Making Things Happen: Young Artists in Dialogue III

22 Apr – 8 Jul 2018

In this third dialogue of Making Things Happen, the artworks surprise as they stand forth in their literalness and as they deftly disrupt our sense of the privileged historical backdrop at TMH. In attesting to sculpture’s generative vocabulary, BORIS CHOUVELLON and MENGZHI ZHENG flesh out the theme of the TMH yearlong program: how do young artists inscribe themselves in the history of an art medium?

The work of both artists is unquestionably sculptural yet blurs the distinction between image and construct. Having chosen to install side-by-side along the entire length of the gallery, they draw attention to a play on objectivity, to the cognitive tension between a sculptor’s art and the socially engaged image making that we attribute to photography. Their individual sense of the precarious is affirmed and contrasted by the addition of actual photography by Chouvellon and bluntly technical drawings and etchings by Zheng. Equally free with respect to the sculptural aesthetic and subtle use of color, each artist intriguingly disarms any simple social and political meaning in the rigor of form.

Boris Chouvellon:
TMH Catalogue 5.5, 2018 /
Mengzhi Zheng:
TMH Catalogue 5.6, 2018

Sculpture Now with professor Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes, 6 July 2018 / Time and Architecture with philosopher, historian, and professor Fons Elders, 26 May 2018

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Both artists, working with urban references, register the deferential (historicized) and anti-deferential (lived-in) impulses that we all share as city dwellers. At TMH they allow themselves to invade the historical monument with the drama of the sculptor’s material force. And yet, their self-conscious negligence of formal parameters, delicate work of the hand, as well as striking visual punning on permanence, point to an essentially fragile rather than heroic mastery of representation and preservation.

Texts by Marsha Plotnitsky, TMH Founding Artistic Director, and art writer Hubert Besacier.



Boris Chouvellon—Photographer, 2017-18
C-prints on Canson paper
32 x 32 cm, each (framed)


Sans titre (Magic World), 2007-11
Series of 15 framed C-prints mounted on Dibond
Ed. of 4
120 x 80 cm, each


Boris Chouvellon (1980, FR) began to exhibit as soon as he finished his art studies, including at the prestigious Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Arts at the Villa Arson, Nice (MA). In 2015, he became laureate of the Friends of the Maison Rouge prize, Paris, and has had important museum residencies. He recently had a solo show at La Crypte d’Orsay in Orsay, France, and has been awarded an Etant Donnés residency in Los Angeles, USA, by the FACE Foundation. Chouvellon takes his cue from entropy and decay, from remnants of labor and leisure. In his uncanny objects and situations, sculpture blends with photography and video. Chouvellon lives and works in Paris.

Mengzhi Zheng (1983, FR born CN) received jury commendations for his MA at the prestigious French art academy Villa Arson and is continuously featured in solo and curated shows, including the biennales of Lyon, 2015, and Orléans Architecture, 2018. Zheng’s serial maquettes and drawings are inventions that underscore the logic of the waste materials he uses (fragments of crates, bits of cardboard, discarded paper or wood) and highlight the contemporary urgency of his oeuvre confounding painting, sculpture, and architecture. He was part of Making Things Happen at TMH, Amsterdam, 2017-18, and was TMH’s artist in focus at Unseen Amsterdam, 2019. In 2019, Zheng completed Inarchitectures, a permanent landscape installation for the renovation of Les Halles car park in Lyon (Lyon Parc Auto, LPA).



Décalque spatial A, B, C, 2018
Colored paint, satin finish on wood, wall mounting
64 x 74 x 50 / 67 x 74 x 40 / 62 x 74 x 40 cm


Plissements no. 51-62, 2018
Ink, colored fiber tip, and colored pencil on paper, framed
42 x 29.7 cm, each


Untitled no. 1-5, 2009-11
Series of 5 etchings, black ink, framed
No. 10 from edition of 10
24 x 32 cm, each


Inhabitat A01-A10, 2018
Black fiber tip on paper, framed
29.7 x 21 cm, each