At the heart of this exhibition of works by the Welsh artist Bethan Huws (b. 1961) is her piece entitled Forest from 2008/09. The work consists of 88 bottle racks, of the kind that were once a common sight in many a French household. From within this dense ‘forest’ of (once) everyday objects glows a bottle rack fashioned from neon tubes. As a piece of sculpture, Forest is at once alluring and enchanted; it pervades the exhibition space while simultaneously remaining a mystery. In selecting the bottle rack as the starting point for her installation, Huws makes direct reference to one of the great revolutionaries of 20th-century art – Marcel Duchamp. A bottle rack was one of the first found objects he pronounced, without any further embellishment, a work of art (Readymade).
Bethan Huws’ art is astonishingly multifacetted. Her work includes watercolours and whole-room installations, textual interventions and changeable letter boards, object-like sculptures and video works. The exhibition is being held in the Orangerie at the Kunsthalle, alongside other contemporary works from the museum’s collection. In addition to the exhibition of her own work, Bethan Huws will also select works for display from the museum’s collection of 20th-century art.
The self-portrait is a truly European genre of visual art. It arises from the fundamental need of the modern individual to investigate and represent him or herself as a means of continually grappling with the question of human existence. The self-portrait is unique as a genre because the artist is not only the creator of the representation, but also provides the content for the work.
Self-portraits spanning a period of five centuries provide the focus for this tri-national project, a collaboration between the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon, the Scottish National Galleries in Edinburgh, and the Kunsthalle Karlsruhe. On display in the exhibition are around 100 works employing different artistic media and techniques, including painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, and video art.
Self-awareness and self-representation carry great importance in the lives of children and those coming of age. How do our young visitors perceive and represent themselves? Within this process, what roles do age, sex, ancestry, and fashion play? What impact do our social networks have on the configuration of the self?
Accompanying the five centuries of artistic self-portraits on display in the main building, the exhibition in the Junge Kunsthalle seeks to encourage reflection on today’s forms of self-presentation in digital media. It features various activities involving perception, designed to support the development of identity in youth through experimentation with various creative and imaginative aesthetic styles.