We inaugurate on March 9, 2018 at 7 pm I Don't Have a Solution But I Admire the Problem, our first solo exhibition with Markus Huemer.
Huemer (*1968 in Linz, Austria, lives and works in Berlin) first studied in Linz at the University of Art and Design and thereafter in Dusseldorf at the Art Academy; in the following he was a Fellow at Cologne's Academy of Media Arts and an Artist in Residenz at the ZKM in Karlsruhe. He had numerous solo and group exhibitions in German galleries and institutions. However, his last larger appearance in the Rhineland is quite some time ago. Thus, we are all the happier to be able to show with Could Have Also Been Another Successful Picture and Una certa idea (ma non tanto che basti) two earlier media-art pieces as well as newer paintings that are all more or less dedicated to architectural topics. The relation between the paintings and the media artworks can be described as correlative.
The declaration that gives the computer animation its title, something could have become a good image, and the occasional failure to do a good image, is certainly known to almost all painters. However, in our case the daily frustration is transferred to a basic questioning of the making of the image and the expectations we have towards media art. Should we want to see the whole work, we would be constrained to endure over 40 hours and to experience how dot by dot, mark by mark would be digitally placed, in order to form a new artificial and constructed world. Accordingly, in the beginning of the work we do not see anything and almost anything and then more and more black, blotchy patches. At a moment that cannot be defined the viewer gets the impression that he can recognize forms and figures. The nothingness in the beginning is turned not only into a quantity of colors (that is only projected and not really there), but also in seemingly readable forms. In contrast to what happens normally in painting the "color application" is not done in a planar way or in lines (that is: rather fast), but a continuous addition of mutated pixels (the mutations being changes from white to black). Towards the end the full disappointment becomes effective: instead of leading us to an image – as the process suggests – we rather see forms that remain more or less abstract; rather a reminder of something and not an image in the sense of a depiction that is close to reality and has narrative power. What remained white could be trees of a forest, reproductions of reality, with the black zones as shadows. But: just this present conditional, something could be the case, but is not for sure, that is: just this uncertainty is what Huemer is up to (also in his painting). All clarity is eliminated, all expectations disappointed, all certainty is unmasked as treacherous.
The second media-work of the show, Una certa idea (ma non tanto che basti), functions in a comparable way: it shows – with a reference to Raffael and the notion of the Renaissance age that art is not craft but rather a concept that is expressed by drawings and works based on drawings – the idea of an image, that is, what can be considered as the factual basis for the visualization of the idea of an image: a white plane. But careful! The white plane of the projected image is not the same as the white plane of the canvas. It is rather an image that has been generated with a lot of data (we can think of it as an idea of an image). What, in the world of the media, would equal the nothingness of the unpainted canvas would be rather the blue projection. "As soon as we get the feeling that we have been able to recognize a subject, to place a narrative, we find ourselves in a trap." (Elisabeth Fiedler, Joanneum, Graz, Austria).
What is depicted and which grade of reality this depiction has, remains unclear. Admittedly, the gigantic canvases, like e.g. the painting The Science of Kissing is Called Philematology of our exhibition, are getting close to a par for par equalization – as far as regards the format – of what is (seemingly) depicted (a tunnel) and what is depicting (painted canvas) so that one is tempted to speak not only of a representational figuration. However, we can observe, that Huemer, "in a kind of exaggeration of the posit [of the rejection or rather elucidation of the senselessness of a belief in or requirement for representation], in the large-format he illustrates the fact that what we see does not correspond to what we are hoping for. In fact, what we are looking at is not just a landscapestructure calculated by a computer, which, despite its dimensions, does not live up to its promise of copying nature. … With large formats that appear to meet our expectations for conformity to reality, Huemer leads us onto thin ice. With the artist simulating depth of focus in black, gray and white, we are whisked away to a silent landscape of ideas which destroys our fake perception, coldly and without narrative." (Elisabeth Fiedler).
Two thoughts shall be added:
One is concerning the titles of the works. Typically, in painting the titles and the image correlate. One can just think of the famous painting The Kiss by Gustav Klimt. It shows, if one radically abridges, a pair of lovers (that was the original title of the painting) that is kissing. Contrary to Klimt's work, the depiction in Huemer's image The Science of Kissing is Called Philematology does not have to do anything at all with the activity addressed in the title and also nothing with philematology. Now, the depiction and the title deviate, but the title itself is a correct statement. Once again we notice that Huemer is making us unsure and that he is setting us on the wrong track. This is happening in other works either by explaining non-existent rules or laws (It is Forbidden to Send Messages to Extraterrestrials or In France, It is Forbidden to Name a Pig "Napoleon"), or by referring to pseudo-scientific knowledge (Coffee-Drinkers Have More Sex Than Non-Coffee-Drinkers), or by wrenching the meanings of idioms (We Don't Whistle After Your Dance). The lines of the titles and what seemingly is the depiction are never related to each other.
The other thought regards the fact that the light that we see in some of the works at the end of the tunnel reminds us of another saying. Correspondingly, we could be tempted to understand the paintings as depictions of this saying. Again, however, we realize that what we see is not a depiction of a place that's depiction is suggested. We are looking instead on pixelesque, flat planes of colors that come within a whisker of depicting – rather independent of the enlightening distance (real and cognitive) we are able to gain. What we see is the difference between bright and dark, we thus see a reference to the topic of light and this (the light) is the condition for seeing in general and also for painting.
We can summarize that both, Markus Huemer's "art through the media" (a term used by Hans Ulrich Reck, KHM Köln, also for his work) as well as his paintings are driven by his interest in seeing and understanding art through its own media and in particular through the contemporary media. "Attempts were and still are made to wrest an authenticity from the medium of the canvas, which could however never revert to the innocence of a purportedly direct encounter with the world." (Roland Nachtigäller, MARTA Herford).
For more information and / or images, please contact the gallery.