No Direction Home – a famous phrase by Bob Dylan – is the title of the new installation which German artist Franz Ackermann has created especially for Galeria 2 at Fortes Vilaça. This artwork deals with the relation that the artist has maintained with the city of São Paulo since he arrived here for the first time in early 1998.
Considered one of the best artists in contemporaneity, Ackermann finds the inspiration for his works on his constant trips around the globe. Based on these intercontinental journeys, the artist develops his Mental Maps: drawings, paintings and sculptures in which he expresses the impressions obtained on his trips. For Ackermann, who considers himself a professional nomad, No Direction Home is the best alternative for survival.
The intense urbanity of the large metropolis of São Paulo has been the driving force of countless reflections by this artist concerning the different realities currently in existence worldwide. His artworks always present references to directions for orienting oneself – lines, spaces (public/private), grids – there is always a conflict of directions, giving the viewer a dizzying sensation of being absorbed by multiple fields with no common center.
The installation in Galeria 2 consists of a large oil-on-canvas, two round paintings on wood, one painting made directly on the wall, and dozens of photographs. The round paintings explode in colors, and are arranged vertically and horizontally at the center of the installation, on rotating bases. This device is a way the artist found to engage in a debate on current policy in São Paulo, called Cidade Limpa [Clean City], which prohibits billboards. Believing that billboards are a mechanism of communication and that hiding them is not the urban solution, Ackermann issues his manifesto by way of paintings presented like billboards. The horizontal painting/billboard serves as a support for various objects, including a small table the artist bought in Brazil, a piece of iron that makes the table like a sundial since its base can be rotated, along with various fashion and tourism magazines. For their part, the photos stuck to the wall evince an ironic tone: they were taken by the artist at an exotic place called Tropical Islands, located 60 km from Berlin, a resort that theatricalizes the cliché of a tropical setting.
In recent years, Ackermann's artworks have been featured in important international museums, including IMMA – Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; Museu Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Kunsthalle Basel, Basel; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. The artist took part in the 50th Biennale di Venezia in 2003, as well as the Lyon Biennale and the 24th Bienal de São Paulo in 2004.