Galerie Guido W. Baudach is pleased to present Erik van Lieshout’s The Beer Promoter, the artist’s fourth solo show with the gallery. The opening on September 13th, 2019 also marks the inauguration of the gallery’s new premises.
The exhibition circles around Van Lieshout’s most recent film Beer (HD, color, sound, 35 minutes), which documents the inner conflict of the artist that arises from the nomination for the prestigious Dr. A. H. Heineken Prize for Art in 2018. The footage shot over the course of the year chronicles the wildly unpredictable saga that unfolds. Receiving the prestigious and well remunerated award, which is granted every two years by the homonymous beer company to five international scientists and one Dutch artist (almost always a mid-career one), leads to a course of existential questions by the 50 years old Van Lieshout. The varied cast of personalities and locations in Beer ruminates on various issues: art, aging, money, politics, charity, diplomacy, integrity, and, of course, the many sides, both good and bad, of beer. As quite usual Van Lieshout takes up the role of clever jester. Always being a step ahead of all the others and using every small cause to enlarge it for art’s sake. However a major multinational company group proofs to be a hard one to tackle. The pivotal event of the film is when Van Lieshout, forgetting that everything is now online, makes offhand comments about a Heineken scandal in Africa to a reporter from a small regional newspaper, causing anger at corporate headquarters. Previously praised and awarded by the Prize jury for his radical, political work, he suddenly finds himself in a complicated web of apology, fear, crisis, and corporate identity. “If no one is naive anymore, then it’s no fun”, Van Lieshout cries. He wonders if he should even accept the prize; ultimately, he does - with a PR-induced hangover.
Accompanied by a group of some smaller collages and a series of large scale charcoal-drawings on paper the exhibition stages a single sculpture in the form of a blown up Heineken beer can, which took part in a street performance Van Lieshout did at last year’s Wiesbaden Biennial. Some sequences from video recordings of this performance pop up in Beer. While the collages refer to the brand Heineken as well, the drawings, vertical self portraits, a bit larger than human size, are contrasting the twisted merchandising. Non-compromising nude studies balancing between poignant realism and plain caricature. Here the jester seems to have been vanished. As if Van Lieshout looks at himself in the mirror, strips himself down asking: Who is this middle-aged white man who is an artist? What does he have to say? The New York Times writes about Beer: “It all raises the question if artists can still be social critics, tricksters and renegades when they’re accepting corporate money. And beneath that is another, more universal question: Is this the twilight of idols, the last gasp of Great White Men dominating art and life?”
Erik van Lieshout, born 1968 in Deurne, the Netherlands, lives and works in Rotterdam. He has participated in numerous international exhibitions including: Weil ich nun mal hier lebe, MMK, Frankfurt, 2018/19; Bad News, Wiesbaden Biennale, Germany, 2018; 30 years Heineken Prize for Art, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, 2018; Deutschland ist keine Insel, Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn, 2018; LOOK! New Acquisitions, Albertina, Vienna, 2017 ; Bye Bye de Stijl, Centraal Museum, Utrecht, 2017; Revolution in Rotgelbblau - Gerrit Rietveld und die zeitgenoessische Kunst, Marta Herford, 2017; Mentales Gelb. Sonnenhoechststand, Works from the KiCo Collection, Lenbachhaus, Munich and Kunstmuseum Bonn, 2017; Unfinished Conversations, MOMA, New York, 2017; Suendenbock, Kunstverein Hanover, 2017 (solo); Kochi-Murziris Biennial, Fort Kochi, India, 2016; The show must Ego on, WIELS, Brussels, 2016 (solo); Drawing. The Bottom Line, S.M.A.K., Belgium, 2015; 5th Thessaloniki Biennial of Contemporary Art, 2015; Meisterzeichnungen: 100 Jahre Grafische Sammlung, Kunsthaus Zurich, 2015; Manifesta 10, St. Petersburg, 2014; The Crime Was Almost Perfect, Witte de With, Rotterdam, 2014; Superficial Hygiene, De Hallen, Haarlem, Netherlands, 2014; PLAY TIME, Biennale d’art contemporain, Rennes, France, 2014; The Encyclopedic Palace, Venice Biennial, 2013; Commission, MMK, Frankfurt, 2012 (solo); Manifesta 9, Genk, Belgium, 2012; The Living Years: Art after 1989, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2012; Erik makes Happy, BAWAG Contemporary, Vienna, 2011 (solo); Im Netz, Ludwig Museum, Cologne, 2009 (solo); The Assistant, Centre d’édition contemporaine, Geneva, 2009 (solo); Homeland Security, Lenbachhaus, Munich, 2007 (solo); Guantánamo Baywatch, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, 2007 (solo).