Isa Genzken: Botanical Garden (4 stars)

This article is from 2014

Isa Genzken: Botanical Garden

Eccentric sculptural and collage works from renowned contemporary artist, as part of Edinburgh Art Festival 2014

The frenetic energy that resonates in Isa Genzken’s playful assemblages and eccentric collages has been harnessed by Inverleith House in Botanical Garden, Genzken’s first UK solo show outside of London. The exhibition is both an exhilarating celebration of an artist who has worked tirelessly across mediums and movements, and an opportunity to contemplate the past ten years of her practice.

A room filled with faceless mannequins dressed in bright, trashy clothes and straitjacketed in cling film and metallic tape opens the exhibition. Despite their restrictions they seem to power-walk through the centre of the space. A painting of Donald Duck stacked on storage containers pre-empts a billboard-sized collage where Renaissance paintings are lacquered alongside portraits of the artist and shiny reflective grounds; pools of colour where the audience also emerge.

Upstairs there are two new works selected by Paul Nesbitt and taken straight from Genzken’s Berlin studio. These pastiches of photographs, toy characters, car wing mirrors and gas masks are suffocated by blue spray paint and stacked on top of translucent pillars. The works are poised at angles that force the viewer into awkward positions, mirroring the cumbersome nature of the assemblages.

In one instant these recent pieces appear as excited congregations of form and colour, the next morose tributes of remembrance as obituaries, old newspaper cuttings and photographs of the artist as a young women are unpicked from the debris.

Like each urgent splash of paint, Genzken’s practice swishes quickly and unpredictably between irreverence and seriousness and we’ll never be sure where she intended it to settle.

Inverleith House, 248 2971, until 28 Sep, free.

Isa Genzken: Botanical Garden

  • 4 stars

The work of German sculptor Isa Genzken has been described by the New York Times as 'brash, improvisational, full of searing color and attitude' and this is the first UK exhibition of her work outside London, from the earlier geometric abstractions to the more recent assemblages of consumer goods, shop mannequins and…

David Bussel on Isa Genzken

Curator and freelance writer Bussel talks about the iconoclastic German sculptor Isa Genzken in conjunction with the show of her work at Inverleith House.