Katja Pfeiffer - Irrlicht
The room-filling installation „Irrlicht“ (ghost light) follows up formally to Pfeiffer’s previous works such as „Backdrop“, which was realised at the Galerie Pankow in April/May and as a part of the Housetrip show at Berlin’s Artforum 2007. With „Irrlicht“, materiality and arrangement of single elements are amplified, pushed forward and carried to extremes. Painting and sculpture are fused.Pfeiffer has painted 11 HDF boards, cut out outlines and arranged them consecutively in the spatial depth, thus creating a mazy room of illusion. The motives (an entanglement of scaffolds, trees, branches, backings etc.) are cut out of the boards just like silhouettes. They overlap and offer exciting perspectives. Areas of light and shadow alternate and build up a multilayer and convoluted „pictorial space“. This game between light and shadow and the translucence of different light sources present the backround for the title of the work.
With „Irrlicht“ formal analogies can be considered to stages for raree shows and especially to perspective dioramas, as have been popular in the 19th century. Mocks and temporary architecture, which can be found at filmsets but also in regular street scenes, present further references of the installation. Some themes that appear in Irrlicht derive from the filmset of Fritz Lang’s famous film adaption of the Nibelungenlied from 1924.
Opening: Friday, January 11th 2008, 6 pm
Exhibition: January 11th to February 15th 2008
Miriam Vlaming - You're wearing a mask
In her first solo exhibition at our gallery, Miriam Vlaming presents a group of new paintings that interrelate as regards their content by the subjects of disguise and hiding. The large-sized work “Homeland” exposes the view from her childhood-room to the buildings of a commonplace middle-class village. As in most of her works, buildings stand for emotionally charged places of retreat. They serve as a protecting mantle from the world outside. At the same time, they attain a life of their own: windows can resemble eyes which either observe the beholder or consciously lock up in front of him. The other works in the show – a clan-portrait that unites the generations of a family, a group of clowns who take each other pickaback and falter between humour and tragedy or a magician with a bunny’s head – are examples for a subject that draws through her work as a central theme: the suspense between man and animal respectively between civilisation and nature. Vlaming’s works, which are always painted in tempera, attain their magic effect by the combination of presentation and camouflage, seductive beauty and incompleteness at the same time. Vlaming creates a particular and multi-layered world in which citations of myths and fairy-tales meet real elements. Her specific compositions which fuse an accomplished and almost abstract style with concrete motives without interruption enable an interspace of reality and dream. Here, not only the colour becomes independent by its application, but also the beholder’s gaze is send on a rewarding journey.
Opening: March 1st, 6 pm
Duration: March 1st to 29th 2008
Robert Barta - WORLD CLOSED USE OTHER SIDE
With the second solo show of Robert Barta we are opening our new space in Brunnenstraße 185 which provides more possibilities for the exhibiting artists. The exhibition space of 100 m^2 enables a broad and diverse presentation of wall-related works (painting, photography, video) as well as of sculpture.
The Berlin based artist Robert Barta (*1975 in Prague) has studied at the Akademie der Künste in Munich and the San Francisco Art Institute (MFA). Barta is intensely concerned with objects that are based on everyday items and our contact with them. However, he doesn't think about them as functional objects but rather as media for permanent thought-provoking impulse. Most of his works evoke mistrust towards rationally coined experiences and transmit a subtle humour.
From this attitude derive objects that are difficult to distinguish from their prototype in size and appearance but whose function is turned around or invalidated. So is the basketball hoop whose net hangs from a height of 3 meter down to the ground and offers a rather pitiable sight. Once the ball is pitched in, it remains inside the net and perverts the mechanism of shooting and scoring.
The ironic contact to everyday objects however gives way to the questioning of social norms immediately. The guestbook on a podium refuses its service when it starts vibrating as soon as someone tries to write inside. Thus, no legible comment can be put down and the title “Keep your Opinion” can be taken literally.
Opening: Friday, May 16th, 6 pm
Exhibition: May 16th to June 21st
Felix Müller - Holz!
Holz! Felix Müller entitles his new group of works clearly and briefly and hijacks the beholder into the German woods. During the last couple of years the Berlin based painter has developed a technically mature and distinctive but obstinate pictorial world. His works are precise and slithery, easy and dire, contemporary and attached to the past at the same time. Desire appears but the disaster is close.In the woods then! And where stylized stems support the vertical line optically, there is an emotional abyss. Black holes gape, eerie bunnies bare their teeth and young ladies are swinging axes – all of this in muted hues with candy-coloured emphases. There are juvenile demons that Müller shoos through the woods – ghostly transparent girls, figures from children’s books, and the Grimm brothers are close as well – their evil wolf however, would be a too straightforward companion. Felix Müller rather thinks in the manner of Carroll’s “Alice” or as the figures in Hauff’s spellbound tales. The actions undertaken by the protagonists range between mysterious and obscure. This is underlined by the titles of the works, such as „Bunkerhase“ (bunker-bunny) or „Hackordnung“ (pecking order), which point to a remote martial occurrence in the enchanted forest. Müller sends Lolitas out on search amongst the trees, lets them shave their legs in a pond or makes them eavesdrop at ominous holes in the ground. But whoever gets too close to them lives in danger. Not only because of the axes – Müller also causes the beholder to recoil because of his technique. His works combine delicate and painterly backgrounds with graphically cool and plane figures. A new element in the show Holz! is the step into the third dimension: His newest work, which is realised directly on the wall, makes the figures hover in front of the wall as wooden reliefs.
Opening: Thursday, April 3rd, 6 pm
Duration: April 3rd to May 3rd 2008
This exhibition presents a collection of paintings and drawings from the Spanish painter Santiago Ydáñez. It demonstrates his skill with the paintbrush and the variety of genres he addresses in his work. From the oversized canvas paintings to the small pencil drawings, Ydáñez portrays a sense of expressionism as well as a detailed study of the subject.
Santiago Ydáñez is predominantly known for his close-up self-portrait paintings. Those paintings use the face as a genre, in order to reveal certain aspects that would otherwise remain too subtle to perceive. The concept that the face is a suggestion of presence can also be used to describe his other work. His paintings of animals and landscapes are carefully analyzed and convey a sense of abstract vastness which directs the viewer to formulate their own interpretation. The extreme expressionism of his work gives the image power without it being necessary to understand anything.
The thick gestural brushstrokes and the vast size of his paintings create an energetic effect while portraying abstract spaces within the interiors for the viewer to discover beauty and understanding. The giant rabbit painting, for example, has a tender and fluffy appearance, disregarding the fact that we are probably going to eat it, but it also has an ironic aspect: since it is so large, it seems that is about to eat us.
Ydáñez paintings give meaning to a new form of expressionism in which the painting is not controlled by meaning, but rather by the ability to impress and encourage individual interpretation.
Opening: Friday, June 27th, 6 pm
Exhibition: 27 June to 2nd August 2008
We are proud to present Justine Otto’s first solo show at Martin Mertens.
In the last few years, Otto acquired international recognition with her fine paintings.
For the show at Martin Mertens, Otto produced a brand new series.
The title derives from T.C. Boyle’s book “Tooth and Claw“ which tells of small flaps (= coincident) that seem to be little and insignificant at first sight but, in effect, do change or influence life tremendously.
One of Otto’s central themes - “children and young adolescents“- also characterises this new group of work.
Otto predominantly used life models to paint the young women that appear on almost every canvas. However, she does not aim at producing a psychological portrait of these individuals. Instead, she acts as a director who dictates her models (mostly girls) what to do and positions them in certain settings, just like she has done in earlier series.
Even though the scenarios reveal a certain naturalness, some of them appear rather surreal when observed closer.
One young woman, for example, picks birds in the bushes and beads them into a necklace for herself.
Otto’s figures move in their own space, absorbed in their actions and in a dream-like state, without noticing the often so close viewer. The pictorial spaces show enlarged details of an indefinite environment, either natural or urban.
The piece „Tooth and Claw“ to whom the show owes its name depicts a dead wolf behind a young girl, who wears a crimson dress under a fur coat. Contemplative but self-confident, she stares into space. Wild animals such as birds and wolves are a consistent theme in Otto’s paintings. They are domesticated, picked up or killed – mastering nature and attaining freedom, instinct and drive?
Finally, Otto’s enormous pictorial ability must also be pointed out. The handling of light and the boundless play with colour contrasts and harmonies provide the paintings with high quality regardless of theme. The creation of skin colour out of more than a dozen tones, for example, is extraordinary. Faces and bodies become effervescent 3-dimensional “landscapes”. The almost impressionistic surfaces created by confident and energetic brush strokes reveal a diversified play of colour. It is only from further away that each respective subject matter becomes visible.
Opening: Saturday, 6 September 2008, 6 pm
Exhibition: 6 September 2008 - 18 October 2008
Antje Blumenstein - die hälfte des himmels
“It is trivial that we can neither prove nor disprove the existence of a supernatural creature. But this simply means that the only supporter of their existence the ‘wish’ is. This, then, doesn’t negate their existence, but the belief in them.”
We are proud to present Antje Blumenstein’s second solo show at Martin Mertens. In the exhibited group of works, Blumenstein deals with themes of religion and its handling in regards to the implementation of non-intrinsic purposes. Belief as a reassurance in regards to moral questions, or its abuse through religious fanatics constitute problems, that also influence our contemporary secular society.
Images and headlines of popular media are juxtaposed with current texts or quotes of art history and checked for their “usability”. Blumenstein employs ruptures, reallocations, and ironic inversion either to reveal social networks of our cultural imprint or to explore fictions and real-life examples. Black figures dominate the main room of the gallery. Monks –borrowed from the “Tomb of Philippe Pot”, a 15th century stone sculpture- are spread on islands. Seemingly lamenting, they turn their faces to each other.
Executed in glossy PE-film, they, however, appear as the embodiment of the Bad in “Star Wars”, or remind the viewer of slightly freezing individuals that are immersed in a conversation.
Across from them, the writing “half of heaven” shines in a bright light. Is it the Good that’s shown here, similar to a dualism? Is “half of heaven”, a term coined by Mao Tse-Tung, a welfare promise? Or is everything put into perspective in the end in regards to our conscience of our own contingency as evoked by the piece “es sterben immer nur die anderen” (“it’s always the others that die”). The Styrofoam-figure is overgrown with floral forms and resembles a tomb.
Blumenstein uses various types of media to create her pieces that vary in form, material and genre. Sculpture and installation are as important as painting and collage. “Cheap Consumerism” materials and utensils from a hardware store, like Styrofoam, polyurethane foam, a light tube or packaging material are presented next to classical oil painting – “Plato terrorists” next to “religious unmusical” (Blumenstein).
Quote: Ernst Tugendhat, „Über Religion“ in Anthropologie statt Metaphysik, Munich: Beck 2007
Opening: Saturday, October 25th 2008, 6 pm
Exhibition: October 25th – November 29th 2008
Matthias Kanter - nachbildern
Matthias Kanter’s oeuvre is characterised by the exploration of colour and its impact.
In his approach, concrete objects like paintings of the Italian masters, beach chairs, or simply the ticket offices of the Venetian transport company inspire Kanter to his abstract and figurative paintings.
The evident Italian influence emanates from a two-year-residence in Venice during which Kanter engaged intensely in Renaissance Painting.
It is, however, the theme of copying -whether images or objects- that dominates Kanter’s oeuvre. One series of Kanter’s paintings refers to concrete masterpieces of art history and their colour nuances.
Kanter rearranges the different shades into new fields of colour and creates completely new paintings. During these “observations” figure and space become insignificant, colour the content of the image.
The second solo exhibition of the artist in the Galerie Martin Mertens summarises this long-time examination and exploration of colour which marked Kanter’s previous oeuvre in an ever recurrent manner.
Opening: Friday, December 5th 2008, 6 pm
Exhibition: December 5th 2008 – January 3rd 2009
Christmas Holidays Dec. 23rd until 27th 2008
Open Dec. 30th and 31st 2008 and Jan. 2nd and 3rd 2009