Echo - Jake Chapman, Tony Matelli, Cajsa von Zeipel: Stockholm

30 May - 29 June 2024
Andréhn-Schiptjenko Stockholm is delighted to present Echo, a new group exhibition with artists Jake Chapman, Tony Matelli, and Cajsa von Zeipel. The exhibition will feature recent sculptures by each artist including a tapestry by Chapman. Among these, a sacred snowman, an extraordinary life-sized self-portrait, and a modern-day Madonna. The opening takes place Thursday, 30 May, between 17:00 - 20:00.
The myth of Narcissus and Echo, immortalized in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, braids together the three featured artists in a tale of individualism. Narcissus fell in love with his reflection, an unbodied hope, finding substance in what was only shadow. Echo, the ill-fated nymph, was cursed to say the last thing she heard and nothing further. She died pining after Narcissus but her voice lived on, ever echoing the words of others and the environment her spirit haunted. The exhibited sculptures and tapestry are anti-memorials, totems, relics, reflecting uncomfortable truths about an individualistic society and disrupting conventional narratives, ultimately echoing the current human condition.
Jake Chapman, former half of the iconic Chapman Brother duo, is a British artist accomplished in provocation and raising questions about the experience of viewing art through his iconoclastic works ranging from sculpture to installation. In Echo, Chapman's sculpture and textile pair blend elements of carved wooden figures reminiscent of early English paganism with messaging that prompts reflection on the contradictions inherent in the concept and industry of wellbeing.
Sacred Relics from the Neoliberalithic Era, Chapman’s sculpture of a white snowman pierced with brightly colored plastic straws, spoons, and rusted nails could be a neo-rural fertility figure. A carrot-like nose and phallic appendage protrude from the wooden body. Windchimes and a beaded metal hanger dangle in the air, virtue signaling a new-age culture of wellness. As a white snowman pierced with nails, Chapman’s sculpture elicits the phrase “kill the white man”, falling in line with three decades of the artist’s practice meant to stir social taboos. The controversial phrase has been championed by select radical feminists and anti-white supremacists but can also infer the death of old paradigms and systems that promote individualism and self-interest such as capitalism and paleoconservatism. The snowman attribute is a salient nod to the current climate crisis characterized by melting ice caps; the death of the snowman.
At first glance, Chapman’s patchwork tapestry of scrambled zig zags and colorful dots, featuring a large red and green-eyed smiley with a sunny yellow grin, resembles something that could hang in a community center or child’s room. But on further inspection, the blackened words set on bands of white, rattle the initial read of crafty memorabilia. “The Unwellness of Wellbeing” looms large, intimating the dark comedy that is society's idea of wellness. Today, the mind, spirit, and body have merged under a banner of commodified health. It’s about the perfect blend of marketed supplements and 3 for 1 crystals to soothe the triad of human existence. The slogan also posits the pointlessness of human wellness in the age of mass extinction, an exodus accelerated by human-centric activity.
Tony Matelli is an American sculptor renowned for his hyper-realistic artworks rendered in silicone, painted bronze, oil on canvas, and alternate materials showcasing his material dexterity. Matelli’s silicone sculpted self-portrait Arrangement captures the artist standing contrapposto in studio clothes, his head sliced and sliding at the neck, regenerating and fastening itself on surprising parts of Matelli’s body such as the foot and backside. This uncannily heady and physical reorientation of a hyper-realistic body questions perceptions of reality, turns it on its head, carving space for mindful meditation on the acts of thinking and looking.
The separation of the head from its anatomically correct position externalizes the “mind-body problem”, a subject of debate in philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience concerning the relationship between mind and body. One branch of thought in this problem, mind-body dualism, indicates that the mind, that which thinks and imagines, and the body, the physical structure of an organism, are individual and separable. Free will, consciousness, and the nature of personal identity are all implicated in dualism. The mind and body are integral components of the human condition, the central concern of Matelli’s artistic practice. In Echo, Matelli’s uncanny self-portrait pokes holes in a grasp on mental and physical reality and confronts social concerns of alienation, displacement, decadence, and transformation.
The Swedish artist Cajsa von Zeipel is well known for her large-scale sculptures made of white plaster and jesmonite. However, in recent works, von Zeipel constructs her figures using pastel-colored silicone, a biocompatible material associated with implants and prosthetics—something used to shape and transform bodies and identities. This shift in material foregrounds her technical prowess and features the interaction of technology and biology, with the female body at the core. Once long-limbed and close to emaciated young girls, now mothers with full breasts and bodies sticky with dystopic-tech, her female figures have grown up and into a queer coded world on the verge of ecological and economic collapse.
Mommy Crane depicts a mother figure twisting in the unnaturally sensuous serpentine pose. A trio of silicone babies slide into their mother’s face, a fourth hangs from her wrist. The figure is equipped with ample breasts, four to be exact, two appearing on her backside. Transparent tubes suck life’s milk from the mother’s breast, snaking their way to the infants and the mother herself. A Go-Pro bottle phallically juts from her forehead while almost every appendage is equipped with baby spoons, pacifiers, and silicone travel containers. Mommy’s body is a baby-making machine. Akin to Madonna, the ultimate mother, who reportedly conceived Jesus sans sexual intercourse, von Zeipel’s mother, viewed through the queer and specifically lesbian lens she has lent many of her sculptures, has also miraculously conceived through In Vitro Fertilization. Mommy Crane reflects and foreshadows the rapid convergence of bio, tech, and the body. Here, aimed at generating more bodies. But again, with decline in global biodiversity, the question of more bodies is a pertinent one.
It was foretold that Narcissus would live to an old age if he never knew himself, a cryptic prophecy. Narcissus' self-knowing was a mere reflection but cost him his life and those around him. His body vanished, leaving behind a yellow centered flower circled by white petals. The artwork in the exhibition echoes an age stained by (un)wellness, the loss of biodiversity, technosis, and decadence; modes of superficial individualism. Although dystopic, like the myth of Narcissus and Echo, something else is present: Narcissus left a flower or growth in his wake while Echo remained a living voice. Chapman’s Sacred Relics from the Neoliberalithic Era and The Unwellness of Wellbeing are icons of today, projecting a culture of ethos. Free will, multiple choice as sentient beings typifies Matelli’s Arrangement. von Zeipel’s Mommy Crane channels a post Madonna miracle, widening the possibility to procreate merging body, bio, and tech. The something else here as deeper modes of self-knowing and awareness, an echo of growth.
Text by Lauren Johnson
For more information about the works in the exhibition, please contact Hanna Lundberg at
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