Anna Meliksetian and Michael Briggs are pleased to present a selection of works by Bas Jan Ader (b. 1942 - missing at sea 1975) in the Generations section of Miart 2017. Curated by Nicola Lees and Douglas Fogle, Generations presents a dialogue between works by two artists from different generations, in an interaction between historical impact and experimentation.
Meliksetian | Briggs is exhibiting Ader’s work in a shared stand with London’s Hollybush Gardens, who are presenting the works of Andrea Büttner (b. 1972, Germany). Exhibited for the first time are several of Ader’s photographic studies for works made in the early 1970s along with his seminal video work Primary Time, 1974.
Working mainly in film, video, photography and performance, Ader’s oeuvre merges a conceptual framework with a tragicomic beauty referencing Hollywood slapstick of Buster Keaton and W.C. Fields, the drama of Romanticism, the absurdity of existence found in such literary works as La Chute (The Fall) by Albert Camus and All That Fall by Samuel Beckett and the profound influence of the Dutch Modernist tradition, alongside his central themes of falling, physical and emotional vulnerability, mortality and risk.
The Study for Fall, 2 Amsterdam, 1970, which will be presented at the fair, is a five part sequence of vintage photographs based on the film of the same name, depicting the artist riding a bicycle, awkwardly, while he holds a bouquet of flowers in his hand, making it difficult to steer, into a canal. Referring to these Fall works, Ader stated “… When I fell off the roof of my house or into a canal, it was because gravity made itself master over me.”
The Study for Broken fall (geometric), 1971 takes place in Westkapelle in the southwest of Holland and in it references an artistic dispute by two seminal Dutch Modernists, Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) who strictly and dogmatically used only horizontal and vertical lines in his late abstract works, and Theo van Doesburg, (1883-1931) who introduced diagonals into his abstract works around the same time. A sawhorse represents the horizontal and vertical, while Ader’s falling body is the diagonal. This action takes place in an art historically loaded site, in front of the famous lighthouse at Westkapelle, which also appears in Mondrian’s early paintings, as well as in his early experiments in separating primary colors in his work, his first steps toward De Stijl and Neo-Plasticism.
In the Study for On the road to a new Neo-Plasticism, 1971, Ader uses his body, along with primary colored rectangular objects and a blue blanket, to make a Mondrian-like abstract painting, his body being in essence the bold, graphic black lines that delineate the blocks of color in Mondrian’s later abstract work. Mondrian, the giant of Dutch Modernism, makes his presence also felt in Primary Time, a video performance where the artist rearranges a mixed bouquet of flowers, adding, removing and reorganizing them into bouquets of a single primary color in sequence over the 25 minute duration.
In addition to these four art works, Meliksetian | Briggs will have a very limited number of copies of Ader’s rare artist’s book, Fall, 1970 available at the fair.
Bas Jan Ader (b. 1942 Winschoten, The Netherlands) received his Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Otis Art Institute of Los Angeles (1965) and his Master’s of Fine Arts at the Claremont Graduate School and University Center, Claremont, CA (1967). The artist was lost at sea in 1975 during the middle part of what was to be his grand trilogy of works entitled In search of the miraculous.
Recent exhibitions featuring the artist’s work include Drifting Home at Meliksetian | Briggs curated by Pedro de Llano, who also curated the artist’s Spanish retrospective at the CGAC Santiago de Compostela, major solo shows in New York and London last summer at Metro Pictures and Simon Lee Gallery respectively, an Italian retrospective at the Villa della Rose at the Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna/ MAMbo in 2013 and group exhibitions at the Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, NY, Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Germany, Musée d’art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France, Istanbul Modern, Istanbul and Museo Jumex, Mexico City to name a few.
In 2017, the artist’s work will be featured in exhibitions at the Kunsthaus Graz, Graz, Austria, the Museu Serralves, Porto, Portugal, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Castello di Rivoli, Turin as well as in Viva Arte Viva, the 57th International Art Exhibition at the Biennale di Venezia / Venice Biennale curated by Christine Macel opening in May.
The artist’s work is included in important public collections such as the Museum of Modern Art / MoMA, New York City, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City, the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, and the Berkeley Museum of Art, Berkeley, CA among others.
Meliksetian | Briggs is the exclusive representative of the Estate of Bas Jan Ader.
international fair of modern and contemporary art
Pavilion 3, Gate 5
Image: © The Estate of Bas Jan Ader / Mary Sue Ader Andersen, 2017 / The Artist’s Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy of Meliksetian | Briggs,