PaperCity Magazine

April 2019- Dallas

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Page 77 of 99

76 I t's funny. Isa Genzken. I think of her a lot — but she is a difficult artist to write about. Anything you start to say about her work immediately sounds trite or cliché. I was going to begin by saying that I originally noticed her work because I thought we shared a kind of magpie sensibility, a mutual attraction to shiny bits of detritus such as silvery, shimmery bits of tinsel and glint from consumer castoff — fool's gold of our disposable society. But to praise the 99-cent-store aesthetic seems an easy wallow in kitsch — safe and entertaining. And I think her work is neither safe nor entertaining. Actually, I think Genzken is a great painter. This is the reason I was first attracted to her. I thought she was a great painter — but then again, I think Man Ray was a great painter. In other words, I tend to find inspiration in those artists who are not the usual suspects. I really wish I had seen Genzken's show at AC Project Room in New York in 2000 titled "Fuck the Bauhaus (New Buildings for New York)." It was before September 11. I think it was, for me, the first art show of the 21st century. It was predictive and descriptive of the way things would come to be. The overbearing and underwhelming collided and became one, and the sound it made was "snuff." Genzken was speaking of a place that was both innovative and hollowed out — a place simultaneously aggressive and fragile, reactionary and libertine, that seemed completely diminished and exaggeratedly expansive. It was the junk space she created that I was interested in. Sometimes I think I actually did attend that show, because I have thought about it a lot ever since. In Genzken, I recognize someone who, like myself, has been seeking a way to ISA GENZKEN: SO MANY THOUGHTS BY CHERYL DONEGAN. PORTRAIT WOLFGANG TILLMANS. The timing was perfect. As we began to explore the oeuvre of German artist Isa Genzken, this year's Nasher Prize Laureate, we couldn't help but look toward New York artist Cheryl Donegan, who just wrapped up an exhibition, "Cheryl Donegan: GRLZ + VEILS" at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and whose show "Cheryl Donegan: Peels" is on view this month at Houston's David Shelton Gallery. There are many parallels between the two artists — Donegan could even be called Genzken's contemporary. Both work in spaces that are at once irreverent, subversive, political, erotic, and ironic. And there is no limit to medium. Genzken smashes together the worlds of textiles, collage, drawing, filmmaking, sculpture, painting, and photography, thus shaping a generation of artists — Donegan included. As Genzken is famously private, scarcely granting interviews, we thought what better way to examine her influence than by letting Donegan wax poetic on the subject. Here, we peer into Donegan's artful mind — and her thoughtful musings on the artist who poignantly stimulates her. Isa Genzken (continued on page 76)

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