press release

The show proposes to look at abstract shapes as images that are animate. Despite their often rather austere appearance, abstract artworks can embody hints of figuration, motion, even narration. Here are brought together works by artists who work on the thin line between abstraction and figuration, respectively are inclined to blur this line –life is breathed into forms and shapes through concept, colour and composition and transform abstract shapes into anthropomorphic entities.

“PFM-1 and others” (2004) by Ayşe Erkmen (born 1949 in Istanbul, lives and works in Berlin and Istanbul) is a 6-channel-video installation with sound – namely the first video installation ever published in an edition. It shows green, strangely anthropomorphic objects appearing from a blank background, jumping into the foreground before eventually disappearing, accompanied with synthetic sounds. In fact, these forms are computerized animations of landmines which form a bizarre parade, weird and unsettling.

In his shown sculptures Markus Karstieß (born 1971, lives and works in Solingen and Dusseldorf) examines the possibilities of ceramics, a material which is characterized by its specific mouldablity, the conditioning of its surface and its connection to arts and crafts. Karstiess experiments with shapes and shaping, exploring the transitions between the unformed, the formed and the figurative, very well observable in “Plight” (2010) and the “Fetishes” (2009/10). The installation of the artwork and the juxtaposition of different sculptures within a certain space play a crucial role in Karstiess’ work. A delicate mobile has been made by the artist specifically for this exhibition.

Anne Neukamp (1976 in Düsseldorf, lives and works in Berlin) is one of the few painters who fearlessly put together abstract and clearly figurative forms, e.g. hems, curtains, clouds or, as in “o.T. (kleiner Spiegel)” (2001), a mirror. Familiar and unfamiliar shapes appear and disappear, connect and disconnect, make intagible references to the reality but are more than anything else elements of an unique visual world. This intended vagueness is met by the elaborate painterly technique (oil and tempera on canvas) of applying, washing and layering paint and a distinct range of colour.

Colourful and luminous, the new untitled drawings by Bernd Ribbeck (born 1974 in Cologne, lives and works in Berlin) are at the same time of geometric stringency and vivid brightness. Made with Indian ink the drawings seem to be deeply connected with the paper, or rather interpenetrating it. This effect is caused by the complex technique of repeatedly applying, wiping, rubbing off and coating the colour. With its haziness, it makes a strong counterbalance to the lucidity of the shapes and lines. The forms refer to early abstraction and Modernist architecture, however the references are, intentionally, not exactly allocatable. So Ribbeck’s works radiate the aura of the Modernist in a decidedly contemporary manner.

Despite the serene reduction of her works, Claudia Wieser (born 1974 in Freilassing, Germany, lives and works in Berlin) perceives the spheres, cones and triangles on them as highly animate and even narrative. Drawn with colour pencil – partly with gold leaf – on coloured paper, the shapes gain their vividness through precise composition and the elaborate use of colour. Changing between abstraction and figuration they consciously play with a phenomenon which is as old as abstract art is: the human eye looks for figurative and narrative hints, no matter how few cues it is provided with.

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The Secret Life of Abstract Forms
Kurator: Barbara J. Scheuermann

Künstler: Ayse Erkmen, Markus Karstieß, Anne Neukamp, Bernd Ribbeck, Claudia Wieser