Cracking The Code
Appleton Square presents the exhibition Cracking The Code with Adelhyd van Bender, John Urho Kemp, Melvin Way and Pepe Gaitán, curated by Antonia Gaeta.
The exhibition aims to potentiate the interpellation of aesthetic values and fictional constructions in Art Brut as an answer to the need of decrypting the codes, whether they are linguistic, visual, formal or only a solution to the authors’ obsession.
Discovered in the early 1980s at a homeless center in New York City, Melvin Way is now a key figure in contemporary art brut. Having interrupted his scientific studies because of his schizophrenia, he relentlessly covers fragments of papers of mathematical and chemical formulas, sibylline sketches… These dense talismanic notes, which he treasures in his pockets, exhale a rare magnetism. The 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Critics, Jerry Saltz, considers him “a mystic visionary genius, one of the greatest living American artists.” The artist’s works are now in the collections of the MoMA (New York) and the Smithsonian (Washington).
Born into the Colombian bourgeoisie, Pepe Gaitan chose to live a life of asceticism and found his only pleasure directly from his daily readings at Bogota’s national library. From these books, he selects pages that he photocopies to then obliterate the counter of the letters. It is around these phantom graphemes that he composes his sibylline collages. In 2020, the Centre for Contemporary Art in Geneva celebrates him with scrivere designando, an exhibition curated by Andrea Bellini and Sarah Lombardi.
John Urho Kemp
This Californian artist, who died in 2010, had a degree in chemical engineering. Fascinated by meditation and metaphysics, he sought to unravel the mysteries of existence through formulas and numbers drawn from his own history. This “conceptual brut” artist sometimes photocopied his work to distribute it to as many people as possible. In 2014, Daniel Baumann introduced him to the 548 Center in New York. The following year, we entrusted Gael Charbau with writing an essay and curing the monographic exhibition held at the gallery. In the same year, Alfred Pacquement, former director of Pompidou, presented a John Urho Kemp installation at the Musée des Beaux-arts in Paris.