artists & participants

press release

OneTwenty is pleased to present new paintings by the young German artist Jochen Mühlenbrink. The exhibition highlights a recent series of city scenes. The title of this exhibition is derived from a poem by the Berlin poet and novelist Erich Kästner who aptly described the anonymous and haphazard encounters of people in Berlin from the Thirties to the Fifties with an underlying humour and passion.

Mühlenbrinks paintings are about urbanism, specifically the northern European cities. His depiction of high rises, and repetitive patterns within mass architecture is both formalist and yet in their poetic style also a hidden tale of the people who are living within these environments. People are rarely present in his work, yet the way in which he represents buildings and dwellings speaks of the struggle of man and their attempts at escaping the uniformity designed to contain them.

Mühlenbrinks oil paintings claim to be realistic. Nevertheless the application of paint, which is watered down contrary to the expected impasto of oils and the looseness of his brush strokes render them deeply romantic at the same time. ‘Fassadenschleier’, 2005 is an almost abstracted surface of washed out blue patchwork. Above there is about an inch of sky with a sharp roof line and below a yellow stripe of painted hoardings with graffiti turning the abstraction into realism. The conventionally forbidding scaffolding cloth covers up any traces of architecture, cladding the house like a wounded shell. The badly scrawled graffiti screams” Against neo-liberalism”, someone’s opinion marking the unused building akin to a painters signature at the bottom. Surrounded by the vast space of the scaffolds and jammed between other meaningless graffiti this scream for high ideals becomes insignificant.

The forlorn grandeur of city architecture is captured in “Arena”. A huge arena with thousands of aligned seats is dramatically curved. Again patterns are in the foreground, the many separated sections of stalls forming geometrical areas, which are rounded by the chosen aerial perspective. The empty stadium breaths the presence of people as they seem to become ciphers from the vast distance. The painting itself is of an impressive scale rendering the viewer small, which in turn is fitting to the subtle message of humanity pervading Mühlenbrinks empty cityscapes.

City dwellers conventionally seek escape. In a new series of caravans and tents Mühlenbrink represents how they escape just to be emerged in an identical sea of patterns and specifically designed leisure pods. His caravans are as architectural as his high rises, yet the rays of sunlight playing on them is also a testament to the lightness felt by those who managed to escape the humdrum of their uniform lives.

Mühlenbrinks works are at once formalist and poetic, objective and romantic. He effortlessly bridges the contrasts between the two by his amazing use of light. Technically he mixes radically empty areas of primed canvas with the thinned application of oils which results in the interplay of shadow and light, inner and outer spaces to radiate and almost emit light from the canvas.

Next to the main room exhibition OneTwenty introduces the German artist Christine Philipp with a selection of her recent large- scale paintings. Philipp is obsessed by the phenomenon of light, be it natural or artificial. More specifically she is concentrating on the perception of light, which is produced by photography. Her paintings feature those moments when we are blinded or light pervades the whole surface of a photograph accidentally. Through the appearance of light she maps out a city, its buildings, cars, shops and its entertainment venues.

For the project room we are presenting three large-scale paintings of the multiple rays of light pervading the nightclubs of any city. The paintings focus on what we want to see, when we are slightly inebriated or elevated by the music in a club. Light falls on us with big beams or dancing small reflections form a disco ball to the bright stage light which whitens out a whole room akin to a quasi religious experience. Philip paints precisely the quality of light, which alters the atmosphere of a room from a small and dark environment to the fabulous experience of disco, where we become the stars under the burning and flattering beams of the spotlights. ‘Lichtmaschine’ takes it to the extreme with an almost completely white canvas where the prism of colours is just faintly appearing here and there. It is a clever take on abstraction which is realist at the same time as it depicts an existing phenomenon we can physically perceive. Displayed on a blank wall, the painting mimics the amazing moment of being immersed in light. The viewer becomes the star attraction for that one moment.

In combination with the works of Jochen Mühlenbrink the project room presentation of Christine Philip adds a flair to the cityscapes, equally realist in their execution and yet depicting the magic created by the simple light bulb creating a beautiful rhythmic display of rays and dots. The exhibition as a whole highlights a return to the Seventies, which influences a young generation of painters in Germany.

only in german

Jochen Mühlenbrink / Christine Philipp
Sachliche Romanze