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The Fischer King

Urs Fischer likes to play with dirt. As well as clay, melting wax and even rotting vegetables.

“Problem Painting,” 2012, by Urs Fischer

The Swiss-born sculptor, who once dug a giant hole in the floor of a New York gallery, is preparing for a major midcareer survey at MOCA. Divided into two sections, MOCA Grand Avenue will show a retrospective of Fischer’s earlier works, while The Geffen Contemporary plays host to a site-specific installation. Fischer is an artist who is constantly evolving, using the detritus of everyday life to explore the idea of decay. “He stretches the possibilities of the physical object,” says his London gallerist, Sadie Coles. “There’s something totally original about Urs’ work,” says businessman and collector Peter Morton, who sits on MOCA’s board of trustees. Embraced by an international crowd of collectors including Morton and Peter Brant, Fischer’s work has sold at auction for more than $6 million. The new work is at once poetic and prosaic, encompassing 26,000 square feet of clay sculptures produced by a team of collaborators. The primitive clay pieces are sprawling, creating miniaturized metropolises. Each day during installation, a new group of collaborators creates sculptures. “[Each person] has their own different style. They all do their own thing,” explains Fischer as he walks around bridges, birds, skulls and a headless female figure. He turns to look at a meticulously arranged pile of clay in the corner. “And in every group there is always a person who likes to stack,” he sighs. April 21-Aug. 19, MOCA Grand Avenue, 250 S. Grand Ave., L.A.; The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, 152 N. Central Ave., L.A., 213.621.1710, moca.org