Sunday, September 30, 2007

Markus Draper

August 3–September 30

The architecture of German cities registers the passage of time and the impact of sociopolitical upheaval more acutely and literally than almost any other European context. A dynamic admixture of selective preservation, radical reconstruction, and elegant decay endows cities like Berlin and Dresden with an archaeological character that is as politically charged as it is riveting. Within this context, German artist Markus Draper’s multimedia work is unusually attuned to the way architectural sites can register, preserve, and help us come to grips with the deep social trauma that is a central part of Germany’s recent history. The centerpiece of this show is Draper’s room-size installation Skulpturenkino: House of Darkness (all works 2006). Inside a simply constructed wood and particleboard building is a DVD projection that shows a maquette-size version of the installation, bleeding and shaking violently while a deep voice intones “This is the house of blood” in German. Though Draper’s disconcerting splatter-horror installation is ostensibly based on the House of Horrors in Gloucestershire, England, where Fred and Rose West tortured, killed, and buried young girls, the work operates more broadly as a meditation on the way inanimate objects become emblematic of historical episodes and restage those events for visitors and viewers. Working in the aftermath of National Socialism and the fall of the Berlin Wall, Draper demonstrates a keen, deeply self-critical awareness of his country’s history and uses his multimedia practice as a way to interrogate that inheritance, adopting architecture and the landscape as his principle iconographic motifs. Like House of Darkness, paintings such as Überleben im Chaos (Surviving in Chaos) and Berliner Hütte (Berlin House) represent a profound, unflinching consideration of what it means to emerge from a period of historical trauma. More important, the exhibition advances a politically productive, historically conscious idea of how to face the past lucidly and ultimately reimagine a new sense of national belonging.

—Christopher Bedford

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Lucas Lenglet

Older work allready but finally a Photograph...
Lucas Lenglet´s birdcase at Rosa Luxembourg platz in Berlin.
Integrating in the Berlin landscape with all of it´s graffitie.

John von Bergen

Galerie Lena Bruening is very pleased to present "THE ITCH", the gallery's second exhibition with American artist John von Bergen. His new installations reveal a relationship between objects and forms that shift from the representative to the abstract, exposing actions of distress that offer more questions than answers.

Upon entering the space, the visitor is greeted by a sculpture of an oversized handle attached to an ambiguous object, caught in a supernatural introjection with its pedestal. A quieter project, "Ghost", involves an antique sword that has been innocuously embedded into the gallery wall. Though one must have faith in its presence, its form is obvious, alluding to the wall as a kind of skin. The largest installation, titled "Chase", begins to consume the entire corner of the gallery, where a wall 3 1/2 meters in height is in the process of being stretched into a seemingly form-deceiving membrane.

Since the 1980's numerous essays and discussions have surfaced concerning science-fiction and horror films within a theoretical context, while some films from this genre take direct influence from cultural theory. We may consider this when viewing the exhibition, but can also see ways in which architecture plays an important role for von Bergen's work, as the involvement of a room or building becomes uncanny through such psychological encounters. Just as process and context are relevant to his "UFO-UMIS" drawings, von Bergen's sculptural projects take an interest in these questions. But at the same time "THE ITCH" approaches formal concerns as objects become instruments for testing belief, and suggestive of absurd and surrealistic phenomena fused somewhere between the real and the unreal.

Galerie Lena Bruening, Berlin

Friday, September 14, 2007

Tal R: the sum

Tal R, who has just turned 40 years, has reached a point in his career where he is to some extent taking stock with this project at Louisiana. The 17 paintings of the exhibition, five of which are brand new and created specifically for this show, complete his long-standing project that has been unfolding since 2004.

As a kind of selfimposed rule, or professional handicap if you like, Tal R has chosen seven colours as a basis for the works – brown, red, black, white, pink, yellow and green – in order to focus deliberately on the fundamental principles of painting. All the works measure 2.5 x 2.5 m.

But Tal R is by no means a ‘system-painter’. With his romantic, sometimes exceedingly laid-back painting style, he is too fond of narrative and storytelling for that. Using a splashing brush and slapdash layering he paints gleefully in impossible materials, with undisguised clashes and references in the content both to broader cultural and historical currents and to the private sphere.

The aim is to say something with painting, not about painting. This balance between narrative and quite fundamental exercises in the basic scales of painting provides the cornerstones of the museum’s exhibition.

Besides the 17 paintings shown in museum’s South Wing, the exhibition presents a major graphics project and seven showcases in each of the above-mentioned seven colours which enter into a dialogue with the artist’s work.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


"Unknowing Man's Nature"

In the French tradition one can always tell a great painter by his use of color. In this sense, French artist Jules de Balincourt is a great painter. The unearthly radioactive neon colors he uses bring life to the political angst and paranoia culture we have come to inhabit since 9/11. In his third solo New York show, de Balincourt presents new paintings that move away from his previous apocalyptic fantasies to examine the inherent banality that lies beneath.

Zach Feuer Gallery, 530 W. 24th St., (212) 989-7720. Sept. 5–Oct. 13.

Monday, September 10, 2007

What is Condoleezza Rice to Luc Tuymans

On Tuymans
by Peter Schjeldahl November 14, 2005

What is Condoleezza Rice to Luc Tuymans, the Belgian who, at forty-seven, is the most influential painter of his generation? A small, fuzzy picture of the Secretary of State, glowering, jumps out from the mostly large, fuzzy pictures of decidedly bland subjects now at Zwirner, including a bed canopy, tree trunks, a table setting, and a pair of ballroom dancers performing in the Texas State Capitol rotunda (everything must happen somewhere). It’s like Tuymans, famous for generating poetic intensity while painting about very little, to execute the occasional shocker (a Holocaust gas chamber, once), as if to test the resilience of both his style and his audience. As an artist, Tuymans follows—and improves on—Gerhard Richter in setting epistemological soft traps for viewers, exciting and then confounding interpretive cravings. Growing intellectual frustration overlaps dawning aesthetic pleasure in subtle beauties of extraordinary touch and color. (The pale hues in this show—lavender, plum, peach, citron—are practically aromatic.) In the end, your questions aren’t answered; you just can’t remember them.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Wilhelm Sasnal-Bored to death

“(...) that what he saw was by all means new, but so hopelessly boring that he was often seized by sadness, and he began to regret not having been mauled by a tiger in Ceylon’s jungle.” (S. I. Witkiewicz, Farewell to Autumn)

“We are bored in the city, there is no longer any Temple of the Sun.”
(Gilles Ivain, Formular for a New Urbanism)

It is definitely not going to be boring! – Such words guarantee us distraction. They are a promise of something that allows us to forget the monotony of everyday life at least for a short while. Generally, we are happy to give up our routines and let go of them for a defined period of time – of course only to a certain extent. So what could a promise of the opposite mean – boredom until death.

Boredom. We are damned to remain in the everlasting same. Caught up in stagnation and without any impulse for change, we succumb to the omnipresence of steadiness. Every repetition, every extension in temporal continuum has the potential to bore. This potential is not eruptive, but covers our complete perception like an oily film. Like the perpetual recurrence of sunrise and sunset. Even the biggest sensation turns into a wasteland if it is continuous. Time extends into infinity while we stay tangled up in banal situations. Always the same view from the window, always the same chats with the same people, always the same faces on the street. A fierce reaction resembles more a hiccup than tension released through a thunderstorm. Dark clouds threaten throughout time that doesn’t seem to end although we always carry it around with us, always getting our hopes crushed – rather unsatisfying. But maybe time will stop for us once. Why? Maybe just to mock us.

We often dream about spectacular changes. But we want to be honest: exorbitant monotony, in which we are trapped like a fly in a spider’s web, gives us the feeling of safety and stability. If we happen upon something unexpected, we turn away in horror. The stable framework of our lives threatens to collapse. Changes are always a risk. You never know where they will lead.
Thus it is better to stay in one’s ancestral place, remain in the rhythm of everyday apathy, with its comfort of work. Do we really expect something? Most of the time, we choose that which is tried and tested – boredom. We live in boring times. The usual canon of rules and principles is like the chorus of the omnipresent jingle that can be heard in every shop. He who starts singing it, has lost the magic formula that invites us to expect the unexpected. Hypnosis and solidification, fruitless persistence – this is the time in which the ability to wonder naively has been lost. Frozen time, stagnation, a slanting plain of which we unstoppably slide down and desperately try to find something to hang on to. Always anew – so what to do?

Is your life boring? How can you understand it better? Do you have a choice or is the only thing left for you to turn to an arbitrary snapshot that is coincidentally nearby? Do you see more than just the usual boredom? Let’s try it with the pictures by Wilhelm Sasnal.

Can something be discovered in them that awakens our secret longings? Let’s look at the layers of paint as conflicting powers. Frozen picture, energy that has come to a standstill, cut out of the stream of events and turned into a solidified fragment by the artist. Unchangeable and attached to the moment of its origin via observation. And eternity shines into blankness.

But we should take a closer look. We discover patches that are blurred, subtly transfigured. Something disconcerting springs from them, and there are processes running that arouse our attention. Unidentifiable doubts sneak into the general banality. There are faces that successfully conceal themselves, blurred moments that awaken our curiosity and promise the end of boredom. Do they annunciate a breakup of conventions, a destruction of the union? Do they even radiate danger? The energised calmness contains inner tension, the conception’s irrationality evokes panic, a feeling of insecurity and an apprehension of decay. What worse could happen to us? But we have to pay attention. To remove the brew of life’s changeable parts that constitute the distress could mean setting free much worse agonies – unmeasurable boredom and a destiny that cannot be accomplished.

Kamila Wielebska