Geist und Form: Lecture by Michael Markwick
Sofie Bird Møller (Denmark)
Valérie Favre (Switzerland)
Bernard Frize (France),
Maarten Janssen (The Netherlands)
Mark Lammert (Germany)
Michael Markwick (U.S.A. / The Netherlands)
Adriana Molder (Portugal)
Katharina Otto (Germany)
Jorge Queiroz (Portugal)
Thomas Scheibitz (Germany)
Curated by Jurriaan Benschop
The Grunwald Gallery of Art is pleased to announce Geist und Form: Ten Painters from Berlin. This exhibition will open to the public with a reception on Friday, August 30, from 6:00 – 8:00pm and be on view through Friday, October 11, 2013. Several events and public lectures will be held throughout the course of the exhibit.
Geist und Form gives insight into the broad spectrum of painting that is practiced in present-day Berlin. The artists show diversity in approaches, ranging from expressive to conceptual, and from fundamental painting to mixed media. Although each of the artists upholds a unique position, there is also common ground in the way all participants balance interest in the visual with inner content.
The work of these artists is based on visual qualities that can appeal directly to the viewer. On another level, the presented painters engage in artistic research that gives their work further meaning. The artists do not stop at purely formal issues, their work embodies an intellectual and spiritual understanding of their role as image makers. There is, as the title points out, both Geist und Form in their work, and a simultaneous presence of both these elements was a critical criterion in the selection of the ten artists. The intangible or "geistige" content is connected in a meaningful way with the surface, the optics and the texture of the work.
The exhibition reflects the diversity of painting attitudes in Berlin, that since the mid-nineties has developed into a major European art centre. There are conceptual positions, (abstract-) expressionistic attitudes, formal investigative approaches, actionist and performative ways of painting, process-oriented works as well as painting that proceeds from an existential interest. These attitudes are not divided strictly over the artists, but rather they appear in combinations and in overlap with each other.
The diversity shows that there is no such thing as a Berlin school of painting. But Berlin, with its developed artistic infrastructure and its unique history, serves for all artists as a relevant and stimulating context for their work. Each painter has spent a great deal of time in the city of Berlin. Its context of cutting edge contemporary work, alongside many comprehensive collections of modern and historical painting, creates a panorama of contemporary art that every artist affects in his/her own studio practice.
The show, with its diversity in positions, is regarded as an opportunity to investigate and rethink the notion of abstraction in early 21st-century painting. While in the early modern movements abstraction was connected to a specific style and program, if not ideology, in the present it is rather a quality that can be part of various visual languages, both figurative as well as non-figurative.
Abstraction in this show does not refer to a specific visual vocabulary, but rather it is regarded as a way of seeing, or an inner coherence that can be traced in the work of all ten painters in a different way. Thus the show proposes an a-historic use of the term “abstraction.” In the publication and in a side-program of lectures, talks and interviews, this motif will be further explored.
This exhibit and corresponding programs were made possible by The College Arts and Humanities Institute and Themester at Indiana University, and Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen.
Curator Jurriaan Benschop is a Dutch writer and art critic who has been based in Berlin since 2004. He contributes to Artforum International, the Belgian DAMn magazine and the Baltic online platform Arterritory.com. He works as a tutor at the Jan van Eyck Akademie in Maastricht, The Netherlands. Among the many shows he has curated are Klaas Kloosterboer, Conflict and resistance at Museum Stadsgalerij Heerlen (2004); Atelier Berlin at Presenca Gallery, Porto (2008); Disturbed Nature at Cluster, Berlin (2009) and Blick ohne Ende – Dutch artists in Berlin at Autocenter, Berlin (2010). He published The Netherlands a collection of essays on painting and photography De berg van Cézanne, 2006 (Cézanne's Mountain) followed by Wonen tussen de anderen, 2009 (Living among the others); a portrait of Berlin as an art city. Upcoming projects include a third collection of essays, on imagination and origin in post 1989 European art.
A short introduction to the artists
Sofie BIRD MØLLER (Denmark, 1974) studied in Munich with Günther Förg before moving to Berlin. She uses paint to interfere in with (fashion-) photography and other images of identity. The gesture of painting and the reaction to an existing image is essential to the work.
Valérie FAVRE (Switzerland, 1959) established herself in France before moving to Berlin, where she is a professor at the University of Arts (UdK). Her painting is rooted in expressionistic and older traditions and often contains elements of theatre. The series are usually based on a conceptual motive or approach that holds them together.
Bernard FRIZE (France, 1954) once described his work in three words: "The brush paints." In his conceptual approach, the brushstroke is traceable and appears as the main motive of the work. Frize transforms painting into performance, with the brush as actor. Emotion and feelings have no place in this work. Frize came to Berlin as a stipend of the DAAD and works both in Paris and Berlin.
Maarten JANSSEN (Rijswijk, The Netherlands, 1960) uses systems with dices dice or playing cards to make decisions about color and form of a work, thus objectifying the authorship. His minimal, reduced paintings contain a high degree of abstraction, but at the same time appear basic and very concrete. On ccasion, the painting crosses into sculpture or installation. Janssen was a resident at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien and works both in Rotterdam and Berlin.
Mark LAMMERT (Berlin, East-Germany, 1960) creates work that is just as much about what is visible on the surface as it is about what is concealed beneath many layers of paint. Blots, drawing and scratches on a white, black or colored surface show suggestions of dramatic, violent figuration. Lammert is a professor at the Universität der Künste (UdK) in Berlin.
Michael MARKWICK (Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States, 1974) uses nature as a motive in the creation of his works. His interest is not only in the image of nature, but also in the invisible and underlying patterns, and the cycle of life that can be experienced in nature. His works develop out of a gestural, almost performative way of painting. Markwick received his M.F.A. from Indiana University in Bloomington and moved to The Netherlands before settling in Berlin.
Adriana MOLDER (Lisbon, Portugal, 1975) regards herself as a detective of images, using various sources for her main motive: the human face. Characteristic is her use of thin tracing paper, on which china ink not only follows the artist's hand but also tends to run by itself and form accidental blots, which “interfere” in a meaningful way with the image. Her interest in the art of the early 20th century and in German Expressionistic cinema are among the reasons that brought her to Berlin. She was a stipend at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien.
Katharina OTTO (Weilburg, West-Germany, 1979) works on small-scale panels in which fragments of human bodies appear. Masks and clothes hide the full identity of the figures and create secrecy. There is a delicate balance between recognizable human figure parts or ‘bodyparts’ and colored form as such.The palette is reduced, the brush strokes seem to let through light that comes from behind. Otto studied with Thomas Zipp at the Universität der Künste.
Jorge QUEIROZ (Lisbon, Portugal, 1966) has developed through the years a unique handwriting, in which marks appear both consciously and accidentally. Architectural and landscape-like motives create, together with fragments of the human figure, associative compositions that appear as a state of mind, rather then depicting a well defined scenery. Queiroz moved into oil on canvas in 2012 after working predominantly on paper. He was a stipend at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien and worked for eight years in Berlin before, recently, moving to Lisbon. The oil paintings in the show are the last series he did in Berlin.
Thomas SCHEIBITZ (Radeberg, East-Germany, 1968) has a high in interest in the 'double', or the question in which way a visual motive can be read and recognized. The work grows out of a large archive of all kinds of clippings in which formal similarities are researched. ‘In grand gestures and bright colors, Scheibitz’s paintings appear light and have a feeling of pop art. However, they are very precise and concentrated in form, containing a hidden dialogue with older masters.