artists & participants
As the world has moved into a dark post-millennium era, the rise in the use of the occult and an atmosphere of menace have become more manifest. More recently, artists have been reacting to this and the representation of these supernatural practises in their work has been referred to as ‘The New Gothic’. Not only are these so called cliché ‘Gothic’ subjects part of this new aesthetic, but also represent an underlying melancholic and ecstatic vision. As a result, subjects like lost love, no hope, the mysterious, the sexual and the unknown are all given a voice. In the exhibition, ‘The New Gothic: Art for the Tortured Soul’, this new movement is traced through hardcore glamorous edged works, whereby the glossy surfaces are at war with the underlying messages. The luxurious atmosphere is full of aggression and the works seem placed in the sultry stillness before an earthquake. An illicit desire combined with an almost decadent despair, gives the spectator an insight into a world full of dark and forbidden dreams.
A true master of arrangements, the Swiss artist Olaf Breuning (1970) shows his audience this world through images born of different sub-cultures. Their spectrum ranging from cultivated hedonism, to a lustful thrill of the sinister. His controversial images portray our collective desires and fears of everyday life on one hand, contrasting with mere ‘light-hearted’ recreational pleasures on the other hand.
Like Breuning, American artist Christian Holstad (1972) plays with the collective unconsciousness. His collages look like lucid dreams. They are cut from daily papers, where the original image is re-drawn, creating a tension as to whether the spectator is facing the vision of the artist or reality. One could say that Holstad wants to take the spectator on a journey into the unknown.
A darker approach can be found in the pictures of American photographer Steven Klein (1962). His ecstatic portraits of pop-legend Madonna have an almost Baroque aesthetic, cultivating the mysterious and disturbing the viewer. Klein portrays the pop-icon in a sensationalist and decadent way. His work exudes disenchantment and disillusion rather than smooth glossy beauty.
As like Klein, the frightening sincerity displayed in the work of French artist Pierre Molinier (1900-1976) is quite often described as dark. However, one cannot deny that there is an energy and wit displayed in his sexually charged photographs. His obsession with his own repressed desires becomes apparent in his photomontages where the viewer sees the artist’ own sexual and sensational masquerade.
Underneath the surface of the slick fairy-tale edged work of Dutch artist Ewoud van Rijn (1967) lies a tension filled with anxiety and fear. His dream-like figures leave us with a feeling of disturbance, alienation, strangeness and the unspoken. The creatures in his work seem to come directly from the lower regions of Dante’s Inferno and are as attractive as they are repulsive.
The work of Canadian/Italian photographer/movie-director Floria Sigismondi (1965) captures the tidy madness of the inner-self. Characterized by a kind of glamorous and theatrical imagery, she shows a world that hovers between sleep and wakefulness. Often referred to as a ‘Gothic Princess’, Sigismondi makes use of traditional Gothic themes in her work, but astonishes the eyes –and the brain- because the content and message are out of kilter.
Much can be said about the highly glossed computerized paintings of German artist Markus Selg (1973). His work shows an extraordinary technique and an original way of looking. Provocation is at it’s core. His subjects are mysterious, cold, anonymous and a little corrupt. They seem to be pushed around in a hard way and show a lack of vulnerability. A suggestion of violence is part of the message, which itself has a dubious chic. No two paintings look alike and Selg enjoys twisting conventional ideas, while keeping his style consistent.
The New Gothic: Art for the Tortured Soul is a visual expression of the duplicitous and contradictory state of western thinking, where our ‘spiritual or higher need’ clashes with our instinctively base desires and fears. It shows that though we have physically moved into the 21st Century, psychologically we are barely out of the caves.
The New Gothic: Art For the Tortured Soul
mit Olaf Breuning, Christian Holstad, Steven Klein, Pierre Molinier, Ewoud van Rijn, Floria Sigismondi, Markus Selg