Roman Road is thrilled to present Solo Chaud , an intriguing solo exhibition by Thomas Mailaender. For the fi rst time in London the artist will exhibit together diverse works inspired from his ‘Fun Archive’. Featuring his new series of ceramics, his cyanotypes, as well as a fantastic selection of works from his contemporaneous projects: Les Belles Images and his Chicken Museum relics, the exhibition explores Mailaender’s methods of exploiting his archived images and shows how his innovative practice drives a new mode of art making, built from a merged position as a photographer, curator and collector.
The ‘Fun Archive’ is a personal collection of more than 11000 amateur photographs that Thomas Mailaender began in 2000 as a student in art school. Amassed from the Internet and fl ea markets, his images draw from human behaviour and incidental activities, each entertaining with comical and unabashed content. Throughout his practice, he has employed varied and alternative printing techniques to elevate his collected souvenirs into the line of art, including the somewhat outmoded cyanotype chiefl y recognised by its distinctive cyan-blue hue. With the growing interest in contemporary ceramics Mailaender’s unique mixed media sculptures certainly arouse curiosity and elude expectations. Shifting both between materials and representation, his novel pieces defy categorisation as sculpture, photography or pottery. In his new Totem #3 (2014) for example, various vintage collected porcelains on a black faience sculpture with fused glass sit atop a wooden pedestal platform covered in rainbow polished tile featuring a collage of his photo ceramics. As painted tile becomes sculptural base and photograph becomes object, Mailaender emerges as an idiosyncratic talent of contemporary art today.
The chosen image(s) are printed from a special printer using enamel oxides onto a clear decal paper. The decal is trimmed then moistened with water so it softens and separates from the paper before being applied to the ceramic, which is then fi red for the third and fi nal time so the image(s) become a permanent part of the work. In Mailaender’s Totem #6 (2014) for instance we fi nd diff erent ceramics assembled atop each other, two of which prominently present humorous images taken from his ‘Fun Archive’. The bottom of the sculpture features a depiction of a black leather shoe upon which someone has sellotaped a piece of paper with a hand-drawn Nike symbol, positioned on a white enamelled tile that covers the pedestal. Mounted upon the square base is a red faience cylinder enamelled black, presenting an image of a group of young men warming their hands around a fi re that they created by setting their friend’s hair alight. In combining together his individually made ceramics, Mailaender accentuates the impact and reception of his occupied images in an amalgamation of materials, techniques and apparent ingenuity.
Analogously in his Les Belles Images the artist blends black-and-white collected imagery with bright handmade enamelled stoneware frames. Acquired from various fl ea markets around Europe, the majority of these vintage photographs are non-authored yet they all uncover an interesting tale or event from an individual’s past. For example in A visit to Ceylon is uplifting! (2011), we witness a young woman lifted off her feet hugging the trunk of an elephant; the image portrays the German writer Erika Bosl during a visit to the Zoological Gardens in 1959 at Dehiwala, Sri Lanka, receiving an aff ectionate welcome. Similarly in his more recent Tarzan (2014), the artist has incorporated his collected vintage photographs in his ceramic sculpture. Upon the sycamore pedestal of the piece we fi nd several pictures of Albert Richard a.k.a ‘Tarzan’, a famous maquisard during the French liberation in 1944. By creatively reappropriating these found images, Mailaender revisits and brings forth a newfound interest to such events and figures in our history.
Since its inaugural presentation in 2010 at the Théâtre National de La Criée, Marseille, Mailaender has recreated his Chicken Museum in several spaces including at Roman Road’s Chicken Show group exhibition in 2014. The installation features live chickens surrounded by a curated selection of his collected pictures, commenting on the way in which we are forced to consume images in our culture today. At the end of these shows, he has cut a section of the wall to conserve a part of the work. The resultant pieces are thereafter framed and ostensibly resemble altarpieces, adding to the idea that they convey something sacred or precious. For the first time these relics will be exhibited, extending how his collected images have also inspired his unique installation projects.
The walls and fl oor of Roman Road’s gallery space will be covered with squares of white cardboard joined together in adhesive tape, upon which Mailaender will mount an array of his vibrant works. His new series of ceramics will be exhibited in prominent cardboard display units featured at diff ering heights on the walls. To complement the comprehensive display of his artworks, all of the artist’s books will be presented together and will be available to purchase at the gallery.
In addition to our internal exhibition, Roman Road will feature a selection of Thomas Mailaender’s cyanotypes
including his large format works mounted on plasterboards (measuring 250 x 120cm) at our booth at Photo London, hosted at Somerset House, London, from 21-24 May 2015. Solo Chaud opens on 28 April and will be on display until