Volume IV – Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner – by Kristian Vistrup Madsen

Volume IV – Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner – by Kristian Vistrup Madsen

Volume IV – Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner – by Kristian Vistrup Madsen

Sperling

Volume III – Malte Zenses & Christina Lehnert

Volume III – Malte Zenses & Christina Lehnert

June 2021

For Volume III, Malte Zenses asked his friends Annika Henderson, Ricardo Domeneck, Joanna MacLean and Peter Brötzmann three questions:

Imagine one of these scenarios: a resource shortage, this pandemic, or global warming bringing civilization to its knees: What does that look like to you? What will be important to you? And how would you feel as a human and as a survivor?

The answers of their sometimes short, poetic and narrative text contributions are basically human, ranging from F*ck it, to reflections on childhood, human greed, and spinning out apocalyptic scenarios.

Furthermore, artist Albert Oehlen asked Malte Zenses questions about the processes of painting and how to begin painting – Malte begins with a Lobetaler-yogurt cup.

Apocalypse and routine, situation comedy and existential crisis – Malte Zenses' thinking and works revolve around these very real and very futuristic, very general and very individual themes in equal measure.

When Malte and I met in his studio, we talked about all of these things, but mostly his drawings spoke which we looked at for a long time and to which a large part of Volume III is dedicated.

It is important and perhaps necessary to ask these questions and make these images now to ignite a moment of humanity and humor.

Christina Lehnert

Malte Zenses works are communicative. They are never complete, but seem like pieces of a conversation that you accidentally overhear. This makes them interesting. The words in Malte Zenses’ art are ambiguous and succinct.

There is a drawing with the word “Klasse”. Class can mean many things: In an artists’ drawing, one thinks of the painting class or the master class in an art academy. It can be an antiquated affirmative exclamation in German, something like “smashing!”, but also the idea of a socio-political hierarchy. With Malte Zenses it means all of the above. Thus the drawings linger in the state of recognition-buffering and at the same time elude any final meaning. They are ambiguous, but one can always associate them with something, be it merely a line, a sentence or just a word.

Klasse, 2021, digital collage

Klasse, 2021, digital collage

Malte Zenses says his paintings can simply start with a Lobetaler yoghurt cup, thus his drawings seem tangible and retraceable – at first.

Many of his paintings are based on spontaneous drawings, which can then be found as details, zooms and remixes in his paintings. He appropriates himself, so to speak.

In this sampling of drawing and painting the words and the titles, the gestures and the (brush-)strokes are means of questioning and asserting. Slightly provocative, he demands combinatorial skill from a viewer, who makes up his*her mind while Malte Zenses makes up images.

Untitled, 2021, digital collage

Untitled, 2021, digital collage

Untitled, 2021, digital collage

Untitled, 2021, digital collage

hegemonie, 2021, ink on paper, 21 × 29,7 cm

hegemonie, 2021, ink on paper, 21 × 29,7 cm

Untitled, 2021, digital collage

Untitled, 2021, digital collage

Dossier, Titelblatt und Inhaltsverzeichnis, 2021, digital collage

Dossier, Titelblatt und Inhaltsverzeichnis, 2021, digital collage

Untitled, 2021, digital collage

Untitled, 2021, digital collage

The drawing with the words political brave decided annoying slightly provocative not yellow seems like a self-stylization of an ideal (artist) personality, or the recommended characteristics for the oeuvre of any artist. This is immediately followed by a drawing that seems to capture the rules of the art business as a survival kit. [*see below, conversation with Albert Oehlen]

The self-assertion in the art business, of which Malte Zenses is a part and an observer, is a recurring theme in his works. Thus art history, art business, and the everyday life of an artist (being part of society and part of the art world) meander through Malte Zenses’ work.

The purported contrarianism, expressed through humor and sarcasm, sometimes disguised as naiveté, derives from questioning (art) history and the contemporary and observing one’s surroundings. So he throws his questions as poetry in titles, as painting and as drawing on paper and canvas. Whoever catches the questions must begin to question him*herself.

But the beginning always remains in the here and now, or Im Regio 3.

Exhibition View: Malte Zenses, ,Im Regio 3, totale Verwirrung,, 2020, photo: Sebastian Kissel

Exhibition View: Malte Zenses, Im Regio 3, totale Verwirrung, 2020, photo: Sebastian Kissel

Exhibition View: Malte Zenses, ,Im Regio 3, totale Verwirrung,, 2020, photo: Sebastian Kissel

Exhibition View: Malte Zenses, Im Regio 3, totale Verwirrung, 2020, photo: Sebastian Kissel

Sie hat es sich jetzt anders überlegt, 2020, lacquer, oil, adhesive and paper on canvas, 100 x 130 cm

Sie hat es sich jetzt anders überlegt, 2020, lacquer, oil, adhesive and paper on canvas, 100 x 130 cm

Exhibition View: Malte Zenses, ,Im Regio 3, totale Verwirrung,, 2020, photo: Sebastian Kissel

Exhibition View: Malte Zenses, Im Regio 3, totale Verwirrung, 2020, photo: Sebastian Kissel

  • Here are the rules I know:
  • 1. Paint the “perfect” picture once and then forever!
  • 2. Deep, not too deep.
  • 3. Never change a winning team.
  • 4. “Easy to sell” but “annoying, decided”.
  • 5. Not yellow and somehow “relevant, critical”.
  • 6. Medium format for the gallery, larger for the institutions.
[...]

Heike und Karin, Brunch im Freien is a relief consisting of four red painted plates, which hang Donald Judd-style polished and stainless on the wall. Two tongues of fabric hang out of the first and third plates (from the right). Malte Zenses sewed and dyed the fabric himself, an almost affectionate gesture that recalls the tie-dye-romantics of teenage years, but also the attempt to take on the smooth surface, to equip it, that is, to make it accessible.

Textiles appear from time to time in his work, most recently in the sculptures Du und Ich, sehr müde #1 und #2, which shape the Reclining Venus from various old pieces of clothing. Malte speaks here of the different layers and stories of the carriers, now the textiles provide the abstract color surfaces of the relief and turn it into an anthropomorphic narrator and observer.

Malte speaks here of the different layers and stories of the wearers, now the textiles become the abstract color surfaces of the relief and makes it anthropomorphic narrators and observers.

The fabrics remind me of the piles of clothes one can encounter sometimes, which evoke life on the streets or are maybe typical for neighborhoods neglected by a city – things related I suppose.

Karin und Heike, Brunch im Freien, 2021, paint and fabric collages on steel plates, 4 × 130 × 100 cm

Karin und Heike, Brunch im Freien, 2021, paint and fabric collages on steel plates, 4 × 130 × 100 cm

Zunge im Atelier, 2021, photo: Timothy Schaumburg

Zunge im Atelier, 2021, photo: Timothy Schaumburg

Mundzungen (mit Seide) im Atelier, 2021, photo: Timothy Schaumburg

Mundzungen (mit Seide) im Atelier, 2021, photo: Timothy Schaumburg

Im Atelier, photo: Timothy Schaumburg, 2021

Im Atelier, photo: Timothy Schaumburg, 2021

Du und Ich, sehr müde #1, 2020, second hand garments, 270 × 60 × 4,5 cm, photo: Sebastian Kissel

Du und Ich, sehr müde #1, 2020, second hand garments, 270 × 60 × 4,5 cm, photo: Sebastian Kissel

Du und Ich, sehr müde #2, 2020 second hand garments, 120 × 300 × 4,5 cm, photo: Sebastian Kissel

Du und Ich, sehr müde #2, 2020 second hand garments, 120 × 300 × 4,5 cm, photo: Sebastian Kissel

Malte Zenses, Du und Ich, sehr müde #2, 2020 second hand garments, 120 × 300 × 4,5 cm, photo: Sebastian Kissel

Malte Zenses, Du und Ich, sehr müde #2, 2020 second hand garments, 120 × 300 × 4,5 cm, photo: Sebastian Kissel

 Snapshot by Christina Lehnert, Frankfurt a. M., Juni 2021

Snapshot by Christina Lehnert, Frankfurt a. M., Juni 2021

Of course, Brunch im Freien is also an allusion to Edouard Manet's Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe, but here the protagonists are not Eugène Manet, Victorine Meurent, and Ferdinand Leenhoff, but Heike and Karin, stereotypical German names. One is immediately reminded of Karen and Ken, the prime examples of white-privilege, right-wing, xenophobic America that have become a meme in 2020.

Disillusionment is something Malte Zenses is unavoidably preoccupied with. For him, this realization takes place as the man-made collapse of the world happens before our eyes, climate crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic and resource scarcity all results of the same systemic problems.

For Volume III, he deferred these world questions to some artist friends, and their answers are basically just human, ranging from F**k-it one has to die anyway, to reflections on childhood, human greed, and spinning out apocalyptic scenarios.

This fundamental, sometimes also exaggeratedly snotty thinking in the face of the apocalypse closes the circle to Malte Zenses’ drawings, which satirize, protest and in their radical honesty always trigger something.

es tut ihm leid, 2021, ink on paper, 21 × 29,7 cm

es tut ihm leid, 2021, ink on paper, 21 × 29,7 cm

das heißt gar nix!, 2021, ink on paper, 21 × 14,8 cm

das heißt gar nix!, 2021, ink on paper, 21 × 14,8 cm

Untitled, 2021, digital collage

Untitled, 2021, digital collage

Untitled, 2021, digital collage

Untitled, 2021, digital collage

Is this on the assumption that humans are actually important in the grand scheme of things?
Malte

Imagine one of these scenarios: a resource shortage, this pandemic, or global warming bringing civilization to its knees in the near future. What does that look like to you? What will be important to you? And how would you feel as a human and as a survivor?

Annika Henderson

I need. I need. I need. As children growing up in a time of plenty, it was often that one was corrected and told, “No you don't need, you want.” Want. want. want. want. More. more. more. more. Isn’t that what the industrial revolution is about? Isn’t that why farming is so heavily subsidised, so that the price of food, that which we actually do NEED to survive, does not take up all our earnings and we have some left over to spend on SHIT. On things that keep the wheels turning, the engines running. Where are we now? What is this state of reality that we have begun to accept as normal?

Oxygen, water that doesn't act like acid on my skin, human contact, touch, smell. My brain is already melting, being trapped in this box, with just a computer for a friend. I’d rather be messed up than feel this utter loneliness.

Am I meant to feel special? Is this on the assumption that humans are actually important in the grand scheme of things? We are merely matter, a line on a page, making up a greater thing. I have no fear of death, it is part of life. Does the lack of control scare me? Well, if I am ready to die at any moment, then it wouldn’t scare me. You die as you have lived. Well, if I live by my morals now, I will have no regrets the day I clonk over, so there is nothing to fear, nothing to regret, nothing to worry about.

Landschaft bei Pappelwerda, 2021, ink, watercolor and pencil on paper, 21 × 14,8 cm

Landschaft bei Pappelwerda, 2021, ink, watercolor and pencil on paper, 21 × 14,8 cm

Untitled, 2021, digital collage

Untitled, 2021, digital collage

Malte Zenses, Die Zunge vor dem Kaffee, 2021, watercolor pencil on paper, 14,8 × 21 cm

Malte Zenses, Die Zunge vor dem Kaffee, 2021, watercolor pencil on paper, 14,8 × 21 cm

Malte Zenses, Scan von einem gelben Blattpapier, 2021, laser print on paper, 21 × 14,8 cm

Malte Zenses, Scan von einem gelben Blattpapier, 2021, laser print on paper, 21 × 14,8 cm

Malte Zenses, Scan von einem gelben Blattpapier, 2021, laser print on paper, 21 × 14,8 cm

Malte Zenses, Scan von einem gelben Blattpapier, 2021, laser print on paper, 21 × 14,8 cm

Malte Zenses, November, 2021, ink on paper, 21 × 29,7 cm

Malte Zenses, November, 2021, ink on paper, 21 × 29,7 cm

We play the lottery of extinction and evolution, filled with arrogance.
Malte

Imagine one of these scenarios: a resource shortage, this pandemic, or global warming bringing civilization to its knees in the near future. What does that look like to you? What will be important to you? And how would you feel as a human and as a survivor?

Ricardo Domeneck

Electricity is gone. Satellites circle the globe as junk, emitting signals to nobody, and slowly fall out of the sky. Canned food ends,and foraging and hunting must be relearned. The neo-hunter-gatherers. The memory of certain techniques remain, and survivors can still count on some knowledge and wisdom acquired by generations and generations before the Catastrophe. It will depend on how many survive, and the extension of destruction, to know how long it might take until anything is rebuilt. Many species are extinct, others flourish. Out of control, or out of what seems to us now to be ORDER, and not CHAOS, everything seeks a new balance. We play the lottery of extinction and evolution, filled with arrogance.

Once, I was very depressed with the course of our environmental policies. I told a friend: ’We are destroying this planet.’ He replied: ’This planet will eat us up like it did to 99% of everything that has ever lived.’ Do I want to be a survivor? To live on a planet that has become unrecognizable? I am honestly not sure I do.

Untitled, 2021, digital collage

Untitled, 2021, digital collage

Untitled, 2021, digital collage

Untitled, 2021, digital collage

Untitled, 2021, digital collage

Untitled, 2021, digital collage

Untitled, 2021, digital collage

Untitled, 2021, digital collage

F*ck it!
Malte

Imagine one of these scenarios: a resource shortage, this pandemic, or global warming bringing civilization to its knees in the near future. What does that look like to you? What will be important to you? And how would you feel as a human and as a survivor?

Peter Brötzmann

I can say we are on the way into this disgraceful future.

My feeling?

F*ck it!

Untitled, 2021, digital collage

Untitled, 2021, digital collage

Untitled, 2021, digital collage

Untitled, 2021, digital collage

Untitled, 2021, digital collage

Untitled, 2021, digital collage

Evolve, Evolving, Keep on evolving.
Malte

Imagine one of these scenarios: a resource shortage, this pandemic, or global warming bringing civilization to its knees in the near future. What does that look like to you? What will be important to you? And how would you feel as a human and as a survivor?

Joana MacLean

Slowly cracks and flaws are forming in our concept of the forest – the humus, the ocean. Our landscape changes and with them whole ecosystems reform and grow towards a new nature. A new forest, a new ocean. Disconnected from any geological time-scale. Where there’s been forest, there will be a new word for forest. Plastic is one and so is wood. The story is a tale of loss and destruction. But who is losing here?

Nature is persisting. Living is loss, your future is decay. The arts of living will be loss and mutation. Plasticity and language. New nature, new taxonomies. Plastic is one and so is wood. Breathe in, breathe out. Evolve, Evolving, Keep on evolving.

Untitled, 2021, digital collage

Untitled, 2021, digital collage

Untitled, 2021, digital collage

Untitled, 2021, digital collage

Are there rules in painting?

Albert Oehlen asks Malte Zenses:

Albert

Are there rules in painting?

Malte

Yes! Ideally there are no rules, art is supposed to be free, isn't it? But what is ideal anyway? We are marked and shaped by the people and things that surround us, products of our environment. There are limits everywhere. I also believe that, in order to play the game of the art world, a high degree of a rehearsed set of rules is required. When I take a closer look at your former students, I notice that clearly... People love rules, artists even more.

Here are the rules I know:

  • 1. Paint the “perfect” picture once and then forever!
  • 2. Deep, not too deep.
  • 3. Never change a winning team.
  • 4. “Easy to sell” but “annoying, decided”.
  • 5. Not yellow and somehow “relevant, critical”.
  • 6. Medium format for the gallery, larger for institutions.
  • 7. Elevator pitch suitable.
  • 8. Changing directions – well liked. But not too fast and too often.
  • 9. Become a brand, develop recognition.
  • 10. Attitude. Attitude. Attitude.
  • 11. It doesn't matter what's happening in your picture, you have to know the right people!
  • 12. Never help your friends
  • 13. Collectors are people with economic and sometimes cultural capital, they don't have time for deep conversations. Your story has to be fast.
  • 14. You must look like you don’t care about your appearance. Yet, you should look “special”.
  • 15. Never hang out with bad artists in public.

Albert

Do you use a palette, or do you press the paint directly onto the canvas?

Malte

Nope, neither. I collect Lobetaler yogurt cups. So for each series or painting phase I put these Lobetaler yogurt cups (each color gets its own cup) on my trolley. Then I squeeze just a little bit of oil paint into the big cup and add a sip of a quick-drying binder. Add two nuts or bolts in the cup to mix it all up. Poke a little with the brush handle, and then swirl some more. Presto!

If I need the paint even thinner, I add distilled turpentine. At the end of the day, I cover the yogurt cups with old linen.

Albert

Durch die Nacht [TV-show about two artists, actors, musicians etc. coming together in one city for a whole night] with which painter, no matter from which time?

Malte

Agnes Martin at the age of 85.

Durch die Nacht mit Agnes Martin und Malte Zenses.

We would drink a Weddinger Panke Gold in my regular pub Gedeih & Verderb and afterwards I would cook Agnes pasta in my studio while she explains I paint with my back to the world.

Malte Zenses mit einem Echthaarpinsel aus Ennes Haaren, in seinem Atelier (schrecklicher Winter), 2021, photo: Timothy Schaumburg

Malte Zenses mit einem Echthaarpinsel aus Ennes Haaren, in seinem Atelier (schrecklicher Winter), 2021, photo: Timothy Schaumburg

Im Atelier, 2021, photo: Timothy Schaumburg

Im Atelier, 2021, photo: Timothy Schaumburg