seemed like a good idea at the time: Haris Epaminonda, Se-Youn Kim, Sebastian Stumpf, Thomas Geiger, Andrew Gilbert, Veronika Hilger
Why a gallery? Why leave Berlin? Why in Munich and not in Cologne? “Well, at the time when we had to make the decisions, it seemed like a good idea”. But for Johannes Sperling, who made a quite conscious decision in favour of Munich after a number of years in Berlin as a gallery employee and freelance curator, it wasn’t quite as easy as that. And only the future will show how good this decision, or this idea, actually was. The artists represented at this first exhibition are in a similar situation. They are all roughly the same age as the gallery owner, and still have to stand the test of time. The exhibition is concerned with how we deal with the present time when this has become the past, and consequently with taking risky decisions. To what extent can present, past and future be experienced in isolation? In the context of this theme, the six artists pursue quite different work processes, based on their individual conceptual considerations.
Haris Epaminonda (b. 1980 Nicosia, Cyprus) works overwhelmingly with ‘found’ pictorial materials dating from the middle of the last century; she examines their mutual formal and thematic relationships through the combination of several of these pictorial elements. In the process, she dispenses with any reference to the origin, age or meaning of the motifs, and as a result the time-scales are shifted, and the works become accessible via the emotions alone and the aesthetic mood that results. Epaminonda extends the principle of formal and thematic combinations to her œuvre as a whole by linking together not just the elements of one work, but also the various works and different exhibition situations. Motifs, forms and situations keep turning up in a variety of configurations and contexts, forming the vocabulary on which the artist builds her work.
In his work, Thomas Geiger (b. 1983 Schopfheim, Baden Württemberg) explores invisible social structures and phenomena by using what often look like casual actions in the public space to confront the exhibition situation in question with its urban environment. In the process, the artist is constantly concerned with the degree to which an action that happened in the past, or in the present at a different location, can be said to be “experienced”. In Munich, he will, every day for the duration of the exhibition, place a full bottle of beer on the same park bench. This action has been announced on a poster which forms part of the exhibition. Visitors will know about the action, but not where it is happening. At the same time, those who do know the location because they happen to frequent the park bench will not know where the free beer comes from, or that it is supposed to be “art”. An important aspect of this practice is the constant repetition, and the question of recognizable patterns and their interpretation by those involved.
In his art, Andrew Gilbert (b. 1980 Edinburgh, Scotland) moves in a grotesquely fantastical cosmos that he has developed over the years, in which he places the figures from his works. At the centre of this cosmos are the history of Gilbert’s Scottish homeland and the colonial history of Great Britain. Taking these as his basis, the artist interlaces and combines meticulously researched historical facts with fictional characters. Gilbert has given himself a major role in this universe too. Thus time and again the figure of “Andrew” turns up, experiencing heroic stories on the battlefield together with Holy Broccoli (a spiritual guardian) or pursuing the Afghan squirrel in his helicopter. In 2014 the artist had a first opportunity to work in Africa. Some of the drawings he produced there can be seen in the exhibition ‘seemed like a good idea at the time’.
Veronika Hilger (b. 1981 Prien, Bavaria) grapples with painting, and in particular with landscape painting. The artist took the decision to devote herself to what is these days an if anything unusual genre while a student at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich, and since then has created pictorial worlds from elements of landscape that have relatively little in common with the classical notion of landscape painting. These abstract worlds arise without any model in the real world, and can be read and put together in continually new ways. Towards the end of her studies, Veronika Hilger began, in parallel with her painting, to develop a body of sculptural work. These fragile ceramics are on the formal vocabulary of the works on canvas, and against this background cast light on further aspects of the artificiality of landscape and its capacity for depiction.
Se-Youn Kim (b. 1986 Seoul, South Korea) is concerned with the thematic complex of the deconstruction, reconstruction and transformation of familiar material. This gives rise to very personal works, such as 96 pieces, for which the artist’s own recent past forms the foundation. The abstract installation consists of the fibres and threads of all 96 items of clothing which she wore during her time at art college, and which were taken apart or pulverized for this work. For 96 pieces #2 she transformed this transformed material in its turn, by turning the individual fibres – sorted by colour – into very thin paper, and thus giving them a new form. The clothing, which long had protective, communicative and expressive functions, has been irrevocably destroyed: what remains is the abstract beauty of colour and form.
Sebastian Stumpf (b. 1980 Würzburg, Bavaria) is drawn mostly to urban “un-places” for his inspiration. Here he sounds out the relationship between body and space, and its limits. In his madcap actions, he overcomes physical boundaries and documents this performative action in astonishing photographs and videos. The terrain of a disused and flooded opencast mine forms the almost unreal backdrop for a new photographic series with the title Abraum (“Waste”). Here Stumpf stages himself by jumping boldly into the artificial lakes on the site, pressing the remote-control release of his camera between the moment of lift-off and the moment of touchdown on the water. The special nature of the surroundings, the choice of motif and the action in question produces a shift of scale and spatial relationships, no pictorial element moving into the foreground. Stumpf himself, in spite of the extreme nature of his actions, fits confusingly harmoniously into the many details of his surroundings.