The earliest works in the exhibition Vertauschte Köpfe (Transposed Heads) by brothers Andreas and Konrad Mühe reflect how they deal with the death of their father, Ulrich Mühe, in 2007. Just one year later, Konrad Mühe starts to watch films with Ulrich Mühe in the leading role and to select sequences, which – with a new plot – produce a conversation that has never previously been conducted in this way about the relationship between father and son. Although the title Fragen an meinen Vater (Questions to My Father) suggests a dialogue, we hear only his answers. But is it the father giving them, or the actor in the roles he plays?
In his photographs entitled Februar 2007, es geht nicht mehr weiter (February 2007, There’s Nothing More We Can Do), Andreas Mühe reconstructs the exact situation in which he found out that there was no prospect of recovery for his father and that his life would soon come to an end.
ne 1 | NINA RÖDER
The start of the exhibition on the 1st floor forms a prologue of portraits by Andreas and Konrad Mühe; this picks up on the title of Hängung #24 at KUNSTWERK, Vertauschte Köpfe (Transposed Heads), borrowed from a story by Thomas Mann. The consideration of own identity and the medium of photography in its temporal conditionality is reflected in the 24-part ensemble Mühe-Kopf (Mühe-Head) by Andreas Mühe. At the same time, in the photograph Oskar I, he makes historical, biographical reference – which is also essential for the concept of the exhibition – to his grandfather, Oskar Hahn, who moved with his parents from Kornwestheim to Uckermark in 1937.
The video projectors moulded in wax in the Tome series by Konrad Mühe are another form of portrait. Reminiscent of death masks or an ancestral gallery, they refer here to the subjective projection contained in each narrative. His video sculpture Ava looks like a kneeling child, gazing with fascination into the play of light in a chandelier. Switched on and off in various phases, its flashes outshine the coloured images projected by Ava. An interaction emerges between the projected being and the old lamps that appear to have fallen from the ceiling: a dialogue develops between one’s own internal being and the external being of others, which is the basis of any identity formation.
ne 1 | NINA RÖDER
Inspired by the tradition of middle-class family portraits, representing finely coded relationship structures in the grouping of the subjects, Andreas Mühe devoted himself to his major project, Mischpoche (Tribe), from 2016 to 2019. Both of the largescale tableaus, of the families on his father’s and his mother’s side, are at the centre of the front section on the 2nd floor. Produced in complex processes, each comprising four generations, the artist inserts lifelike figures of those who have already died. Corresponding to the current age of the artist, they are likewise each represented at the age of almost 40. Although the deceased in the family appear to be brought to life, the detailed set orchestration of the people and staging emphasises the nature of the images as an artistic construction.
The tableau Hahn II, which shows the artist’s mother, theatre director Annegret Hahn, in the centre, strongly reflects the identity-shaping function of origin and family history for her two sons. In the combination of person and place, which also stands behind the objects used in Konrad Mühe’s staging, the view focuses on the home of his grandfather in the northeast of Brandenburg. Juxtaposed with the family portrait, Andreas Mühe’s subject is the fate of Oskar Hahn’s parents, Gottlob and Anna, who were murdered by the advancing troops of the Red Army in 1945, hung on the arch over the gateway into their farm.
Konrad Mühe’s video sculptures examine existential questions concerning the perception and impact of images and the construction of identity. Johannes offers a narcissistic human image, which alternates between self-reflection and the perception of an engineered ego. Although the video sculptures represent technoid objects and comprise furniture such as tables, cupboards and shelves as well as projectors, they immediately create the impression of living beings, and this is further emphasised by the artist’s titling of the works. Here, our animist tendency to attribute human characteristics or features to inanimate things, reacts to the shape patterns stored in our minds. In respect of Konrad Mühe’s video sculptures, these routines of perception create a personal basis of analysis, the content of which is deepened respectively in the combination of form, surface structure and film projection.
Whilst the works on either side of the family portrait on his mother’s side concentrate on the history of the Hahn family, the high hall area opposite the tableau Mühe II (groß) features pieces by Andreas Mühe, which focus on the picture of his father, Ulrich Mühe. The torso, which looks like an ancient kouros appears – installed at an elevated point in the room – unattainable and to a certain extent idealised, whereas the impressive portrait of his father is presented covertly behind an exhibition wall. The father image that this creates and the deconstruction of the same result in an evocative area of tension.
Alongside the objects used in the staging, aspects of family biography emerge more strongly in two further pieces by Konrad Mühe. In his two-part installation, Philipp, a semi-erect creature apparently lying on the floor looks at the last things in life. In the style of his ancestor, priest-mechanic Philipp Matthäus Hahn (1739-1790), they are represented orbiting in a cosmic model. Konrad Mühe develops another vanitas image in collaboration with his wife, artist Sonja Schrader. In the gesture of mutual support and carrying, the sculptural work Klakeur displays portrait video sequences of bouquets, which suddenly collapse and – without pausing – focus on the overlapping of events.
ne 1 | NINA RÖDER
In the video installation Weissglas (White Glass), we see Konrad Mühe himself, how he moves between the different levels of wall and floor. However, normal physical laws seem to have been suspended. The familiar concept of space is countered in a deceptive tease that is both confusing and fascinating.
The works from the Obersalzberg series, in which Andreas Mühe critically grapples with the pictorial aesthetics of the Nazi dictatorship, form the conclusion of the series of works comprising landscapes and portraits. Pictures of Hitler’s retreat in Berchtesgadener Land by photographer and cameraman Walter Frentz form the starting point. Andreas Mühe has singled out individual figures from Hitler’s entourage and had their posture imitated by actors, to examine how much of the “gesture of obedience” is still conveyed there.
In horizontal lightboxes and a largescale photograph, Andreas Mühe examines the Chernobyl liquidators. The helpers who risked their lives at the radiation-contaminated facility after the reactor disaster were referred to as “biorobots”. With the sculpturally staged representation of the people in the elaborate yet useless protective clothing, Andreas Mühe once again challenges the myth of heroism.
Line by line, Michelin Kober draws slender ink lines, freehand and yet not with a free hand, as the spontaneous gesture remains alien to her. Gradually, a straight line of diluted ink is laid on the page from left to right or from top to bottom. The next follows it, joins on to it, absorbing the fine particles of the pigment – wet-on-wet over an only delicate dry edge. Many more follow and move, filling the space, towards a thin strip of uncovered paper.
In the contemplative ritual of repeated action, the lines are gradually concentrated, layer by layer, into a picture surface. Colour progressions range from light, lucid tones to a saturated black of unfathomable depth. In between, a thin strip of the uncovered paper base remains, which shines from within itself into the visual space. And so the lines seem to want to pour all the calm and concentration, all the energy and time that has gone into them, into the mysterious radiance of a light in their midst.
Born in Frankfurt am Main in 1959, living in Stuttgart
Which of the lines was the first on the paper? Nobody knows. Starting somewhere, you follow the line with your eyes, recognise a certain melody in its oscillation and see how strongly it changes direction. You observe how one line runs towards the others, keeps a clear distance or approaches them at obtuse or acute angles. Then sometimes they cross or run alongside one another for a while, tracing their paths side by side and yet not in parallel. Some recede under a correcting white. In others, the oil from the colour penetrates into the paper. Little by little the view changes – enriched by the discovery of a pictorial language – looking at the whole and starting to grasp its complexity. And you know that you will have to engage with it anew when you come to the next drawing by Thomas Müller.
Born in Biella in 1933, living in Turin
Three image panels by Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto, one of the main exponents of Arte Povera, comprising black screen printing on mirror. The outer panels show the profiles of his twins, turned towards each other; between them at eye level in the otherwise empty space, a small dot. It remains open to interpretation whether the two women portraits are looking at each other or whether they are looking at the focused centre. When you move towards the piece, your own reflection appears. You see yourself observing and can thus reflect on the very act of observing. At the same time, you add to – complete – the piece as Pistoletto hopes, by linking it to your own (living) environment and reality.
Born in Baden near Wien in 1929, living in Enzenkirchen (Upper Austria) and on Tenerife
Two drypoint images by Arnulf Rainer from 1978: Depicted in the background are photographs of the artist in Posen, which are unclear or appear cloudy. Above this are numerous lines incised into the plate with an etching needle, both powerfully and in rapid strokes. On one sheet they follow the posture, on another they form a dense halo around the head. Alongside this is a painting by the artist from 1999, with a fleetingly sketched face in the centre, surrounded by coloured veils. What better way than this juxtaposition to demonstrate that Arnulf Rainer’s overpainting gesture is fundamentally not only to conceal and erase but also an act of accentuation and examination?
These works are portraits or representations of people in an indefinite setting or surrounded by landscape. You see them in action, remaining in movement, captured in snapshots. In his pictorial rendering of the motifs, Andy Denzler initially follows a concept characterised by the realistic but then takes the characteristic and crucial step for his work: creating horizontal tracks in the top layer of the still wet oil paint, as if he were blotting out anything accidental from the present, elevating the image to another, abstract level of time and reality.
The stroke betrays the movement of the hand applying the paint to the canvas: a short stroke with the broad brush, no impact. The paint is diluted, regardless of dark or light colouring, always soft. An approach repeated many times, stroke by stroke, layer by layer, creating a dialogue in the specific artistic setting, condensing in the centre of the image or producing a (dark) clearing in the internal space. The works produced by Erdmut Bramke in the mid-1980s differ from her earlier works, which are characterised by a linear, progressive style – at that time often in the direction of reading, from top left to bottom right – and which are reminiscent of her much-quoted phrase: she writes her pictures. The knotted structure now resolves into a shimmer that fills the picture, that creates space for an idea, an idea of summer or of the Forest of Fontainebleau.
Born in India in 1995, living in New York
The women are not allowed to leave the house. They remain trapped at home by their husbands or fathers. Or fear compels them to live in isolation in their rooms – fear of violent attacks, just because they are women in India. They earn a small income from traditional embroidery, for which their villages in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab are renowned.
Artist Spandita Malik (*1995), who comes from India and lives in New York, visited the women. The project to create a documentary series of photographs evolved into a collaborative project. Spandita Malik had the captured portraits printed on a fabric that is typical of the region and give them back to the women with a request to embroider them according to their own ideas. The series of works is entitled Nā́rī, which is Sanskrit for “woman” or which can equally denote a female object or mean “sacrifice”.
Born in Bergisch Gladbach in 1971, living in Leipzig
The landscape appears to be free of gravity in the real world. Its light overwhelms in brilliant yellow and azure blue; elsewhere it is soft, in gentle pastel tones. Artist David Schnell, who lives in Leipzig, breaks apart all the fixed elements that exist in a landscape. In his painting, architectural and plant fragments, geometric areas and abstract structures – underpinned by a perspective framework – create exceptionally dynamic artistic forces.
Born in Wendorf in 1930, living in Düsseldorf and St. Gallen
Does Günther Uecker’s “Spiral” bring to mind turning outward or turning inward? Is the power of the imaginary movement condensed in the middle or is that the point at which it gains its initial impulse to spread to the periphery? The shape of the spiral is recognisable even in the light base coat of the nail relief. With the carpenter’s nails that the artist drives into the board, the swirl gains a physically tangible presence. Above the metal shafts, the heads of the nails are coloured in white, so that the dynamic events also still themselves. The ambivalent interpretation of the artistic structure resonates in the harmony of stillness and movement.
Born in Heidelberg in 1981, living in Zürich
By nature, the shadows that loom on the building walls are fleeting and incorporeal. The traces of the objective on the bright surface are transient, as their representation will immediately change when the sun moves on. In her paintings, with the ephemeral play of light and shadow, artist Anna Krammig captures the exceptional in instants and locations that are, in themselves, unspectacular. At the same time, her fine painting, applied in glazes, gives a shimmer to what is depicted, carrying away viewers’ thoughts and connecting them with timeless internal images.
Born in Steyr in 1958, died in Vienna in 2016
In the colour-intensive paintings of Gunter Damisch, everything seems to float. Nothing is shown as factual. The dimensions of physical sizes shift from small to large and vice versa. The smallest microbiological forms look like huge celestial bodies, interspersed with symbolic elements that span areas and expand, which the artist himself has called “fields”, “paths”, networks or “shimmers”. Each picture acts like an excerpt from a vast, cosmic world, in which one thing matters above all: to provide an open space for things and ideas to grow.
In 2017, after the death of Nina Röder’s grandparents within one year, their house had to be cleared. The artist follows the decision-making process on which items to part with and which to keep as mementos, in her series Wenn du gehen musst willst du doch auch bleiben (When you have to go you also want to stay). Movingly and humorously, Nina Röder photographs the furnishings of the house and personal effects for the last time – presented performatively together with her mother and cousin wearing her grandmother’s clothes.
LEVEL 1 | MARIE ZBIKOWSKA
What do we remember, Marie Zbikowska asks, when we recall the perception of spaces, of structural circumstances from memory? The fragmentary nature of memory is reflected in her work process, as she starts by simulatively reconstructing an essence of something originally seen and in the next step allows the new construction to become the photographic subject. The submergence of remembered information, which is associated with its storage, leads to tackling of the aspect of archiving and the thematic examination of so-called time capsules, such as are also used in foundation stone laying ceremonies.
LEVEL 2 | LOUISA CLEMENT
Faceless portraits. Avatars. Empty bodies. The protagonists in the photographs of Louisa Clement are artificial beings, absolved of any identity. In the artist’s works, shop window dummies serve as stand-ins for people. The photographs – which at first glance appear visionary, fictional – paint a disconcerting picture of our present life. In anonymous encounters and in the unrelated togetherness of the figures, they raise the question of whether our concept of humanitarian belongs to the present or to the past.
LEVEL 2 | SABRINA JUNG
Following the tradition of appropriation art, Sabrina Jung uses previously reproduced images in her art: external materials with different temporal and medial contextuality. She creates collages of cut-out faces from current fashion magazines pasted onto photographic portraits of women from the 1920s to the 1960s. Whilst changed ideals of beauty come together in Schöne Frauen (Beautiful women), the artist addresses aspects of gender identity in the WoMen series. She uses feminine make-up to paint over historic portraits of women with androgynous-masculine features.
LEVEL 2 | ISABELLE GRAEFF
In 2015 after the death of her father, Isabelle Graeff returned to Great Britain, where she had studied. From London, she once again grew closer to the country. The photographic series Exit emerges from this: emotional, poetic pictures that reflect the state of a nation shortly before the Brexit decision. As a long-term project, her My Mother and I series has been ongoing for almost twenty years and paints a picture of the relationship between mother and daughter.
LEVEL 2 | ANDREA GRÜTZNER
Andrea Grützner’s Erbgericht series is named after the place from which it originates. The inn (named “Erbgericht”) that has operated in her family’s home town for over 100 years is documented as a place of many memories. Yet, “the physical structure of the space volunteers nothing about itself; it is our projections that give it colour,” the artist says. Using analogue technology she cross-fades selected sections of spaces with coloured shadows. In so doing, she transcends the perceived reality of the place, sometimes to the point of its complete translation into a pictorial/graphical image.
LEVEL 2 | CHRISTIANE FESER
The abstract, relief-like photographic subjects of Christiane Feser are initially based on elements made of folded paper, which the artist produces, assembles into modular structures and then – using light and shade to give depth to the image space – photographs. The two-dimensional photographic copy of the three-dimensional structure is sculpturally remodelled by cutting and folding. Here, the photographic image inscribes itself into the object and makes its examination a game of deception between surface and space.
LEVEL 3 | MÅRTEN LANGE
Mårten Lange – fascinated since his childhood by the lost world of the dinosaurs – travels to Mexico and visits the Chicxulub crater, where the asteroid struck, which ended the life of the prehistoric creatures. The pictures of creatures and landscapes in a perceived situation, retracing the long lost, are in stark contrast to The Mechanism, a group of works with pictures of a contemporary, urban world marked by an impersonal social coldness.
LEVEL 3 | MORGAINE SCHÄFER
The self-portrait is a key topic in the art of Morgaine Schäfer. She presents herself in poses that appear antiquated, which originate from the iconographic tradition of the subject and therefore relate to one another in a way that is almost anachronistic to “posing” for digital selfies. In her work, considerable significance is attributed to old mounted slides of family snapshots: like the material attributes in historic portrait painting, they appear as references to personal identity.
LEVEL 3 | JEWGENI ROPPEL
Jewgeni Roppel looks at the past and present of Ireland in his piece entitled Mothar. On his journey through the country, he asks which places, which buildings, which topographical features, which myths and evidence from historic times and which phenomena of the present day shape its identity. Building on Aby Warburg’s atlas of images, Mnemosyne, he chronicles the cultural self-concept of the country through his photographs in a way that is both illustrative and associative.
According to Australian mythology, the world as we know it was formed in a time when creative beings roamed the continent and on their way gave rise to land and water, the diverse flora, fauna and human world and to all elementary manifestations. The rules and principles that determine the life of the Aborigines to the present day can be traced back to them.
The English term “Dreaming”, which indeed suggests a finished period, can offer only a limited interpretation of what is described by the terms Tjukurrpa in the language of the Pitjantjatjara in Central Australia or Wangarr in the languages of Northeast Arnhem Land. This is because it also ends the wanderings of the creative ancestors but Tjukurrpa or Wangarr continues, incorporating past, present and future.
The creator ancestors remain ever-present and visible in the widest variety of formations of nature, celebrated by the people of the land in stories, in songs and in ceremonies. The traditions connect the people with the place of their birth, transferring to the living the responsibility for the welfare of the respective land and the community living on it.
Level 1 | Central Australia: Papunya
The start of the exhibition is dedicated to artists’ cooperative “Papunya Tula Artists”, which was founded in 1972 at the government settlement of Papunya, 240 km northwest of Alice Springs. This is where the contemporary painting movement of the Aborigines in Central Australia begins.
The paintings reflect pictorial elements that have previously been drawn only in transient form in secret ceremonies in the desert sand or applied to the body. They relate to specific places and mythical stories that are associated with them, which chronicle wanderings of the creator ancestors and their works. However, the secret content is protected from disclosure by shimmering patterns of dots or lines.
Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri was one of the first members of the “Papunya Tula Artists”. Early on, he experimented with dotted fields of colour and linear structures. Kanya Tjapangati has worked for the artists’ cooperative since the 1980s; the circular shapes in his picture refer to a place where creator ancestors have stayed. Paintings that are executed very subtly in colourfulness and structure are by Yukultji Napangati and Doreen Reid Nakamarra, who rank amongst the most successful members of the arts centre in the younger generation.
After political recognition of the land rights of Aborigines, many indigenous people moved back to their ancestral territories in the course of the homeland movement in the 1980s. Whereas the “Papunya Tula Artists” shifted their focus to Kintore and Kiwirrkurra, a new group formed in Papunya itself in 2007. From the “Papunya Tupi Arts” group, the exhibition displays a painting by Doris Bush Nungarrayi.
Ebene 2 | Arnhem Land
On level 2, the focus turns to Arnhem Land. The artistic tradition of the region is characterised by bark panels or wooden objects painted with natural dyes such as ochre, charcoal, chalk or white pipe clay. The materials come from the land, which is shaped by the tropical climate of the north with its rocky areas, forests, rivers and the coast by the sea. Here, rock paintings that are up to 18,000 years old attest the long history of ritual-related art in Australia. Its motifs and pictorial structures, which are newer but nonetheless several thousand years old, are still reflected in contemporary works.
The art of Arnhem Land recognises different style regions. The distinctive features of the work in the west – from the area around Maningrida – include a monochrome background in which figurative motifs filled with fine hatching (rarrk) are used. Long-limbed spirit beings represent an additional theme, which also appear in contemporary art as sculptures. So-called “hollow logs” – painted tree trunks hollowed out by termites – go back to the tradition of tree coffins. Whereas the design filling the entire space is generally characteristic of pictures in Central Arnhem Land, it developed only recently in the west. Artist John Mawurndjul has provided significant inspiration here.
Which stories from mythological tradition and which abstract patterns can be painted depends on affiliation to a clan and to one of the two hereditary lines (moieties), Dhuwa or Yirritja. It was left to artist Mickey Durrng from Central Arnhem Land to paint the clan patterns of the Liyagawumirr, which are applied including to the bodies of the dead during death rituals.
In the exhibition, works from East Arnhem Land – from the area around Yirrkala – refer to individual paths in the context of tradition, for example. The piece by artist Nonggirnga Marawili is based upon image rights and patterns from the clans of her parents and her husband. Since 2010 she has increasingly abandoned the hatching that is otherwise dominant in pictures from the region and she has released into the space the clan patterns handed down. Works on card take as their content natural and weather phenomena on the north coast of Australia, which can be traced back to the effects of creator ancestors.
Level 3 | till January 12th | Central Australia: APY and Ngaanyatjarra Lands
In turn, paintings on level 3 are presented in stark contrast. With them, the focus turns once again to Central Australia. Based on the model of “Papunya Tula Artists”, artists’ cooperatives have been established in other regions. As such, Aborigines from the Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara and Ngaanyatjarra language groups are also continuing the painting movement in their ancestral territories on the territorial borders of South and Western Australia. As demonstrated especially in paintings by Yaritji Young, Imitjala Curley from the APY Lands and Esther Giles from the Ngaanyatjarra Lands, they offer very different emphases here with their strong colours and expressive painting styles.
Level 3 | starting January 19th | THE MAGIC OF BLACK AND WHITE
In January, the presentation on level 3 is changing. A special exhibition by ARTKELCH Gallery is dedicated to the use of black and white in the indigenous art of Papua New Guinea and Australia. The focus here is on pieces by three artists’ cooperatives. Characteristic of the Oemi artists from Papua New Guinea are bark bast cloths in contrasting patterns, which originate from the creation story of the tribe and can be executed only by female chieftains. Here, naturally coloured pieces or strips are applied to materials dyed in river mud (or conversely dark pieces on a light background).
Essentially, black in the art of the Aborigines often represents the substantial, the material core of a creation story; white is regarded more as a spherical, spiritual colour. However, the extent of the difference in justification of the application of both the achromatic colours is demonstrated by the other two sections of the special exhibition. Paintings from East Arnhem Land in the north of Australia on wood, tree bark or paper – from Buku-Larrnggay Mulka art centre – follow a regional tradition, concentrating on white clay and chalk as well as black earth pigments as natural colours. By contrast, the acrylic paintings of the Central Australian Papunya Tjupi Arts centre are still governed by an impulse from the period when the cooperative was established, when reduction of the colour pallet was a result of the economic situation.
The particular interest of Alison and Peter W. Klein in the Polynesian bark cloths has doubtless emerged through their longstanding examination of sculptures by the Aborigines and, as with these sculptures, is accompanied by a personal fascination. Nonetheless, it was not a direct path leading from Australia to the Polynesian Islands and the tapa cloths; rather, their attention was initially drawn to Maori material culture in New Zealand, expressed mainly in carved and painted decoration on buildings or practical objects as well as in body tattoos. In Rotorua, southeast of Auckland on the North Island of New Zealand, they found a contemporary installation in the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, in which traditional handicrafts still continue today. This was also where they made contact with master carver James Rickard, whom they commissioned to produce a sculpture. It was designed by Rickard as a traditional memorial column and combined with aspects of German history.
Level 1 | Contemporary Painting
Meanwhile, the expectation of the collector couple of finding paintings with pictorial reflections of the traditional culture of the country in New Zealand in the same way as in Australia led them not to traditional artefacts but rather to contemporary works in the visual arts.
Darryn George (*1970) was born in Christchurch in New Zealand and belongs to the Maori Napuhi tribe. In his academic training, he devoted himself to the western abstract painting tradition. Only as his studies progressed did he conceptually incorporate his bicultural identity into his work. Since 2003, he has exhibited paintings in which he combines abstract painting as well as artistic and linguistic elements of Maori culture.
John Pule (*1962) was born on the Polynesian island of Niue and came to Auckland in New Zealand as a child with his parents. He is a writer and visual artist. His literary works, which have been in production since the 1980s, reflect the experience of migration and foreignness in a new country. His first visit to the home island of Niue in 1991 is followed by an intensive examination of its spiritual and material culture, in which the bark bast cloths provide a major incentive for formulation of his own visual language.
Level 2 | Tapafrom Samoa and Tonga
Samoa and Tonga, where the bark bast cloths are still produced today for special private and official occasions and where they form an important part of the cultural identity, are the origin of exhibits with bold patterns accentuated by overpainting. On Samoa, the bark bast cloths are referred to as siapo, as soap elei when decorated on the basis of templates, and as soap mamanu when painted by hand. Grid structures are characteristic of both design forms.
From ancient times, the bark cloths became especially important on Samoa as bartering objects and as objects of value on the occasion of births, marriages and deaths as well as at when chieftain titles were awarded. To this day, they are considered to be a distinctive gift for special guests or for family members who live abroad and they are essential at official and private occasions.
On the islands of the Tonga archipelago, the tapa cloths are coloured predominantly using pattern boards or stencils. Here, the bark bast cloths have been stretched over the raised bar and the colour has been applied with impregnated cloths. In the further processing, specific aspects of the pattern have been accentuated or additional elements introduced. Tonga is the only region in the world where historic events have influenced the design of bark cloths. As such, Spitfire representations on a textile fragment from Sammlung Klein are reminiscent of the aeroplanes that the Tongan queen acquired to support the English in the Second World War. Today, bark bast cloths are no longer significant in everyday use on Tonga. However, as objects of value, they are still produced in large numbers and certainly for stock.
Level 3 | Niue, Fiji, Futuna
Tapa art on Niue is documented only between 1865 and 1900. Patterned tapa fabrics probably first came to the island with Samoan missionaries. The first discrete patterns are known from tapaponchos, which are cut on the basis of the Tahitian model.
The bark bast cloths from Niue were painted exclusively by hand, initially with free compositions. Since the 1880s and possibly under the influence of a local painting school, image structures have developed on the basis of grids. The significance of these works in the local cultural context remains unclear. Production of bark cloths was discontinued on Niue as early as in 1900. However, they have survived in museums and collections and remain an inspiration to descendants to this day.
On the Fiji Islands, the bark cloths – known here as masi – had many uses. They were used by men as loincloths or turbans. Oiled and smoked, they were the sign of a chieftain. They served as mosquito protection but also as flags to adorn people or weapons in dance, war and festivals, or as a medium of exchange within Fiji society to seal relationships between chiefdoms.
Relationships that have existed for centuries between the individual Fiji Islands, Tonga and Samoa have influenced the local tapa traditions. Stencils cut out of leaves were used for the design of patterned cloths. These generally helped to create serial decorations, which were combined with strips or abstract natural forms.
On Fiji too, the importance of tapa production has declined. However, there are still occasions today when large quantities of the fabric are presented.
The residents of Futuna and neighbouring island Alofi speak a language that is closely related to Samoan and also refer to bark bast cloths as siapo. It is therefore no surprise that some of their tapa production also follows the Samoan model: cloths produced jointly by two or more women and glued together are printed with templates and then painted by hand. For use as a dance apron – to this day the clear distinguishing feature of traditional dance groups – a lower horizontal strip remained unprinted and was designed freehand. The whole characteristic style of the decorations used here is in clear contrast with the overpainting of the preprinted cloth with bold lines.
In other patterns, wickerwork from the Micronesian Marshall Islands or even carpets of European origin have provided ideas for very distinct painting, comprising very complex compositions of patterns and among the most richly varied forms of decoration from the entire Pacific.
In Hängung #19 Enrico Bach presents new paintings that have been created within the last year. Rectangular, overlapping colour fields form the basic structure of his compositions. They intersect, are staggered behind one another or appear to push across one another, creating the illusion of a spatial structure but one that is incomprehensible in its depth. Edges of areas that lie in a supposed lower layer of the picture set linear accents, particularly at the picture edges. With spatial and light values in the colouring, Enrico Bach condenses the complexity of his painted image spaces. Colour progressions that generate the impression of shadows and structures that produce an apparently tangible materiality allow objective aspects to enter into his abstract painting.
Enrico Bach faces the option of infinite variations with artistic thematic questions, which can be seen in pictures from three new series of works in Hängung #19. In the works in the RS series, large screen areas reveal the topic. In pieces from the HM series, the artist uses metallic gloss colours and typographical elements, whereas the PS series is characterised by strongly differentiated structures, which themselves are symbolic.
Level 0, Level 1 und Level 2 | Franziska Holstein
The artistic work of Franziska Holstein is highly process-oriented. In the thick material application and in the relief on the surface, the paintings on canvas, o.T. (M4, 2012) and o.T. (M2, 16), indicate multiple processing of the compositional structure. By contrast, pieces from the o.T. (45) series emerge from processes that are both artistic and manual craft. They produce panels in acrylic paint, in which the paper image base is surrounded by layers of colour applied on both sides.
In the work of Franziska Holstein, the principle of working and reworking multiple times allows recourse to existing works, which become the resource, the stimulus, for new pieces. From 2014, Hängung #19 presents a seven-part series of lithographs on paper and a 19-part series of hand-offset prints, which refer to division ratios or formal structures from previous paintings.
Franziska Holstein’s systematic way of working is expressed not least in two new works, which have been created for Hängung #19; wall piece o.T. (64) spreads over the area in combinational lawfulness, whilst the artist presents a three-dimensional work for the first time with the o.T. (FP 3D) series. The installation on level 2 at KUNSTWERK comprises around sixty elements of a 170-part series based on an area divided into six fields and their folds.
Level 3 | Ayan Farah
In an interview, Ayan Farah defines her work as pictorial, even if it does not conform to the usual concept of what painting is. Here, the foundation or basis of her pictures is not the usual canvas that is commercially available; she uses found, often historic materials, which already carry their own (life) story. In places, fragments of embroidered ornaments or lettering emphasise a personalised quality to the material. In the choice of colour, she also pursues her own direction. On her project trips, she collects minerals, plants and soils, which are charged with a specific character of the place from which they were taken and consequently also comprise more than a commonly available pigment. The work in the studio resembles a chemical experiment, as only little or no influence can be exerted over the absorbency of the materials and the colour reaction, especially when various substances are combined. This is also often true if the artist exposes the coloured materials to sunlight over a prolonged period and thus bleaches them again. In the method of colouring and of combining the material elements, Ayan Farah refers to African handcraft traditions, which ultimately connect in her pieces with elements of western abstract art.
Even years later, we remember the impression of a room even if we have forgotten details of its design or furnishing. Its expanse, its light, the sound of footsteps, maybe even the smell remain things that can be recalled in thought – not only as an image but rather as an emotional entity that is anchored in the physical memory. Similarly, the subjective, physical experience of a room enables us to imagine spaces and mentally to move within them, even though they are only imagined or in produced in model dimensions.
The fact that Hängung #18 – Räumlichkeiten (Spaces) takes as its content the perception of a room and makes connections to architecture in general is due to a small but crucial structural change at KUNSTWERK. In the exhibition, the artistic contributions of Rolf Wicker and Katja Ka – in different dimensions – reflect sculptural and architectural aspects. The works by Sinta Werner and Julius von Bismarck contain altered spatial perspectives. Architects Peter Weigand and Lukas Lendzinski, who work under the company name Umschichten (Restructuring), experiment with a modular system and present different plastic spatial constellations during the exhibition period.
Level 0 and Level 1 | Altered Perspectives of Space
In the the works presented in the entrance area and on level 1, altered perspectives in and of the space form the central aspects. The Top Shot Helmet of Julius von Bismarck provides a bird’s eye view of oneself. Physical and optical-visual perception of space and spatiality are thus uncoupled from each other and demand a high level of adaptability in movement. Multiple perspectives also characterise the photographic works of Sinta Werner, who combines two and three-dimensional aspects with one another and thus understands how to provide a mixture of real and engineered image realities in their simultaneous architectures.
Level 2 | Space Between Architecture and Sculpture
The works of Rolf Wicker and Katja Ka are presented in the hall on level 2. As artistic confrontations, they meet in the tension area of architecture and sculpture but differ essentially in the scale of their works. Wicker’s installation is extensive. Its spatial designs, derived from the example of the structural shapes of the Basilica of St Clement in Rome, can be experienced in the flesh as you move and linger within them. By contrast, the Retrouvagen by Katja Ka have model dimensions. They take the character of fictitious architectures, the monumentality of which is conveyed imaginatively. The title of the series of works, which is derived from the French “retriever”, in English “to find”, refers here to what is found both in the material used and in the creative process.
Level 3 | Changeable Space Systems
With the contribution of Lukasz Lendzinski and Peter Weigand, a so-called “open project” is included in the exhibition at KUNSTWERK for the first time. The name of their architectural practice, Umschichten (Restructuring), is the agenda. Their concepts, which are newly developed for every place and mostly temporary demand, are based on the use of existing elements that can be returned undamaged after use. At KUNSTWERK they allow different special constellations to emerge in three phases from reusable construction modules, each of which produces new spatial experiences. Their project is participative insofar as visitors are able to follow the changeability of the system for themselves. The restructuring work takes place in mid-March and early May.
The most extensive and significant bundles in the Sammlung Klein (Klein collection) include around 20 works by Irish American artist Sean Scully. Meetings in his New York studio also gave Alison and Peter W. Klein access to the works of his wife, Liliane Tomasko. For the artists and the collectors, who are now friends, there was no doubt about combining presentation of the Scully block with a dual exhibition and thereby adding a personal touch for the anniversary of KUNSTWERK.
Alison and Peter W. Klein have built up a block of work by Sean Scully, which is unique in Europe and which traces his artistic development from 1973 to the present day. Sean Scully, who was born in Dublin in 1945, is one of the world’s most important contemporary artists. After influences from Op Art and minimalist art, his work since the 1980s has displayed unmistakable imagery with orthogonally aligned colour fields and bands condensed in layers of paint. The colour application and colour tone here are emotionally charged. Abstract painting with Scully becomes the artistic equivalent of human experience and feeling.
Liliane Tomasko, who was born in Zürich in 1967, creates her artistic work from the private sphere. Clothing, blankets or bed sheets form figurative references in her painting. In her new works, the figurative provides only the structural basis for her paintings, which form pictorial spaces of weaves of graphical and painted elements with gestural strokes.
For the first time, the exhibition at KUNSTWERK shows an interleaved presentation of both positions, which allows artistic dialogues between their works to arise independently of a chronological arrangement.
The beginning of the exhibition traces the subjective signature in the abstract. Two paintings by Sean Scully, with complex then simplified grid structures from 1973 and 1974, reflect the permeation of the handwritten aspect into the work of the then 28-year-old artist. The change into colour application, which can be seen between Diagonal Inset and Overlay #9, already points to a departure from cool artistic calculation. In the time leap to Desire or Desired (2007), which carries with it all the tones of desire in its colourfulness, the emotional power that lies in Sean Scully’s painting is revealed.
The works by Sean Scully spanning three decades are answered by a series of current drawings by Liliane Tomasko. In the spontaneous flow of her work, line structures of different densities arise, which are the most direct expression of the artistic personality in their gestural character.
The continuation of the inset, the picture-in-picture concept of Sean Scully, initially forms parentheses between the first and second level at KUNSTWERK. In the combination of his paintings and pastels with the works of Liliane Tomasko showing “dark corners” (window sills) or blankets with striped patterns thrown over each other, painting qualities and the fineness of colour value in the works of both artists become the theme.
Sean Scully’s Day Night (1990) is a painting of extraordinary physical presence. The middle section of the triptych stands out. Unbridled power is displayed in the materiality of the colour application, which charges the open structure of black and grey fields with dramatic energy. The dark and severe colourfulness typical of the period of origin is in contrast to current works by Sean Scully and Liliane Tomasko. After an existential break in 2013, both have continued their work with new stimuli. For Scully, the Landline series begins in this period, with horizontal bands of colour. In her work, Liliane Tomasko finds new imagery with an expressive air, the vitality of which is expressed in a series of large-scale paintings.
Two solo cabinets present different aspects in the work of the artist couple. In a retrospective view, Liliane Tomasko’s paintings from 2002 show the starting point of her artistic discussion. Clothes thrown down form the inspiration for a subtle translation of objective into pictorial. The structure and tonality of her drawing series Floating Stacks (2010) develops from the subject of piles of clothes or stuff. Sean Scully’s Mooseurach (2016) paintings contrast photographs that negotiate basic principles of his painting in the other artistic medium.
If you remember your dreams when you wake up, images and feelings often produce strange, puzzling pieces of scenery. These are scenery from your own experience, which take on a life of their own in dreams. If you recount what you have dreamt, the “story” generally seems confused, as the images strung together in the dream are not subject to the principle of what is logical.
There are daydreams, pipe dreams, night-time dreams, bad dreams… Whatever they are about, they involve things, events – consciously or unconsciously – being combined in thoughts, which do not or do not yet exist in reality in this form. They are disconnected from reality, from what is real at present, and – when it comes to night-time dreams – fairly enigmatic. If we remember a dream then we often ask ourselves what we have dreamt up; we look for the “where” and the “why”, questioning the sense of the seemingly nonsensical, as the dream often seems confused when it is retold. We look for meaning, generally without finding an explanation.
The basis for the selection of the works presented in the exhibition is a connection between the imagery thinking in dreams and the production of mental images in art. The exhibits on display are not “painted dreams”; they are not attempts to reproduce dream experiences. Even the indirect representation of dreams, which is based on narrative or textual transmission of dream events, plays no part in the selected works. The pieces have been selected on the basis of their relationship to dreaming as pictorial thinking, which can piece together various things and is subject to no temporal restrictions, no logic and inner congruity. They present image worlds, which bring together motivic, artistic elements – set pieces from memory and experience – in a free, poetic way, forming their own image worlds. Perspectives of meaning and explicability of the pictorial connections generally remain open here, in limbo – in the picture as in a dream.
The present selection of pieces from the Alison and Peter W. Klein collection unfurls scenarios of the enigmatic and mysterious in pictorial landscape and stage spaces. On entering, visitors encounter a painting by artist Inna Artemova, who comes from Moscow and lives in Berlin. Her work combines architectural motifs – which give way to the pictorial – with figurative. Buildings perceived in the present give rise, in flashes of memory, to scenes of life in earlier times. Things separated into past and present come together in her pictures.
On the next storey, we encounter a series of pieces by Berlin artist Michael Wutz from the years 2010 to 2013. Drawings of skulls and bones, which are characteristic of his work, belong not only to the realm of the morbid. With his meticulous method of working, Michael Wutz seduces the viewer into close observation. Illustrators, explorers can be found in the drawing with motif islands on a white base, recording a finding, like archaeologists. The artist himself explores traces of his pictorial motifs of skulls and bones in ethnology, art history and cultural history, for example such as the story of the head-tree of Yimpang in India, which is believed to create a connection between present and past, between the living and mythical ancestors. References to Christian iconography are also recognisable. With one drawing, you think of the place of Jesus’ crucifixion, “Golgatha”; with another, of the empty grave; and on to “doomsday”. Even in the large, artistically highly complex panoramas, there is therefore not only an apocalyptic nature; they also include the aspect of the present and of new beginning.
By contrast, the starlit sky in the three-part picture by Brigitte Waldach allows the imagination to wander into the distance only at the first glance. With the stellar constellation of 9th May 1976, she addresses the hours before the death of RAF terrorist Ulrike Meinhof. The vaguely recognisable recumbent figure is a quotation from the police photograph, which was also used by Gerhard Richter in his picture cycle. The terms inscribed in the sky reflect the biography of Ulrike Meinhof and the increasing radicalisation of a political utopia.
The video work by Lucas Davidson almost literally places own identity in the limbo between existence and transience. He removes the image-carrying layer from a photographic self-portrait and makes it float in water. In the almost magical dance of the image haze, fragments of the figurative, the corporal, emerge repeatedly and only temporarily.
On the second floor, the pictures painted by Moritz Baumgartlfrom Stuttgart in the style of the old masters lead into a real-surreal world with stage-like pictorial spaces, the surfaces of which initially confront the viewer. If you manage to overcome these in the imagination and to enter the room conceptually then you will wonder – between military vehicles and bombs, observed by representatives/extras of church and secular power – whether you actually want to be there.
After this and all around the entire exhibition wall of the second storey supporting beam, pieces by David Lowe, Maik Wolf, Ola Billgren and Allen Anthony Hansen present landscapes that are disconnected from reality and contain surreal elements or characters from “black romanticism”, the spooky. On the outer walls of the supporting beam, the landscapes are surrounded by generally figurative pieces with surreal, fairytale and symbolic content, such as the photographs of Dominic Rouse and Jerry Uelsmann on one side, from which the exhibition cover picture also comes. On the other side is the large paper cut carved out with a scalpel by Charlotte McGowan-Griffin, followed by the nude photographs with their intriguing perspectives by Arno Minkkinen.
Three beings converge in “Wolf-Sheep-Priest” by Deborah Sengl and Ingo Pertramer. Finally, the wolf appears again as the animal from the world of fairytales and myths in the painting by Sabina Sakoh, which proves to be a symbolic picture with many mythological and allegorical references.
The works just mentioned have clear narrative qualities: when looking at them, a “story” is assumed without being fully distinguishable or revealed.
Similarly with artist Jörg Mandernach, who lives in Ludwigsburg: on and in front of the main wall of the second floor, he has produced an installation specifically for the exhibition, which is entitled Der Traum vom Verklingen des Raums zwischen Bild und Bedeutung (The Dream of Fading of the Space between Image and Meaning). With surrealist human-animal beings, with dimensional shifts, with pictorial and written symbols that play with the deciphering of meaning and the indecipherable, his installation programmatically represents the subject of the Welten tremens (World Dream). The artistic material upon which his creation is based consists of diary-like notes that are closely linked to his own experience. By contrast, there are pictures communicated through media, such as excerpts from magazines and newspapers as well as words and texts. The disparate, the experienced noted in snippets, and the alien all converge in a new, poetic entity.
On the third floor, narrative largely takes a back seat. With defamiliarisation effects and motif overlays, the works by Ralph Brueck and Bettina Krieg go to the limits of content readability and thereby point the perception to its own spaces of imagination. The photographs of Mayumi Terada and Sascha Weidner, both of which contain the motif of trees, appear in the perception like a rapid alternation of positive-negative effects, so the works are fascinating individually and unsettling in their juxtaposition. In the painting by Sebastian Burger from Leipzig, mythological figures can be seen, such as Ganymede abducted by the eagle, in a synthetic, abstract-figurative image world in which the elements form “surreal alliances and grotesque dialogues”.
It is often only a brief moment that holds something unique: a particular sense, a particular mood that you would like to keep forever. The instant then contains something great. The transient, fleeting nature of the moment experienced attains fundamental and timeless significance.
Sean Scully’s painting Green Pale Light inspired by the landscape of Upper Bavaria is reminiscent of own individual landscape impressions that mean something special. They have a limited, often only short duration. Thus, the mist over the meadows disappears as soon as the sun rises higher. What you then want to retain is not the details of the topography but rather the sound of the whole thing, which is associated with a personal feeling. From here, it is only a small step to the title of the exhibition: ein Moment – ewig (One Moment – Forever). With it, a thought space opens up, which contains a universal human experience, namely the desire to make the experience of a special moment last – at great moments, to be able to keep the fleeting and transient forever.
Those who come into KUNSTWERK and into the exhibition will certainly come with such an experience but also know that it relates not only to the experience of nature but also to encounters with people. Accordingly, the path laid by Sean Scully broadens and also leads to figurative pieces in the collection. In the exhibition, around 50 pieces by 20 artists from Germany, Austria, Belgium, Great Britain, Canada and the USA reflect extraordinary moments of experience in different ways and make them last in pictorial form.
Level 1 | Moments of Existential Depth: Sean Scully and Dieter Krieg
Internationally, Sean Scully is one of the leading abstract painters of the present day. Since his professorship in Munich in 2002-2007, he has worked not only in his studios in New York, London and Barcelona but also in Mooseurach in Upper Bavaria. This is where the painting Green Pale Light was created. It picks up on the colourful nature of the scenic environment but also captures a special, manifestly melancholic mood at the same time in the consonance of color. Sean Scully condenses the momentary impression in an essential way by translating it into pure painting: in coloured areas arranged horizontally and vertically with open contours, which vibrate softly in the colour tone.
In his image series, Sean Scully pursues a specific, underlying artistic idea and intensifies it by differentiating it. However, he does this not only purely in the abstract interplay of artistic possibilities. As art historian Armin Zweite puts it, Scully is mainly concerned with emotionally charging the intangible fabric of his painting with structure, mood and the application of colour. Each picture is closely linked to a personal experience, an emotional state.
The painting Green Pale Light is part of the Wall of Light picture series, behind which lies the observation of constantly changing appearances of light on a wall. Against this, the arrangement of the coloured areas and strips, which is characteristic of Scully’s pieces, forms other structures in the etchings. In Cut Ground Red, it is marked by the outline of our cultural landscape. Doric is inspired by the culture of ancient Greece.
The existential depth in the pictures of Sean Scully laid a path to Dieter Krieg in the stock of the collection. Having been a professor at the college of art in Düsseldorf for many years, his work is known mainly for large-scale pictures with the powerful application of (often trivial) figurative motifs and writing. The Bilder für die Dämmerung (Pictures for Twilight) from the last phase of his life are set apart from these by the absence of colour, without losing the obsessive power of the work. They are drawn and written in charcoal on paper, glued onto canvas and collaged into the shape of the image frame. They appear like a radical and uncompromising statement, encapsulating the essence of his life’s work.
LEVEL 2 | Now! Accents of the Momentary
Whereas the combination of Sean Scully and Dieter Krieg on the first floor arises from the similarity of the basic approach of the two artists, a range of works is unfurled on the 2nd floor, which employ the medium of photography or emanate from it in painting.
Edward Burtynsky’s photography of centuries-old rice fields in China picks up again on the theme of the cultural landscape shaped by people but also relates its particular aesthetic to the scope of human interference with nature.
The works by Leipzig artist Christiane Baumgartner are very atmospheric. As she recounts, she was never able to rediscover the exceptional light that she found at the strange scene of a ship graveyard on the River Medway. Placed adjacent to her work is a painting by Udo Nöger that is devoted to the phenomenon of light through painting.
Derelict woodsheds in the countryside of his home in North Carolina painted as fading photographs with ruined surfaces bring together opposite poles such as present and past in the painting of young New York artist Damian Stamer.
Photographic notations of fleeting but special encounters with people in everyday life and on journeys enter the multifaceted image spaces of Eva Wagner, whose work is displayed in an installation on the main wall of the 2nd floor.
With an impression of a bird’s-eye view, Andreas Gefeller offers a view that is both documentary and fictional of a New York flat roof full of graffiti.
The illusion and perception of the “single moment” in photography is finally quashed by Paul Graham in his Street Photography, in which he underlays the three-part image sequence with a specific choreography of everyday life.
Lastly, the temporal extent of a supposed moment is revealed in the photographs of Annette Kelm.
LEVEL 3 AND STAIRWAY |
Sommerbild 16 by Erdmut Bramke opens the tour on the 3rd floor, which carries the subtitle Beyond Reality. With gestural brushwork, concentrating the web of strokes layer by layer, Erdmut Bramke makes the colour space shimmer and thereby conveys a scenic impression in a basic artistic idea that goes beyond reality.
The photographs of Thomas Weinberger literally exaggerate reality, as he combines night and day shots of identical townscapes in one synthesis.
The exhibition concludes with photographic works by Sean Scully, which again seek to retain motifs and moments through the eye of the painter: shacks und corrugated sheet sheds on the Scottish isles of Lewis and Harris or the stratification of beach, sea and sky in the Landline photographic series, which he translates into painting that resonates far into the room in the picture Landline Green White.