Urs Fischer (b. 1973)
signed, titled and dated 'MEATLOAF URS FISCHER 2009 (on the reverse)
oak, ACM panels, gesso, ink, acrylic paint and polyurethane glue on ACM panels
96 1/8 x 71 5/8in. (244.5 x 182cm.)
Executed in 2009
Almine Rech Gallery, Brussels.
Private Collection, Europe.
Urs Fischer: Shovel in A Hole, exh. cat., New York, New Museum, 2009 (illustrated in colour, p. 285).
Brussels, Almine Rech Gallery, Magritte et la lumière, 2009 (illustrated in colour, p. 27).

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Lot Essay

Meatloaf presents a dramatic collage-like combination of forms and imagery executed on a vast scale. Richly tactile melted metallic elements and wax are shown alongside a larger-than-life screw partially obstructing the image of two figures. Executed in 2009, the current lot is an iconic example of Fischer's work and was produced in the year of his widely acclaimed solo exhibition at the New Museum in New York: Urs Fischer: Marguerite de Ponty. The exhibition revealed Fischer to be an artist whose work is instantly recognisable with its distinctive combination of visceral force, altered materiality and unstable forms that play with accepted perceptions and modify conventional relationships between viewer and object.

Born in Zurich in 1973, Urs Fischer has become famous for his unexpected interventions within a variety of settings. Employing all manner of materials, his practice is characterised by a consistent dialogue or juxtaposition between seemingly opposite elements. The luxuriant, soft appearance of the wax and metallic forms contrast with the large scale reproduction of a screw. They make surprising companions to the image of two unknown figures with which they are combined and obscure. Indeed, the human figure consistently inspires Fischer, most often in a state of fragmentation, either melted or pierced. The effect is uncanny, and in this case is reminiscent of the Surrealist master René Magritte. The screw covering the figure's face in Fischer's work recalls the apple covering Magritte's in his self-portrait The Son of Man (1964) or the drapery covering the kissing figures in The Lovers (1928). There is an element of drama to all these works, and this appropriately follows the image backgrounds to Fischer's celebrated body of work from which Meatloaf derives, which, as here, incorporates stills from films like Frankenstein or the Wolfman as backgrounds.

The series from which Meatloaf is taken can be seen as a masterful combination of his sculptural practice with a more painterly one. Conventional media are too narrow to encompass a body of work like Fischer's that operates more within an inter-media condition, combining painting, sculpture, film and photography in his unique approach to art. As Fischer said, 'the way I see it, my paintings are more like sculptures. I see them as objects on the wall that have a particular surface. The paint applied is just one possible layer.' (The artist quoted in interview with M. Gioni, in B. Curiger, M. Gioni & J. Morgan (eds.), Urs Fischer: Shovel in a Hole, exh. cat., New York, 2009, p. 60). In this sense, Meatloaf can be seen as a sculptural work that exhibits Fischer's characteristic showmanship and reflects his theatrical talent for staging his artwork.

At the same time, the piece operates on a richly visual level, affecting the viewer in much more of a visceral than cerebral manner. In many ways, this liberates it from an overly linguistic interpretation and is, in part, what makes the artwork so appealing. In any case, Fischer believes that over-explanation of art is reductive to its possibilities, limiting it unnecessarily. As he said, 'art is like people: you cannot reduce them to a couple of sentences. They are much more complex, much richer.' (Ibid., p. 62). Meatloaf follows precisely this philosophy, articulating it according to Fischer's monumental, brutal, and wonderfully tactile aesthetic to great effect.

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