Last week I paid a visit to the Jordan/Seydoux Gallery, located on the charming Auguststraße in Berlin’s city center, to see their latest exhibition “Neu-Neue Nationalgalerie; Homage to Francois Morellet (1926-2016)”. The Neue Nationalgalerie is closed until 2019 but Neu-Neue Nationalgalerie?! Struck by the title of the show, I grabbed a copy of the press release to inform myself about the curation and the idea behind it. It turned out this Jordan/Seydoux show was an homage to the French artist’s first German retrospective “Images and Light Objects” at the Neue-Nationalgalerie in 1977. Jordan/Seydoux had tried to emulate this show on a much smaller scale obviously—an original idea to say the least.
Upon walking into the small space, I was presented with six works of roughly 50 x 50 cm, mounted back-to-back, all hanging from the ceiling on three receding planes. In 1977 Morellet’s pieces were also hung from the ceiling in this manner, pointing to the fact that there was no need for walls for his works to be hung, and to further his game of playing with lines and angles to warp perspectives. To the left, taking up an entire wall, was a photo the 1977 exhibition. Although the original show appeared more impressive, Jordan/Seydoux’s nod to it was clever and humorous nonetheless.
Although, Morellet’s interest lay more in the method of construction than in the final visual result, the gallery didn’t seem to address this. There were no signs, no clear direction or apparent chronology to the exhibition, so I moved around the space randomly to admire the rest of the works.
The artist’s obsession with geometry and grids was apparent throughout. Some of his canvases appeared extremely crowded, the grids tight, brightly colored with geometric shapes peering out from behind, forming something of an optical illusion. Other works consisted of much simpler, monochrome compositions. The highlight of these grids was the one hung near the entrance; a small, discrete canvas with wire grids piled on top of eachother, the entirety painted in opaque black. Albeit ultra-simple, the use of wire grids appeared to me as a minimalist, very elegant take on assemblage art, which illustrated a certain variety in Morellet’s body of work that I admired.
François Morellet works exhibited. Left to Right: 2 doubles trames 1°-2°, 1965, Sans Titre (2 double trames épaisses 45°-90°), 1971, Chartres- bleu violet, 1973. Courtesy: Jordan/Seydoux Drawings & Prints
Another highlight was Morellet’s Ondes Parasites 3 hung on the back wall of the gallery. Two screen prints of thin, distanced curved lines that juxtaposed over each other. Again a minimalist work, stripped back of the complexity of his gridded works but with a stunning geometrical abstraction archetypal of Morellet’s oeuvre.
Whilst there could have been a greater effort to create a more comprehensive direction to view the works, and perhaps a larger selection of his later works, the purity, and classic elegance of Francois Morellet’s art is hard not to like, and credit must go to Jordan/Seydoux for managing to tastefully display so many works in such a small space.