Isa Genzken's consistently radical work has been quietly influencing the art world for far longer than her name has been known further afield.
The German artist, born in 1948, has recently become more widely known - meriting a major MoMA (New York) retrospective early this year - although she has been creating work which has been much discussed since she first began exhibiting in the 1970s. The exhibition due to open at Inverleith this week is the first UK showing of her work outside London and will encompass pieces from the past fruitful decade, a period in which her assemblage sculptures have become increasingly hectic and inspired.
Genzken's art is humorous and somewhat terrifying, intimate and monumental, from the crazed mannequins to the sometimes obscure and tottering collections of found objects. Like many contemporary artists, she does not define herself by genre or material, but hops through media using whichever is best for the project at hand, although her work is largely sculptural. Recent output has frequently involved large-scale assemblage (a medium she has "redefined … for a new era" according to MoMA), wall and floor-based works, and sculpture, though she has historically worked in anything from film to collage.
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There is something very urban in Genzken's rather "architectural" work, from the built-up assemblage of modern consumer detritus to the recent "overload" works, which seem to speak of contemporary social experience. They should provide an interesting foil to the natural world seen from Inverleith's windows, the gallery contents a reminder of the cluttered and troubled urban psyche beyond the Botanic Garden's groomed perimeter.
SARAH URWIN JONES