Leandro Erlich

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Artist Statement

A few years ago, I created Nest: a cylindrical structure made with local stone. Nested within its interior was the glass sculpture of a cloud, positioned just below a skylight. It was an unusual project, capable of combining the delicate and ephemeral beauty of a cloud with the more rugged play of stone and the surrounding landscape. Like all site-specific work, Nest had its own spirit and unique qualities. When I was asked to create a new project for Al Ain, it seemed like an interesting opportunity to further develop this work; but this time I would base the supporting building (or nest) on the traditional architecture of the Al Jahili Fort and the Qattara Oasis. Water is, after all, the secret heart of any oasis, and clouds represent the heart of rain (and irrigation). But as I set to work, I stumbled upon images of the Beehive Tombs of Jebel Hafeet and was struck by the similarity between these beautiful structures and the original Nest in Uruguay. In fact, some of these ancient domes feature an aperture at the apex, just as I had planned for Nest. This new installation draws on the deep history of the region, while inscribing the precision of modernity within its stone walls. The cloud at its center is a mystery, both easy to see and impossible to touch. Clouds carry with them the suggestion of the ineffable and immaterial, a reminder of the sacred beyond the particularities of faith and time.

 

Artist Biography

Leandro Erlich was born in Argentina in 1973. He lives and works in Buenos Aires and Montevideo. Over the past two decades, his work has been shown internationally and featured in the permanent collections of major museums and private collectors. He enjoys particular renown in Asia, and his most recent exhibitions at the MORI Art Museum (Tokyo, 2017) and the HOW Art Museum (Shanghai, 2018) attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors. In July 2019, he became the first non-Chinese artist to occupy the entire exhibition space at the CAFAM (Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing), China’s premiere museum, with the show The Confines of The Great Void.

Erlich began his professional career at 18 with a solo exhibition at the Centro Cultural Recoleta in Buenos Aires and, after receiving several fellowships (El Fondo Nacional de las Artes, Fundación Antorchas), went on to study at the Core Program, an artist residency in Houston, Texas(Glassell School of Art, 1998); there, he developed his signature installations Swimming Pool and Living Room. In the year 2000, he participated in the Whitney Biennale with the work Rain, and in 2001 he became Argentina’s representative at the 49th Venice Biennale with Swimming Pool, a landmark piece that is part of the permanent collection at The 21st Century Museum of Art of Kanazawa (Japan) and the Voorlinden Museum (Netherlands).

His public works include La Democracia del Símbolo, a joint intervention in the Obelisco monument and MALBA Museum that captivated the city of Buenos Aires in 2015; Maison Fond marked the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris and is on permanent display at the Gare du Nord (Nuit Blanche, 2015);the celebrated installation Bâtiment (Nuit Blanche, Paris, 2004) has been reproduced in countries across the globe (France, The UK, Australia, Japan, Argentina, Ukraine, Austria). As a conceptual artist, his work explores the perceptual bases of reality and our capacity to interrogate these same foundations through a visual framework.

The architecture of the everyday is a recurring theme in Erlich’s art, aimed at creating a dialogue between what we believe and what we see, just as he seeks to close the distance between the museum or gallery space and daily experience.

His work has been shown in numerous individual exhibits which include: El Museo del Barrio, New York (2001); MACRO Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome (2006); Barbican Center, London(2013); 21stCentury Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan (2014); MORI Art Museum, Tokyo (2017/2018. Group shows include: la Nuit Blanche de Paris (2004); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2006); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, España (2008); Fundación PROA, Buenos Aires (2009, 2013); Galleria Continua Le Moulin (2011); Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2011).

He has participated extensively in biennales, among others: the 7th Istanbul Biennale (2001); the 3rd Shanghai Biennale (2002); the 1st Busan Biennale, Korea (2002); the 26thSao Paulo Biennial (2004); the Venice Biennale (2001/2005); the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial, Japan (2006/2018); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2006); Liverpool Biennial (2008); Singapore Biennial (2008).His work is featured in many private and public collections, including: The Museum of Modern Art, Buenos Aires; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Tate Modern, London; Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; 21st Century Museum of Art Kanazawa, Japan and MACRO, Rome.