After Walker Evans Home
Stefan Hoenerloh has developed his own personal style and subject matter as only few artists do. His entire creative and artistic work centres around mostly naturalistic views of cities painted in the style of the old masters. They are details of an apparently vast metropolis, a sea made of stone. All the paintings are distinguished by an extremely reduced colour scheme limited to grey, black, white and brown tones.
All these buildings belong to an imaginary city which only exists in the artists' mind. Over the years he seems to wander through this fantasy city and to grant us an insight into this labyrinth of his thoughts in small doses. It ranges from dimly vaulted cellars up to views of buildings on which a beaming bright sky conveys something like airiness or hope as a source of light.
Even if many buildings look familiar, they are transformed into something more surreal on closer observation, rather than reminding us of real buildings. The impression of the familiar is definitely formed by the use of architectural construction forms in European architectural history (primarily Renaissance and Classicism) which remind us more of historical city constructions of the late 19th century in their structure, such as those found in Berlin or Vienna, for example.
An intense association repeatedly penetrates the consciousness: Piranesi’s famous series of copper engravings Carceri d`Invenzione (the invented prisons) from the mid-18th century, in which a very impressive fantasy architecture made of movable pieces of ancient architectural forms are joined together to form a gigantic labyrinth.
Contrary to Piranesi, in whose paintings human beings still appear as decorative pieces, Hoenerloh’s paintings are completely void of people. There is generally no trace of nature. The buildings appear uninhabited, black nooks and crannies or empty window openings often stare back at us and the glazed windows only reflect additional building facades. No curtains, no flowers on the window sills, no view into the inner rooms suggest the presence of people. Stone statues of human figures only occur very rarely in his paintings – as a reminder of life in this city? And built and inhabited by whom? Is this city frozen into timelessness, a witness of a lost culture? In the catalogue text, Peter Funken rightly calls it “a timeless world“.
Although Hoenerloh’s paintings often seem dim and stifling, they are also of an immense and dignified beauty. The houses seem to have grown and aged on top of each other under the patina of centuries, just like a dignified old giant tree.
Exhibition opening: Thursday, 03. 11. 2011, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Duration of exhibition: 03. 11. 2011 - 21. 12. 2011