John McKenzie © 2015 BALTIC
American artist B. Wurtz is known for gathering and accumulating ordinary objects, mostly related to consumer habits, which he later assembles and groups into sculptural pieces. Rather than sublimating or altering the meaning of these items for everyday use, the sculptures underscore their formal quality and function.
Opening in Madrid on 14 October, La Casa Encendida presents B. Wurtz: Selected Works, 1970–2016, a show curated by Laurence Sillars and previously organised by the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, UK.
B. Wurtz's work revolves around the use of objects that refer, directly or indirectly, to the acts of eating, sleeping and keeping warm: food tins, socks, clothes hangers, plastic bags, buttons, supermarket leaflets, plastic containers, etc. The exhibition presents works produced from the beginning of his career in the 1970s to the present day. In addition to sculptures and installations, visitors will be able to view paintings and two-dimensional creations as well as one photographic piece. The latter works are important for understanding how, through the intrinsic properties of the materials he uses, the artist shifts almost imperceptibly from sculpture to the two-dimensional plane.
Wurtz repurposes commonplace, disposable household materials to craft his delicate sculptures and installations, practising a form of artistic recycling. By turning discarded material into works of art, he gives new meaning to lowly objects and demonstrates his commitment to the ethics of reuse.
These meticulous structures made from food wrappers, plastic carrier bags, shoelaces, locks, takeaway trays and mesh bags allude to the human essentials of food, shelter and clothing and allow viewers to reflect on the many possibilities of everyday materials. The survey exhibition brings together more than 60 works spanning his entire career of over 40 years.