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Ceal Floyer

Schöneberger Ufer 65
November 6–December 19

Ceal Floyer, Mutual Admiration, 2015, speakers, stands, audio, 56 x 33 x 17".

Ceal Floyer’s practice consists of tiny gestures that consistently add up to a sum of intrigue and joviality. There are only five works in her current exhibition, and they’re enough. The show is all about boundaries: so much fun to trespass, so confusing in their essential arbitrariness. One is a row of small black rectangular objects running all the way across the floor, forming a mini wall. Are they dominos? We assume so, given the title, Domino Effect (all works 2015), and their appearance in profile, though we cannot see their faces to confirm that they have dots, as they are packed in a tight line from one wall to another. In a simple reversal, over the white windows of the gallery are installed black powder-coated steel Bars. Normally, such bars would be on the outside, preventing potential intruders. Now, we can’t get out. A slight panic sets in, and so we turn ourselves around to confront some more boundaries.

On one wall is Contacts, a suite of drawings made by rendering people’s contact numbers stored in the artist’s phone into strange geometrical lines and shapes. Translation as obfuscation: The numbers can barely be deciphered, let alone dialed. In another room is the incessant clapping sound of Mutual Admiration, wherein two speakers on stands are face to face—lovers about to make out, the clapping ping-ponging endlessly between them. The room is otherwise empty, save for a single Saw sticking out from the floor with a line drawn to form a nearly full carved circle, though the gag is obvious—the carve is clearly drawn on with some sort of marker. What a show. Indeed, Ceal Floyer is a savvy swayer, a maven cracker of aesthetic one-liners that burn with a sustained snap.

Travis Jeppesen

Johnny Miller

Markgrafenstrasse 68
November 17–January 9

Johnny Miller, Head Garden, 2014, ink on paper, 59 x 55".

Through ink drawings, watercolors, and collages, the British-born, Tokyo-based artist Johnny Miller combines a cartoonish way of drawing figures with gestures from Expressionism, Surrealism, art brut, and other styles. The drawing Head Garden, 2014, for instance, presents a complex state of mind. From the head in the center of the composition a myriad of organic forms develops, possibly standing for both fearful and pleasant thoughts and the mental projections of the depicted figure.

In absurd, sometimes cruel scenes, human beings transform or extend into architecture, landscape, and dynamic abstract forms. The material world here seems in a liquid state, or ready to bend. Noteworthy is the presence of many animals, such as snail, bear, and donkey, and one wonders if they are separate beings or just different manifestations of the human protagonists, or of the artist himself. Apart from thirteen large works in the main exhibition space there are twenty-five small drawings and collages on display, all made in the past three years.

Another remarkable work is the drawing Landscape after John Martin, 2015, showing an abstract formation in black and white with just a few figurative elements added, notably an eye in the lower right-hand part looking out. Miller’s works are not just complex psychological images to view; they also look back at us, presenting a tragicomic mirror of life.

Jurriaan Benschop

Peter Stauss

Markgrafenstraße 67
November 7–December 19

Peter Stauss, Dutch Master (Menu), 2015, oil on plywood, 87 x 67".

Peter Stauss’s latest exhibition features a recurring figure he calls the Dutch Master, which, with his wide-brimmed hat, may or may not be a reference to Vincent van Gogh. This is less an art-historical gag, though, than a vehicle with which the artist might move through the static formats of painting and sculpture, positing the body as an ever-morphing entity that is reinvented each time it finds itself being depicted. In Dutch Master (Menu) (all works cited, 2015), one of the four large-scale oil paintings on plywood displayed here, parts of the artist-figure’s body have been blasted apart yet retain some functions: His horselike head consumes Coca-Cola nasally through a straw while holding the stub of a joint between his toes. Dutch Master (Dusche) dramatizes the act of painting, referencing the work of another Dutch master along the way—a scrawny, Mondrianesque canvas is inserted on the right-hand side—though the reptilian form the artist’s body takes here is more Francis Bacon meets Marvel Comics.

In addition to those four paintings, the Dutch Master reappears in a series of thirteen small bronze sculptures patinated black. With their sharp points and skinny, phallic forms, they effectively echo the gestures of violent jerking so often found in the paintings; the sort of acceleration that directly precedes a decline. Perhaps a commentary on the rhythm of the world we find ourselves in today.

Travis Jeppesen

Athanasios Argianas

Bülowstrasse 90
September 17–December 5

Athanasios Argianas, Silence Breakers Silence Shapers (Aberrations on Percussion) Series, Wall, 2015, electroformed copper, electroformed brass-plated copper, mussel shells, cast bronze, ceramic tiles, fired ceramic, laser-etched finger cymbals, 37“ x 13' x 39”.

In Athanasios Argianas’s Silence Breakers Silence Shapers (Aberrations on Percussion) Series, Wall, 2015, two L-shaped tiled benches are built into the sides of a long white ledge with dark, sandy grouting—the kind of bench you might find at a public bathhouse or along the Mediterranean coastline. Offsetting the anonymity of the clinical white grid are iridescent mussel shells splayed open, shucked, cleaned, and sprinkled across the tiled surface alongside more weighty, scraggy oysters cast in brass. Also included are a series of finger cymbals with engraved poetic directives such as “Scrape the ground with this disc, make a sound with your wrist.” Reading the words on these small instruments delivers a fleeting moment of auditory synesthesia: the imagined sound of metal clacking across the ceramic surface or clawing along the linoleum floor. On one end of the bench a woven straw sun hat cast in copper is perched upright, with creases and folds from use, as if frozen in time. On the other end is an upturned bronze Panama hat filled with even more mussel shells, as if the ghost of Marcel Broodthaers had already come and gone.

Harmonious sculptures from the 2015 series “Consonants as Noise,” made of curved brass piping pinned to the walls in mirrored variations, are displayed in the next room. The pipes are muted in stillness, resembling partial silhouettes of wind instruments held afloat. Each austere pairing hosts the unsung whispers of a unique mollusk, whose projected callings come full circle in the sculpture Clock Sequencer 1, 2012, mounted on the facing wall, where glasses of water perched around a steel ellipse evoke their longing to return to the sonorous motion of the sea.

Arielle Bier