John Armleder: Again, Just AgainOct 16, 2021 - Dec 19, 2021

Rockbund Art Museum (20 Huqiu Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai)
Larys Frogier, Billy Tang
John Armleder
Rockbund, Pro Helvetia Shanghai, Swiss Arts Council
  • Rockbund Art Museum is very pleased to present the first major survey exhibition of the renowned Swiss artist John Armleder in China. “Again, Just Again” will be on display from 16 October, 2021 to 19 December, 2021. As the inaugural highly anticipated exhibition after the museum’s major renovation, “Again, Just Again” is a celebration of his influential five decades of work and inspired by the many inter-disciplinary detours in art throughout this journey. The exhibition features an ambitious display of new and existing work such as painting, ready-mades, works created on-site, works on paper, site-specific wall drawings, and archival material. With each floor of the museum, the spaces inside and outside of exhibition halls have been transformed through a unique scenography assembled to guide the audience through a choreography of unexpected encounters and visual experiences.

    Taking the spirit of the artist’s embrace of chance, open-endedness, and collective experimentation, the exhibition is also proud to include collaborations between the artist, the museum, and other practitioners to intervene, translate, and ultimately to extend new associations and meanings in response to different elements of Armleder’s wide-ranging oeuvre. Following the artist’s long curiosity into inviting collaborators outside of the world of art to re-appropriate and completely redefine the order and way of seeing his work, the museum is delighted to commission the acclaimed Shanghai-based photographer, Leslie Zhang, to take authorial direction over an entire exhibition hall on the third floor, transforming the space into a contemplative mis-en-scene, whose spatial and aesthetic design will draw on his own personal language and memories in response to a curated selection of Armleder’s works. Elsewhere on the fifth floor, an ambitious and rare display of the artist’s drawings and experimental works on paper, ranging from pen and ink, watercolor, gouache, acrylic oil and collage, will be installed in conjunction with archival material and a unique site-specific wall drawing, a rich and layered ensemble created especially for the exhibition in conversation with the artist.
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  • With Armleder’s multi-sensorial repertoire of different art-making rules and techniques, compositional questions such as improvisation and order serve as an underlying concern in many works, connect to the artist’s longstanding interest in the history of painting and the evolution of its form. Many of his works push, short-circuit, or collapse the specificity of painting through challenging the conventions that connect the paint, canvas, and stretcher. Actions such as pouring, splashing, and chemical reactions loosen or heighten the level of authorial control by the artist. As Larys Frogier, the Director of Rockbund Art Museum elaborates, “John Armleder always cultivates ambiguous visual and conceptual situations where patterns, colors, objects are very much clinically or rigorously organized, composed, installed, repeated, while they are conveying a strong feeling of uncertainty and visual experience that everything is possible as long as we are available to welcome the chance, the accident, the displacement.” His connection to experimental painting is often in dialogue with other mediums and influences outside of the field of art; sometimes they are traces created from a performance, or arranged together like a visual score, allowing works to be repeated using different materials and in circumstances that create further variation, blurring the separation between the before and after.

    Rather than isolated objects, his paintings and other series of works are regularly presented with other objects, such as furniture, to highlight or contrast their formal qualities, textures, color, or symbolic function as they collide with other media. Therefore, the emphasis of chance takes on a new dimension as a path to go beyond what is expected or easily predicated, giving the chance to escape an arbitrary limit. This approach defines Armleder’s consistent refusal to stay within the margins of one singular style, format, or rule. He joyfully skates between different boundaries of an eclectic range of genres and artistic influences: from Modernism to Constructivism, Op-Art, Pop, Fluxus performances, and abstract or gestural painting. Likewise, the flux between art and everyday life is constantly utilized as a creative energy to cross-fertilize with other influences outside of the field of artworld: from high and low design, avant-garde music, and Hollywood B-movies.
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  • About the artist

    Born in 1948, Geneva, Switzerland, John Armleder has been defining figure across many different fields and discourses related to art through an influential career that has continually involved interchanging fluidly between the roles of painter, performance artist, sculptor, archivist, collector, curator, editor, and sometimes gallery owner. In 1969, he co-founded the group ECART (écart means “gap,” “interval,” “divergence” in French) in the spirit of the Fluxus movement. During the 1970s and 1980s, ECART were prolific as a bridge between Switzerland and the outside world, which involved a prolific output of multi-faceted activities and collaborations with a large number of leading artists of the era, including Joseph Beuys and Andy Warhol. Exhibitions and performances were participatory and experimental, created at a time with a strong collective desire to transform the world. The structure of ECART functioned as a hybrid alternating between functions as a publishing house, bookstore, and gallery, a pioneering model whose influence provided a vital blueprint for ideas still used in institutions and alternative spaces today.

  • About the collaborator

    Leslie Zhang is a photographer based in Shanghai. Born in 1992, Zhang’s photographic works is devoted to examine and reinterpret Chinese contemporary culture with concrete traditional inheritance and poetic new narratives.

    Fashion work by Leslie has been published in international and domestic publications including Vogue, Marie Claire, T Magazine, LOVE and in close cooperation with world-wide fashion brands naming Gucci, Prada, Thom Browne, Moncler, etc. The photographer is included in the 2019 editions of BoF 500 and Dazed 100, the global searches of leaders and talents shaping our culture today. He is included by Forbes Asia in a 30 under 30 list for the arts.

  • Postponement Announcement: Rockbund Art Museum Re-Opening

    We wish to announce that the re-opening date of the museum has now been delayed until October this year. With RAM’s long-standing commitment to enhancing the highest quality museum experience for our audience, the new date will enable the institution to achieve an ambitious renovation that will serve to safeguard and support the long-term needs of our community. We are excited to re-open the doors of the museum on 16 October, with Again, Just Again, a solo exhibition by the renowned artist John Armleder, the exhibition will last till 19 December, 2021.

    Meanwhile, the museum is dedicated to working fully towards the preparation of welcoming audiences, patrons, and the local and international art community who have supported our museum through throughout the years to a new period of its history. We look forward to refining, developing and extended the possibilities of the museum’s architecture to house new experiences, including a newly interior concept based on concepts of sustainability that will invite visitors to relax, enjoy, and explore new panoramas and areas of the building such as a newly opened café and roof-top terrace garden.

    We would also like to apologize for the inconvenience caused by this delay. For members of the audience who have already purchased tickets for the exhibition on third-party platforms, you can visit the exhibition directly with this original ticket upon the re-opening of the new date without needing to replace the ticket. If you require a refund, please contact the platform you purchased the ticket from directly. We look forward to receiving you again at the newly-renovated Rockbund Art Museum!

    Related to our upcoming projects, Adel Abdessemed solo exhibition “The Perfume of Disease” and the solo exhibition by Trinh T. Minh-ha, “Going into the Dark” will also be postponed, please stay tune to us. Besides, RAM will initiate a series of research projects during the second half of the year. Khek Dhang Ke is a long-term platform with a focus on the vicissitudes of the communities and locals in the local Bund area, which will present an exhibition “Centennial History of the Bund at Khek Dhang Ke”. For the 2021 iteration of CPA (Curatorial Practices in Asia), the museum will invite and collaborate with Dubai based artist and curator Lantian Xie to develop a multi-platform ecosystem, which deploys the form of writing, playlist, podcast, and site-specific performance. RAM Conversation (Season One) will also launch by the end of the year. This project invites past and future RAM HIGHLIGHT artists in conversation with RAM to document their thoughtful reflections on making performative practices.

    See you soon!



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