press release

With this one-person show at Galería Helga de Alvear in Madrid, Johannes Wohnseifer (Cologne, 1967) is exhibiting his work for the very first time in Spain.

Wohnseifer finds the seeds for his work in history, both the history of Germany as well as his own, whether personal memories or those of his generation. To this end he develops a strategy primarily grounded in the appropriation of historic and cultural symbols, especially brand logos, which he infuses with an ironic and affective, almost melancholic mood. Nonetheless, while at first glance close to Pop this practice is ultimately revealed as purely conceptual.

His mission is to re-construct this memory, marked by times past. “Three Brown Boxes” looks almost like a readymade: three totally banal and anodyne boxes from Braun electrical appliances are (in a play of words) painted the same brown used by the German army and placed in perspex structures as sculptures. The end result cuts across the tradition of 20th century avant-garde sculpture as well as both the collective memory and the recent history of Germany.

“All the Colours of a Year” works in much the same direction, yet on a more personal level. An environmental impulse prevents Wohnseifer from throwing away the paint rollers he has been using throughout the span of a whole year. Accumulated in a plastic container, all that remains is to place it on a plinth to remind us of Gerrit Rietveld’s designs and constructions.

The paintings in the exhibition share a similar origin and result yet, on this occasion, they remit exclusively to the personal memory of the generation of the artist in the covers of the 1980s English pop group The Smiths. At the time, the group used existing well-known images of people from their own imaginary, and now Wohnseifer repeats the same design but replacing them with people from the universal imaginary of British culture.

Finally, “Elevated Broken Circle” represents the readymade in its pure undiluted state: a circular concrete structure found in the street is cast in aluminium and raised on handmade yellow prisms.

Johannes Wohnseifer has shown his work at Sprengel Museum in Hanover, the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, the Witte de With Center in Rotterdam and MUSEION in Bolzano.

Johannes Wohnseifer
Recent Reconstructions