Since 1995, Joep van Lieshout (Ravenstein, Holland, 1963) has worked under the name Atelier van Lieshout (AVL) to emphasise the fact that everything he does is the result of collective endeavour, rather than the outcome of one person’s creativity. In the last decade AVL has produced a wide variety of works of art, from mobile homes, modular bathrooms, furniture and functional objects nearly all made of fibreglass in the bright colours which have become AVL’s signature. You cannot pigeonhole this group, because they produce work which crosses the boundaries of architecture, design, art and science. Their massive interactive pieces are well known, as are their sensitive sculptures which address the concept of human presence and absence.
The drawing and sculpture of Atelier van Lieshout displays particular interest in the function of the organs of the human body, working on the physical components of four vital processes: the digestive system, reproduction, the circulation of the blood and the nervous system. They present the human body as a network of exchanges rather than an isolated entity, where the biological collides with the mechanical and the organic fuses with the architectural.
Distrito Cu4tro in this first exhibition of AVL in a Spanish gallery, is showing a series of works varying in scope, as a panorama of the total, with a particular focus on architecture: paintings on a large scale (ink on canvas) which are almost drawings, and architectural maquettes expressing irony and wit, (mini modular brothels) with the ethical and aesthetic elements which are always evident in the work. Also the celebrated fibreglass sculptures, this time from the black series, which synthesise the human silhouette, displaying it always in strange positions, coming close to how it is portrayed in classical sculpture; then large works dealing with human organs in various materials: bronze, fibreglass or porcelain. The last part of the exhibition is an installation demonstrating the recycling of organic material, to raise awareness of the need to protect the natural world, a piece which demonstrates the challenging character of everything that AVL does.
The work of Atelier van Lieshout forms part of the most important international collections such as MOMA (New York), Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), The Prada Foundation (Milan), The Castello de Rivoli (Turin) and the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis). AVL works regularly with galleries like Tanya Bodakar (N.Y.), Bob Van Orsow (Zurich), Gio Marconi (Milan). They have exhibited in MACBA (Barcelona 2001) Munster (2001), MACRO (Rome 2006) and The Museum Miraikan (Tokio 2006). They have taken part in the 21st Biennale in Sao Paolo, Brasil (1994), 25th Biennale in Sao Paolo (2002), The Venice Bienale (2003), the Trienale in Yokohama, Japan (2005); and they will be at the Biennale in Montreal, Canada (2007).