PHILIP METTEN: " 153. Stanton"

November 12th - December 31st 2015
Opening Reception: Thursday, November 12th, 2015 6-8pm

The project "153. Stanton" by Antwerp-based artist Philip Metten (Genk, Belgium) at Kai Matsumiya reconfigures one of the primary yet least material thresholds of the gallery space: the window vitrine. For his first solo-show in North America, the artist intervened on both sides of the windowpane of what used to be a Wu-Tang Clan merchandising shop – the logo of the infamous hip-hop band is still visible on the roller shutter. Metten provided the gallery with a sculptural facelift, as it were, granting it a completely new entrance and front. Painted in grey, the façade displays a circular form that holds the middle between a geometric logo and a diagram with facial features.

Consisting of different layers of wooden panels that were laser-cut in advance, the constitutive elements of the geometrical scheme have received a different thickness, which grants the frontal wall its distinctly sculptural presence. At the center of the façade a rectangular opening provides visual contact with the inner gallery space. To enter the gallery, physical interaction with the piece is required, as the door to the gallery is part of the sculptural wall – not unlike a big stone wall that opens to a vault or treasure chamber of sorts which, admittedly, all art galleries still practice. The front and the back of the newly inserted fascia however differ greatly. In contrast to the bulky appearance on the street side, the artist has retained the interior with surface grey finishing. 153. Stanton radically alters the gallery’s public address to the city. The interior of the gallery remains untouched, virtually empty even.
As for all of his major projects, Metten returned for the design of 153. Stanton to a drawing he made in 2008. A daily drawing practice serves as the systemic foundation of Metten’s work. It engenders the basic schemes for his sculptures, prints, and wall reliefs, as well as for larger architectural projects, such as his solo show at Z33 art space in Hasselt (Innercoma, 2010), the much-praised renovation of a bar in Antwerp  (Bar, 2013), or most recently the scenography for a group show in Extra City Kunsthal, Antwerp (The Corner Show, 2015).

Decidedly venturing into the nebulous field of art and architecture, the artist refuses to take sides. Both the semantic regimes of art and architecture serve as a frame of reference for his sculptural investigation of architecture, or architectural exploration of sculpture for that matter. Metten deliberately suspends the distinction with work that is hard to pin down. Both mask and oculus, 153. Stanton engages in a sculptural play with the material history and conceptual potential of the architectural façade in a city where the curtain wall – by now the lingua franca of all corporate architecture – once came to full fruition yet still determines the face of the city.
The artist intervenes in that very thin zone where the semantic difference between the sphere of art and the realm of the everyday is instituted. 153. Stanton nestles itself on that very thin membrane that separates the urban bustle from the artistic realm, yet leaves the space behind fully unimpeded, open for others to occupy and use.
Wouter Davidts, Antwerp, Belgium, 1 November 2015.
153. Stanton by Philip Metten is generously supported by KASK, School of Arts Ghent, Belgium. 





Kai Matsumiya

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New York, NY 10002

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