【Leo Gallery | Online Showroom】Lost and Found: Doris Ernst Solo Exhibition

Leo Gallery
Mar 31, 2020 1:47PM

Lost and Found

Leo Gallery Online Showroom | Doris Ernst Solo Exhibition

Opening to Online from:2020.3.26 8PM

Dreams can keep on continual journey and see different wonders in the world.

A longing in childhood guided Doris Ernst into a profession which required constant travel, and finally brought her into the palace of art. Every few years, Doris would move to a different city according to her working arrangements, fathom the situations there and get into intense work.For most people, being able to work all over the world seems like going on constant free journeys.However, in her working circumstances, Doris needs to handle various relationships simultaneously in a tense rhythm, and what’s more, to face international catastrophic events.

A life experience in New York opened a path to liberty and art in Doris’s spiritual realm.

In the numerous galleries and art exhibitions in New York, she gradually found herself and saw the role of life in this complicated world.

Clouded vision, Acrylic on Canvas, 70x70cm, 2020

Doris's works clearly show the special traces of contemporary design and art. The Bauhaus-centric line structure and the logically meticulous linear system are combined with superimposed layers of plane structures and form a unique visual dimension. Within the seemingly endless permutations, each individual organism exists on a huge chessboard in a traceable way, seeming like different modern cities.

Like the staggered lines on a city map, colors express various worldviews. From the prosperous modernity of New York to the dense vegetation of Africa, from the simplicity of Northern Europe to the traditionality and implicity of the East. It seems that some kind of metaphors and dramatic properties that are common in Renaissance works appeared in Doris’s art. Black lines are used extensively to cover the surface in many works. Different forces are surging under very controlled emotions. Seemingly substantive sharp sights pierce the canvas and reach some kind of abyss. Some kind of deep but hopeful power peers into the inner heart from the paintings. Order and agility are presented on seemingly crazy lines simultaneously. When you get close to these works, it seems th at you are able to probe into the humanity emanating naturally from each unique individual at any time.

The exhibition selected nearly forty Doris Ernst’s works during 2017 to 2019 to open Leo Gallery’s first online exhibition in 2020. Doris will also donate the proceeds of four works in the exhibition to Wuhan, which is affected by Coronavirus, to express her love and support for the people in the catastrophic area.

Stripes 1, Acrylic on canvas, 100x100cm, 2016

Doris Ernst

Doris Ernst (born 1966 in Germany) currently lives with her family in Shanghai and Berlin. She is a self-taught artist. Her intuition and creativity are an expression of her living, traveling and working in various cities around the world like New York, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Addis Abeba, New Delhi and Japan. These different cultures, people, societies and their art forms have influenced her as well as the friendship with many artists in these countries. She has participated in a several exhibitions in Shanghai.

Doris work has been influenced very strongly by her experiences living in mega cities. The density, noise, speed in contrast to nature, calmness and slowness. Her path towards making her own art started with the strong desire to finding herself again after long years of being a full time working mother of 3 children-working in the clearly structured field of law, working in humanitarian assistance which included visiting Haiti after the earthquake as well as refugee camps in Africa and Syria. She was looking for a way to cope with the experience of joy and disappointment in her personal life as well as sorrow over the death of loved ones. All of this combined with global politics, deteriorating environmental problems, divisions in societies as well as the speed of developments in the age of internet and artificial intelligence brought her to the point where she needed a means of expression to get the constantly spinning thought out of the head. Dealing with chaos and order. Her work is dominanted by the motto “Trying to make sense”. Which includes the wish for finding hope in a complex world.

Doris loves to work with spatulas instead of brushes. Applying paint like that always includes an element of randomness and surprise which again is a similarity to life where perfection can never be completely be planned.The apparent order of the stripes and the grids is however not regular. The stripe as a symbol of routine are however never the same and in this representing individuality. Overlaying layers show the multitude of different influences we face in our life.

Doris Ernst

Her work also includes a series of works on paper called “fading”. Which deals with the issue of not losing yourself, your integrity, your values and personality under the constant outside pressure.

Another series of works including a collection of found objects and markings on crushed/crumbled paper as well as prints with broken pieces of tiles from demolished houses deals with the question of transience and vulnerability.

The current situation /crisis clearly shows that rationality is (at least not alone/ by itself) the solution. Humanity, emotions, caring for each other empathy and love are need as well. Struggling and standing together while sharing our concerns and thoughts will give us the hope we need to find a brighter tomorrow in the chaos of our time.

Stripes 3, Acrylic on canvas, 100x100cm, 2017

Leo Gallery dialog Artist

LG: You used to live and work in many cities. We are curious about in what conditions that you have been to so many places. Could you please describe it?

Doris: I come from a small town in rural Germany near the Dutch border. My father worked in a factory and we did not have enough money to travel when I was young. So when I started to earn my own money I was very eager to see the world. That´s also why I started in a special studying program that included law, politics and languages and also working abroad. During my training I did internships abroad in Marseille, Vancouver and Moscow in the Gorbachev era. Then at the beginning of the 1990th I moved to New York City where I worked mostly dealing with questions of international law but also restitution to mostly people from the large Jewish community who had been to send to concentration camps and people who had claims top property that was taken away from them by the Nazis in the eastern part of Germany. While living in this great wonderful “world city” New York I was at the same time directly confronted with German history. Which was no longer just a textbook in history lessons at school and my father´s stories but real. On the other hand New York was like a revelation and the place where I discovered the art world.

The sun is shining again, Acrylic and printing ink on canvas, 100x100cm, 2017

Doris: After this I basically moved to another country every 3-5 years, working either in law or also in cultural exchange in cities like Amsterdam, Stockholm, Houston (Texas) plus some short term assignments in Jakarta and New Delhi.

Before coming to Shanghai my work in Berlin brought me a complete new inside which was the field of humanitarian assistance. Evaluating and organizing help projects after the earthquake in Haiti as well as attending conferences in Africa and visiting refugee camps in Ethiopia/Somalia, being the liaison for UNWRA and visiting aid projects in the Palestinian parts of Israel gave me a whole new understanding of priorities in life. It was also most impressive to meet so many engaged and idealistic people working for NGOs and the United Nations and other international agencies. Working the Syria desk for 2 year and meeting displaced people in Jordan and Lebanon, hearing their stories made and seeing how traumatizing war is made me re-evaluate my own look at the world.

Finally, I came to China which meant to me living in a country where I have almost no common means of communication with most people due to the fact that I failed to learn the language properly.

I started on this long journey because I was curious, and I wanted to learn but also in the hope that I would find the place where I would really like to settle. To date however I am still a traveler and seeker.

Constant struggle, Acrylic and printing ink on canvas, 100x100cm, 2018

LG:What experiences would be the stimulus and motivation of your artistic creation while you were roving around different cities?

Doris: The most obvious is my direct surrounding. That is nature, the light, architecture, colors and lines. It can be the shiny glass facades and regular shapes of skyscrapers but also the giant trees taking back the ruins in the jungle of Cambodia. It´s the red of China and the bright colors of India versus the black and white of the “cool” and hipster world of mega cities.

Secondly, I look at the old, traditional art and handy craft which to me tells you a lot about the soul of a country and its people. Here you find shapes and patterns but also history, believe and meaning.

Hazy, Acrylic on Canvas, 70x70cm, 2019

LG: There are plenty of accidental and unintentional details in your works, but there is an order in the chaos overall. Could you give some opinions on order and chaos?

Doris:You think you have a fixed plan for tomorrow, and you have it all figured out and then something comes up and during the day nothing is like you planned. That is what happens when you put the spatula into the paint. You have an idea as to what it will look like when you scratch it over the canvas or paper but you can never be completely sure.

In a lot of my works you can see a certain regularity and repetitiveness. Which is like our life. There are days, hours and, seasons. But then again, they are all different and they are never exactly like we expected or planned. We cannot foresee what will happen. When I put my spatula in the paint and create stripes it is this “intentional randomness” that I love. The repetition is calming the thoughts and gives me the sometimes much needed peace of mind and a sense of order and regularity.

But it is the randomness – no stripe looks like the other, they are all different – that is what makes the stripes interesting. It´s the unpredictability, the element ofsurprise that make out the essence of the painting and creates the necessary tension. How boring would it be if we could foresee everything and everything would always go according to plan. At the same time, we love and need a certain order. In complete chaos it is hard to find the way.

Giving the painting an order or putting a sort of grid on top of the painting that is what gives us hold or security, but at the same time we need differences and individuality to thrive and have room to evolve and to be innovative.

Frustration, Acrylic on canvas, 100x100cm 2019

LG: How do you transform realistic views into visual language?

Doris: That is a very difficult question because I don´t. I always find it interesting if people look at my paintings and tell me what they see in them. Because I almost never imagine real/realistic things when I create my works. I somehow express my feelings through the painting but never an image.

But this is the beauty of abstract art that everybody can see something different in it. It does not have to be the same thing the artist wanted to express. To me an abstract painting fulfils its purpose if it stimulates any kind of feeling or inspires an image or just a thought in the viewers mind. Which also underlines the idea that we are not all the same but yet again individuals with our own wonderful imagination.

Stripes 2, Acrylic on canvas, 80x80cm, 2019

LG: What would you describe the tendency of your artistic language? Emotional or rational?

Doris: It is both because that is exactly the fight in mind.

My education or better to say my educational choices are foremost based on rationality. I loved mathematics when I was in school, I chose to learn Latin with its wonderful structure and logic whereas I kind of hated French with all these terrible exceptions that did not make sense. I studied law and I to a certain extend believe in rules and regulations.

You can find all of this in my work, the order, regularity, repetition, straight lines and clarity of colours.

This side of me is in constant struggle with my emotions. I am a very sensitive person, I need feelings in my everyday live, I need smiles or even sometimes anger can be o.k., I need and feel a lot of empathy and love. But feeling cannot only make you happy but also hurt a lot.

Division 2, Acrylic on canvas, 100x120cm 2018

Doris: Looking at my paintings with the ideas of order and chaos in mind you could also describe rationality as the orderly part and emotions as the chaos. If you completely let your emotions rule than you could end up in disaster. The ups and downs can be quite high but also very low.

If you also listen to reason, be rational and don´t let yourself be touched too much by all the misery than you have a sort of grid that gives you hold, boundaries, principles, values and hope.

Colorful 2, Acrylic on Canvas, 100x120cm, 2019

LG:Where were you during the virus outbreak in China, what did you experience, and what role did art play in your life during this period?

Doris:During the virus outbreak I was in Shanghai. I experienced all the uncertainty, the lock down restrictions, the sadness over the victims, saw the fear in the faces of the people, the constant overflowin the news and social media coverage brought us – all the up and down we all had to go through.

It is an experience that none of us will forget. It goes deep into the bone to the very heart of our existence. We were so used to have our own free choices und suddenly everything was put into question. We always reflect upon our priorities in life and suddenly we see ourselves just longing to get our sometimes boring, normal live back that we had put into question so often before. Normality has a value.

Crisis situations can bring out the best and worst in people. I am happy to see so much solidarity. I hope that soon we can leave our isolation, encounter other people again and see smiles not hidden behind masks.

My art helped me to structure my thoughts in this period where we all felt tense lost our inner balance. Things that were important before suddenly had no meaning anymore. I made a painting before Chinese New Year that had many bright colored stripes. When I came home from my office driving through the deserted streets of Shanghai, I put a lot of dark shades on top of the stripes. Then by scratching off the black some of the brightness of the colors came back and that is where we are now. Waiting for the first spring colors of nature. Hoping that the situation will get better not only here in Shanghai but in all effected areas.

Confusion (red), Acrylic and printing ink on canvas, 100x100cm, 2019

LG:What do you think the relationship between art and life ?

Doris:Over the years somehow my life felt so heavy with the responsibilities for my family, in my job and with all the stuff I had – a whole household of a 5 person family. I kept on thinking of the lightness of life/of being when I was younger – like the title of the book by Milan Kundera. Art gave me back this lightness without being superficial.

When I go into my studio I manage (most of the time) to leave a lot behind like my “to-do-list”, conflicts, concerns. The spinning of all these thoughts stops. I manage to be in a state where there is nothing I MUST do but lots of thinks I CAN do. Then colors and pattern and creative ideas take over. They sometimes the start spinning as well – but it feels more like being on a light cloud, floating, like an opportunity instead of being dragged down and stressed.

In meditation you try to relax and empty your brain completely. When I am working on my art I explore myself. I am not driven by others, by expectations, by circumstances and obligations. I am not reacting, I am creating.

Happy days, Acrylic on canvas, 100x120cm, 2019

Doris will also donate the proceeds of four works in the exhibition to Wuhan, which is affected by Coronavirus, to express her support to the families of all the brave doctors, medical workers and all volunteers who paid the ultimate price for helping others to get through this difficult time.

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