Blushing Fields on Different Grounds
Kindred by Choice For this exhibition I invited seven fellow painters living and working in Leipzig. I chose to show works that articulate a relation to abstraction and objecthood. The artists on show are strongly rooted in the traditional techniques and materials of painting, as well as in its historical context. We follow different means, work from different motivations, but are all open and curiously concerned with the questions and possibilities of painting today. There are several different formal interactions between the selected works, sometimes occurring on the verge of figuration like in the works of Katharina Schilling or Rebekka Gnädinger. For example, in Seifen 2013 from Katharina Schilling, one finds references of pop-art. The Neighborhood from Rebekka Gnädinger, on the other hand, reminds one of cubist paintings from Fernand Léger or Sonia Delaunay, as well as colorful African textiles. A similar but less figurative approach is seen in the work of Henriette Grahnert and Maria Schumacher, where the abstract forms and ompositions respectively form metaphors for daily life or serve as a self-reference to the act of painting. The colors and forms play their part on the stage of the canvas. The work Keeping Secrets 4 from Henriette Grahnert, for example, points to the problems that come up in personal relationships – mocking the earnestness and mysticism ofthe abstract expressionists along the way. But by its formal qualities, Henriette Grahnert’s work also relates to the works of Zora Berweger or Heide Nord, in which such references to the abstract art of the postwar era are applied in different ways. For example, in the minimalist, almost metaphysical work ohne Titel (Schilder) from Zora Berweger – two pieces, one black and one white, of similar form but with different surfaces are leaning against the wall. Here the qualities are foremost sculptural and material. In her contribution, Heide Nord deconstructs this minimalist approach in Aussicht auf Unsterblichkeit I, reassembling it with parts from traditional painting material, adding additional light as though she doesn’t want to rely on its promised lucidity on the metaphysical plane. In the exhibition, the viewer can perceive how different influences and backgrounds of the artists function as a cross-fertilization onto and into each others’ work, emphasized by the tensions and connections, both formal and conceptual, that are generated when the individual works are shown together.
Green and Pink; these are the colors that Leipzig brings out the most. The green is not always fresh. Sometimes it has yellow in it, it can be muddy, a bit dusty and turn into this unnatural emerald green: the poisonous copper that has a fair hiding power. The pink changes in accordance with the green from a glowing magenta towards the old rose of a thick heavy carpet.
I noticed that one common factor of the artists that I have come across since I moved to Leipzig in 2010, is that they are real “workhorses”. They serve their time in the studio as a job, as a daily routine.To deal with painting is not an easy thing, you need your own hours, engage in reflection, fixate on your quest and be open to questions of painting at the same time.
For me they all search for a certain kind of space, a freedom, a depth that lies in the common and the personal but is connected to a craftsmanship in art and a both intuitive and conceptual debate with art and its historical references and predecessors. An ambiguous and fluid way of always returning to painting as a discourse and language.
The tendencies in painting in Leipzig are pointing towards different forms of abstraction, something which can’t be denied is happening all over the place in the contemporary art world. I do think that there is something that sets these Leipziger artists apart, however - their immersion in the materials and the ambitious way to work through these materials.
There are similarities in the use of color, in the references and the importance of materiality. With different approaches, leaving the formal similarities as an adhesive surface to connect us all. I think this connection goes deeper, not necessarily at a conceptual level or a formal one, but maybe just now having Leipzig as the center of our working life.