Press Release May 2017
ACHENENBACH HAGEMEIER presents
INSTANT KARMA BEUYS / GERKEN / HALLEY / KNOEBEL / LIEBLICH / MADSEN / OTWAY / WESSELMANN
David Achenbach and Anna Hagemeier are pleased to invite you to Instant Karma, the first group exhibition in the new Düsseldorf space. Eight international artists are presented in contrast to one another– four have established positions and four are young, emerging artists.
Joseph Beuys (1921 – 1986) had a decisive impact on the Düsseldof art scene. He was one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, using his artistic abilities in a variety of capacities. He won the most renown as a performance artist, whose happenings and performances attracted a lot of public attention and were quite controversial. He additionally worked as a sculptor, draftsman and art theorist. At the end of the 1970s, he developed a broadened notion of art with his conception of “Social Sculpture” uniquely defined as gesamtkunstwerk -- an invitation to help to creatively shape politics and society.
Ina Gerken (1987) completed her studies at the Düsseldorf Kunstakademie as a master’s student under Katharina Grosse in 2016. In her abstract paintings, she operates in the tension between two poles – the endlessness of the cosmos and the limited duration of existence. She wonders: where does the painting begin and where does it end? Her painting process begins with an empty, unlimited space. She then paints without a predetermined plan, without an underlying concept. A dialogue between the artist and the image develops, a process in which the invisible becomes visible. The work grows out of itself and comes alive. An individual emerges: no composition the same as the next. Each has its own character, like a way of life. The traces of humanness that Gerken situates on the untouched surface of the canvas mean to leave something new behind, say something about our existence and eschew the emptiness and nothingness that dominates the space.
Peter Halley (1953), is an American conceptual artist, who was born in New York, where he lives and works today. He has focused on the relationship between prison and cells for many years. With abstract, geometric designs, Halley directs a critical lens toward structures of space and communication and the increasing “geometrification” of our lived environment. The range of colors in his work’s visual space is not meant to be meditative. Halley would much rather channel the anonymous, aggressive interplay of the colors of big city life, which we daily encounter in corporate logos and illuminated signs.
Imi Knoebel (1940) is a German painter and sculptor associated with Minimal Art. He studied at the Düsseldorf Kunstakademie under Joseph Beuys. In 1968 Knoebel developed his first major work, the installation “Raum 19,” named after the academy’s classroom no. 19, which Beuys had provided to his students. Even then, Knoebel addressed the relationship between space, picture supports and color with his analytical series. His second major influence comes from the reduction of the painting to elemental coordinates of Kasimir Malewitsch. Subsequent to his puristic lines, light projections and white paintings, Knoebel used color for the first time in 1974. Projects such as his 1998 “Deutsches Tor” and “Kinderstern” attest to the artist’s social and political engagement.
Christine Liebich (1987) studied painting at the Akademie der bildenden Künste in München until 2017, completing her studies as a master’s student under Axel Kasseböhmer. In her 90 kilogramm, but visually light and airy works, primarily consisting of processed steel and cement, Liebich works through dualism’s oppositions. Destruction predicates the emergence of the new; transience achieves a kind of permanence. In using cement—a material not commonly seen in the context of art production—Liebich explores the boundaries between image and object. She puts it into an entirely new context, by turning it into something that carries an image. The tension between surrounding and interior is palpable. In breaking down the boundaries between materials, Liebich succeeds in rendering the surroundings a component of her work.
Jesper Skov Madsen (1982), from Copenhagen, completed his studies with a Master of Fine Arts from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts this year. Madsen’s current series of works deals with the intentional loss of control, wherein the process dictates the result and not the other way around. He uses copper in his piece “Copper Works” and the fire-resistant material of a firefighter’s uniform in “Firefighter Works.” The seemingly unrelated materials have an important commonality, which fascinates Madsen; both materials are living. The copper works develop their vitality through the viewer’s encounter with their own reflection. The spatial conditions, the lighting and the time of day all impact and alter the work. Copper is, moreover, itself a living material. Every contact leaves a trace, because the material begins to oxidize with moisture and changes its exterior form. The firefighter works develop their liveliness during their fabrication process. The artist sprays a highly flammable, pyrotechnic liquid over the clothes and then sets them on fire. As a safety precaution, the entire process takes place in open air. Gesturally spontaneous, the wind spreads the flames across the textile. The artist has no control over how the flames spread. The process gives rise to an almost grotesque conflict between the choice of material and the method the artist uses to process that material. He sets alight protective clothing that should actually be protecting against flames and he brutally processes smooth, glossy and clean copper plates with hammers, fire and chemicals. Contrary to classical painting, in which brush strokes can be painted over or altered, the effect of this treatment on the materials is irreversible. The process dictates the result and plays into the hand of the artist, whose intention is to lose control over the result.
Jack Otway (*1991) is a young English painter, whose paintings, which depict enthralling scenarios, could also be seen as painted film stills. His recent works draw inspiration from the visual content and impressions of the Italian thriller film genre, Giallo, and films produced by Troma Entertainment. The medium of film fascinates the artist in that it can produce an effect on the viewer close to violence and horror, while, at once, maintaining enough space and distance from the actual occurrence of violence and horror. Otway combines organic forms and dynamic brushstrokes with a strong, almost oversaturated color palette. He lets the viewer into the world of the low-budget horror film industry, which presents terror and violence to the point of absurdity and the grotesque.
Tom Wesselmann (1931—2004) is an American artist, who, since the end of the 1950s, has been associated with Pop Art for his collages of figures and still lifes. From these collages he developed the “Great American Nude Series” – nudes of women that challenged the viewer with their sexuality and brought him a lot of popularity. Like many other representatives of the Pop Art movement, elements of film, television and advertising were inspirations for his work.