Rat Hole Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of work by Andy Hope 1930 on view from March 22 until May 20, 2018. Featuring a suite of new paintings and two 3-D sculptures, the exhibition marks the first time for the artist’s work to be shown in Japan.
Andy Hope 1930 (German, b. 1963, lives and works in Berlin), formerly known as Andreas Hofer, adopted his name in 2010, though his work was signed this way from the beginning of his career. The artist associates the year 1930 with a historic caesura, a turning point in the development of the historical avant-garde that faced onto a series of social, political and artistic crises in European modernity.
1930 is a portal that allows Hope to assume the role of a time-traveler, pursuing and projecting an alien modernity. Working across multiple media, including painting, drawing, sculpture and film, which he often arranges in innovative installations, the artist blazes a new trail through received styles, periodizations and categories. What results is a unique and complex iconography that draws on high and popular cultures, literary and aesthetic tropes, and self- and social constructions. Hope’s fictional universe moves between the debris of history, fantastic utopian ideas and new morphological projections, creating what he refers to as “a mazy infinity.”
For the exhibition at Rat Hole Gallery, Hope’s new works will expand on the representation of the future that the artist started with Vertical Horizon (La Biennale di Venezia 2017) and #believe (Lomex Gallery, New York, 2017). Enlisting motifs from constructivism, Art Nouveau, cosmic phenomena, communication technologies and the financial market, he explores the collective delusions and existential defaults of contemporary society.
In Hope’s new series of abstract paintings, the profane and the metaphysical, the virtuoso and the seemingly primitive, go hand in hand as in #believe II (2018), a painting driven by the forces of gravity that looks into the universe through an ordinary garbage can. We need the old magic (2018) tries to challenge the concept of the “zero point of painting” with a somewhat naive and clumsy depiction of an “electric sheep” in a distorted black square, that also brings to mind Philip K. Dicks iconic sci-fic novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Subprime VI (2017) and Subprime VII (2018) are part of Hope’s CDO-series, named for so-called Collateralized Debt Obligations, portfolios of assets that may include various complexly articulated combinations of bonds, loans, and derivatives. Appropriating the format of diagrams and charts and crossing them with the painterly vocabulary of historical abstraction and the language of subprime ratings, the CDO’s deal with the act of speculation as a promise for the future. The painting entitled Arrival (2018) transforms the ubiquitous signs of everyday communication technology into manifestations of the sublime, claiming a solemnly moment of beginning (or even alien arrival) that echoes a sci-fi-narrative, whereas Sanctuary (2018), a painting that quotes electrical diagrams (circuit boards) as well as organic forms, openly plays with spiritual and religious connotations.
The “transhumanistic spirit” that wanders like a ghost in the paintings is also characteristic of the two sculptures. Combining features of the human body with prosthetic imagery and the pioneering modernism of the sculptor Constantin Brancusi, the “extraterrestrial artifacts” were literally designed as futuristic artworks. Hope has appropriated them from a rather bizarre story (in the comic series Strange Adventures from 1950) whose plot can be described as a kind of sci-fi-artist’s biopic that mixes the unshakable notions of an artist’s career – success, failure and artistic inspiration – with the generic standards of a 1950’s comic tale like time travel, alien threats, and superpowers. The hero of the story is an unsuccessful and uninspired artist who witnesses the sudden appearance of fantastic sculptures in his studio, evolving out of a mysterious flashing light. After becoming the new star of the art world, it soon turns out that the wonderful objects are in fact super weapons coming from the future that accidently “landed” in the past. As the future world faces an alien invasion, the artist has to make a difficult decision – to keep his sculptures and stick to his “fake” career or use them to save the planet.
Like the objects in the comic strip, Andy Hope 1930 undermines the signs of quality, quotes the new and the old, integrates both avant-garde and outdated ideas, and invests in bold “tricks” and profound knowledge. His means to build up a painting are never easy, obvious, or simple, and the same is true for its meaning. Turning the bewildered question of “Where did it come from!” from the artist in the story upside down, it becomes evident that Andy’s Hope 1930’s true intentions will remain hidden from us.