Edward Lipski: Bobadillia / Suzie Q Projects, Zurich

Within the framework of the Suzie Q projects, Birgid Uccia and Bob van Orsouw present a solo show with the sculptural works of Edward Lipski. Lipski was born 1966 in London, where he studied at the Chelsea College of Art and Design. The current exhibition presents, among others, the sculpture “King”, which recalls an Egyptian statuette coated in gold leaf, with a face covered in voluminous artificial black hair that looks like the Black Panther hairstyles of the 1970s. Suzie Q, Zurich, Opening, August 24, 2007.
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Press Release: The exhibition title “Bobadillia” was chosen for its onomatopoetic sound. We almost feel we are back in “Gulliver’s Travels” and the fantastical land of Houyhnhnms inhabited by a strange animal, the Yahoo. Yahoos are hybrid creatures; their horse physiques come equipped with human reason and sign language. In analogy, Lipski’s animal sculptures very often possess human characteristics and therefore oscillate “between the grotesque and the magical, the fearful and the comforting.” The artist makes his animals out of different materials, thereby subjecting recognizability so long to distortion till the state of “perfect wrongness” is reached. Thus he created a life-sized crocodile lying on its back with human female sex characteristics and presented her on a black leather couch that served as a pedestal.
“Bobadillia” not only stands for our exhibition but for Lipski’s artistic universe, which lies beyond the boundaries of one-dimensional categories and meanings. Through the use of found objects, the complex reworking of the surface and the virtuoso distortion of the forms, the artist creates sculptures that only partly submit to a verbal discourse: “What I want to capture is something that we do not have a name for.”
Thus the sculpture “King” recalls an Egyptian statuette coated in gold leaf whose face is entirely covered in voluminous artificial black hair that, for its part, looks like the Black Panther hairstyles of the 1970s. If the human and animal characteristics of his animal sculptures were mutated just so far that an identification remained possible, in the “Bobadillia” exhibition works dominate that seem to be an amalgam of different cultures. The materials and forms he uses have cultural connotations and an origin in the collective memory, whose mnemonic space reaches across the eras of human history.
The sculpture “Chinese Gods” is composed of a circular arrangement of Asiatic porcelain deities. The artist has pressed the upper part of their bodies into a towering pyramid that is made up of symbols from Chinese mythology. As for the sculpture “African Mask Child”, its fetish-like materials remind us of a ritual object from an African ethnic tribe which seems to be magically ensouled. What is apparent here is an association with trophies that western colonizers, under the sign of civilization’s triumphant progress, took to exhibiting in private and public collections. The fact that Lipski stages his sculptures like showpieces on careful selected pedestals allows the thought of such collections to surface, but with this also a critical reading of the same. For, with the appropriation of the pictorial vocabulary of other cultures, it is not only different reference systems that are brought into relationship. The artist also points to the unfathomable that still exists in our civilization, which we believed the Enlightenment had overcome. Lipski speaks here of “primitive versions of civilization”. With this he seems to consider that violence, repression and exploitation are still mainstays of our society and so legitimizes – artistically and authentically – Theodor Adorno’s dictum “that horror and civilization are inseparable” .
Birgid Uccia

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