Exhibition text (PDF)
Andra Ursuta (b. 1979) calls upon a wide range of materials, from concrete to plaster, marble, fabric, and wax, and references rather prosaic objects, whether a swing set, stools, a batting cage, or a hairdressing parlor, and transforms it all into haunting results. Wrought with a mix of melancholy, nostalgia, and apprehension, her works suggest a sense of urgency and even a tinge of apocalyptic doom. In her hands, everything takes resonant shape with an undeniably dark symbolism. For her exhibition Whites at Kunsthalle Basel—her first solo presentation in Switzerland—the Romanian-born artist has developed a series of new sculptures that expand on a work she first made in 2013, titled Broken Obelisk. Returning to that vaguely anthropomorphic cast piece, she has created a large new family of eerie figures. Each has eye sockets or nostrils cast from human skulls sunk into its smooth surface, simultaneously recalling Barnett Newman’s eponymous monument (Broken Obelisk, 1963–67) and a decrepit, hooded figure. Spread across the expanse of the upstairs galleries, this ensemble of new sculptures and other pieces turns Kunsthalle Basel temporarily into a geriatric clinic for Western Modernism.