artist / participant
Monika Baer. Neue Bilder - Hannah Höch Prize 2020
June 12–August 2, 2020
Curator: Marius Babias
Monika Baer was awarded the Hannah Höch Prize 2020 by the State of Berlin for her outstanding artistic achievements. On the occasion of the award ceremony, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.) will honor her complex artistic oeuvre with a solo exhibition. This first larger presentation of Baer’s work at an institution in Berlin offers insights into her most recent experimental approaches, begun last year in Los Angeles. With a new constellation of large-format paintings and small-format collages, Baer continues her investigation of art historical references as well as the new discursive spaces that painted images can produce.
In her work, often produced as series, Baer makes use of various painterly traditions and techniques, from monochrome and representational approaches to physical disruption to the surface of the canvas. During her studies in the 1980s, art was undergoing a period of repoliticization, in which art criticism questioned the autonomy of painting and its potential for innovation. Amidst this set of conflicts, Baer made the conscious decision to work within the medium of painting—with an interest in continuing the scrutiny of its underlying presumptions—which has remained one of her central artistic questions to this day.
Baer’s painting is guided by an understanding of the painting as a stage, and the pursuit of a choreography of seeing imbued with cultural history. Her latest works, presented at Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, continue her exploration of the pictorial space as a theater setting, which she began in 1995. Walls structure the foreground and background to place them in perspective, evoking stone parapets and borders, as found in Renaissance portrait painting. The protagonists are trees and tree stumps, which move diagonally against a magnificent colorful sky, tilting or shedding their bark. The repetition of compositional elements and angles of inclination indicate the artist’s concern, not with illusionary effects, but with the concrete object as an embodiment to be explored in its specific, metonymic form and as part of a performance.