Friday, January 11, 2019

Face On. Group Show. Gallery GH36, Berlin. Jan 10th 2019

Press Release: Galerie GH36 is pleased to present a group exhibition entitled FACE ON, from Jan 10th through Jan 30th, 2019 at GH36.
Our fascination with the “mirror of the soul” never ceases. We try to depict them relentlessly. We sculpt faces in stone, paint, carve, draw, and photograph them, always with the ambition to catch a glimpse of what is behind the mask of intended expression.

FACE ON joins these thoughts with artistic styles revealing alternative or known expression. The group show is composed of international artists, focusing on the painting and drawing of „alternative portraits“, both abstract and realistic in their ability to express.

The artists: Anna Mond (DE/IT), Carsten Bund (DE/USA), Tine Isachen (NOR), Jani Kaunisto (FIN), Hedley Roberts (UK), Magdalena Patyk (POL), Rie Froelich (USA), Timo Konttinen (FIN) Samira Freitag (DE).

The approaches of the artists are individual and manifold: intuitive, experimental and conceptual. But they all seek to wrest an image from the human face with an aim toward depicting the „essence“ of the person portrayed. Eight of the nine artists have found and further supported one another through the social media platform Instagram, using it to show and sell their works and to take cues from one anothers published pieces. A 9th local Berlin artist was invited to the exhibition through analog traditional means and shows the spectrum of earlier figurative portraits which relates to the group.

FACE ON reveals new influences and perspectives on the subject of the portrait. In particular, It is a mirror to the influence of so-called social media, focusing on the interrelation of closeness and distance, public and private, and the notion of authentic expressions within the digital realm. giving insights into artistic practices and fruitful exchange.

Rie Froelich

Hedley Roberts
Hedley Roberts
 Timo Konttinen
 Timo Konttinen
Jani Kaunisto

Tine Isachsen
Anna Mond
Magdalena Patyk
Anna Mond
Carsten Bund
Carsten Bund

Hedley Roberts (detail).

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Christoph Hänsli. Der Gernerator. Gallery Judin, Berlin. Jan 2019.

Press Release: Banal they may well seem, these every­day motifs trans­posed into paint­ingsalways on a scale of 1:1—by the Swiss artist Christoph Hänsli, and yet the con­text to which he draws our atten­tion with this painterly conver­sion is con­sis­tently profound. After explor­ing the under­takings of human beings in their attempt to give life a mean­ing, Hänsli, in recent years, has turned his atten­tion to our con­stant efforts to defy our vuln­er­a­bil­ity and help­less­ness.
The artist ini­tiated these enquir­ies with two large-scale projects. In 2015 he began work on Der Gen­er­ator (The Gen­er­ator), draw­ing us into the heart of the Saint-Gotthard Mas­sif where the Swiss artillery built a sprawl­ing fortress dur­ing World War II. Hänsli produced a life-size depic­tion of the con­trol panel that oper­ated the fortress’ energy sup­ply. Almost eight meters long, Der Gen­er­ator fea­tures an entire arsenal of switches, reg­u­lators and lamps. They symbol­ize both the man­age­able con­trol that can be gained through technol­ogy and the poten­tial for a total loss of command—thus making this paint­ing a dou­ble-por­trait of confi­dence and fear.
The inspi­ra­tion for Hänsli’s next big project, Deponie (Dis­posal site, 2015—16) was equally sub­terra­ne­ous. His quest for sys­tems of order led the artist to the landfill at Herfa-Neu­rode in the Ger­man state of Hesse, the world’s largest under­ground repos­itory of haz­ardous waste. In addi­tion to over two million met­ric tons of dis­charge con­tain­ing mer­cury or arsenic, a “sample room” dis­plays hundreds of tiny amounts of poi­so­nous chem­icals from all over the world—in inno­cent looking and neatly labeled glass jars that closely resem­ble the ones we use for our kitchen spices. Hänsli has trans­posed 33 of these samples into small paint­ings, tidily arranged by cat­egories of pol­lutant. They pre­sent them­selves as a lit­tle per­i­odic table in pas­tel col­ors of the side prod­ucts of civ­i­liza­tion we pre­fer to for­get.
The fol­low­ing year, Hänsli con­signed a se­ries of six medicine cab­i­nets to canvas and gave them the telltale title Fes­tun­gen (Fortresses, 2017). Many of the labels are illeg­i­ble and the lit­tle boxes and con­tain­ers dis­solve into an abs­tract grid. What the Fes­tun­gen really con­ceal thus remains diffuse: the pills for head­aches and hay fever can hardly be dis­tin­guished from the drugs for depres­sion and can­cer. Their very exis­tence implies secu­rity and sat­isfies our need to be pro­tected. Whether intended by the artist or not, each of these med­ical chests is also a highly inti­mate, if some­what blurred, por­trait of its owner.
Hänsli’s inquiry into our mul­ti­faceted and at times absurd desire for safety is expanded by 100 paint­ings of lit­tle screws, most of them rusty and twisted, picked up by the artist on the streets of his home town Zurich or dur­ing trips to New York, Berlin, Milan, and else­where (Ver­loren, Lost, 2013—14). It was not just the eas­ily over­looked beauty of these lit­tle objects that fas­cinated him. It was above all the idea that every sin­gle one of these screws, how­ever tiny, once performed a func­tion, and that its absence from this important place poses a latent secu­rity risk.
The most recent work in the exhi­bi­tion con­cludes Hänsli’s research into our defense mech­a­nisms and adds a striking splash of color. Bald (Soon, 2018) shows a signal red but­ton intrigu­ing in its ambiva­lence. The but­ton might equally trig­ger a destruc­tive action or a life-sav­ing measure. As so often, interpreta­tion is left to the viewer—Hänsli simply jogs our thoughts with his painterly preci­sion and sub­tle humor.

Galerie Judin.

Henning Strassburger. Kenny. Blain Southern. Berlin. Jan 2019

Press Release: Blain|Southern presents new paintings and works on paper by Henning Strassburger (b.1983 Meissen, Germany) for his first exhibition with the gallery. 
Strassburger’s latest series of works can be seen as the continuation of two earlier series, Pool and Jane, with the use of splashes, the grid, and the subtle accentuation of the painting's edge reappearing. In all three series, he draws references from pop-cultural semantics, where the deliberate adoption of an English word, over the native tongue, loads it with associative meaning. 
The title of his new exhibition 'Kenny', refers to the artist’s recurring experience when ordering coffee at Starbucks in the US. ‘Henning’ is consistently misheard as ‘Kenny’, raising questions around the artist’s identity. ‘Kenny is me, but of course he isn’t’ he says, ‘I am a sort of split persona. This is of great interest and fascination to me… Kenny also stands for an aspect of pop culture, bringing to mind Kenny from South Park, or Kenny Rogers.’
 blain southern

Mat Collishaw. the Grinders Crease. Blain Southern. Berlin. Jan 2019

Press Release: Blain|Southern is delighted to present The Grinders Cease, an exhibition by Mat Collishaw, his first with the gallery in Berlin. The exhibition testifies to the depth and breadth of Collishaw’s practice, with new and recent works including installation, sculpture, photography and painting.

Collishaw is a key figure in an generation of contemporary British artists who came to prominence via the group show Freeze in 1988. He has never shied away from challenging subject matter, exploring ideas around death, destruction and decay. The artist is known for works that reference art history and create a contemporary dialogue with past masters.

The Grinders Cease reflects his preoccupation with the vanitas theme, used since the Renaissance as a way of reminding viewers of the impermanence of worldly pleasures.The exhibition title is borrowed from the King James Bible, Book of Ecclesiastes, from which the Vanitas derives. The exhibition opens with a new work from 2018, Columbine, which animates Albrecht Dürer’s watercolour study Columbine from 1526. This wild plant is a multifaceted example of the transience of life, both in that it blooms only briefly and because the plant itself is poisonous. 
The exhibition continues through three separate light-locked spaces. In the first, Albion takes as its subject the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest, England. This centuries-old mythical tree has a hollow rotten trunk, and since the Victorian era its vast limbs have been supported by an elaborate system of scaffolding. Collishaw’s slowly rotating, almost life-size image of the oak is a ghost-like apparition generated by both cutting-edge laser scans and an antiquated technique of theatrical projection. Empty at its core, the image represents a living object which is trapped in perpetuity to present the illusion of life. The title also partly derives from
the idealised concept of an ancient England that probably never existed.

Last Meal on Death Row, Texas is a series of photographs of meals requested by actual prisoners prior to execution. Presented in the manner of Flemish still life paintings they are a memento mori, a reminder of the inevitability of death and the impermanence of life on earth. Another series, the Black Mirror works, have another effect on the viewer: capturing single figures whose forms have been subtly animated to move behind a surveillance mirror framed in elaborate black Murano glass, the works reflect the viewer’s image and thus draw a connection between the past and present.

The grand finale is provided by Seria Ludo, a 3D zoetrope sculpture. This kinetic optical illusion rotates at increasing velocity before strobe lights kick in and animate the scene, revealing a frenzied chaos of debauchery. 180 tiny figures can be seen carousing across the framework of the chandelier in a manic, drunken orgy. This is a party, but a desperate one, and when will it stop?