the exhibition.

Whether the writer enjoyed himself or not, liked the work or not (on a personal, non-rational level) should not take too much weight when he/she finally sits down to write. The review otherwise becomes an expression of a personal opinion – and since we are all entitled to one, completely useless in terms of its objectivity.

It is for this reason, that I find it difficult to write this review, for I did not enjoy the show one bit. Under the risk of sounding like Brian Sewell – someone who lets his uninformed personal views shine through “impartial” reviews – I don’t see how else to describe this show.

Apparently, Ida Appleboorg likes to call herself a “generic” artist. What does this mean when you show up at a gallery full of paintings? Is she trying to disassociate herself with painters or painting? Does she have an un-painterly body of work that is not on display here? Does it matter?

I think what matters is the work rather than the name, and in this case the work doesn’t do it for me. The show is very well curated – the museography invites you to walk around the paintings, more like going around gravestones in a cemetery than two-dimensional objects in a gallery. However, that’s all I have to say about the paintings. The titles of the works, hermetic as the rest of the exhibition, reveal nothing more.

Perhaps it’s her work that can be called generic – in the sense that when you have seen one painting, you have seen them all.

There is another room, showing a work called Monalisa – a wooden structure resembling a room, the walls covered in drawings of vaginas and concealing a very disturbing painting of what looks like a woman with the body of a deformed child. Again, perhaps it is my lack of a deeper understanding of her work but I find this piece slightly uncomfortable and highly uninteresting.

As an artist, there isn’t much I can recommend of her work on display, and this is an entirely personal opinion. For me the pieces that stand out the most are Trintiy Towers and Mercy Hospital, two dyptichs that rather cleverly conceal the subjects of the paintings and with an almost humorous approach remind us that the things that happen “behind closed doors” no longer remain such, in this contemporary society of vigilance and the voyeur.