Contemporary Fine Arts Berlin presents SPENCER SWEENEY | TIM STORRIER, CRESSIDA CAMPBELL | CHRISTA DICHGANS
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At Grolmanstrasse 32/33 :
VIVA LAS VEGAS
28 January- 04 March, 2017
Contemporary Fine Arts is pleased to announce the gallery’s first exhibition with works by Spencer Sweeney (born in 1973 in Philadelphia, USA), entitled ‘Viva Las Vegas’.
Sweeney’s artistic practice stays within the genres and styles of the fine arts, music, and performance. His creative work has always been informed by musical, visual, and social impressions and encounters. Even though the title ‘Viva Las Vegas’ may suggest otherwise, this exhibition is actually the result of months of introspection and a conscious focus on working exclusively as a painter in the studio. The artist worked on several canvases simultaneously, and with Sweeney’s well-known talent as a communicator, it is easy to imagine how in the process, the paintings interrogated and fertilized each other, how they fought and lovingly made up, and then turned away from each other again.
The paintings and drawings seem to show emotionally charged creatures and energetic spaces and landscapes. In explosive, distorted pictures with pulsating colours, the works go back and forth between artistic methods and media.
Spencer Sweeney (born in 1973, Philadelphia, USA) lives and works in New York. His works have been shown in exhibitions like ‘Do Your Thing’, White Columns, New York (2012); ‘Nudes’, The Green Gallery, Milwaukee (2011); ‘That was then … This is Now’, PS1, New York (2008); ‘Day for Night’, and at the Whitney Biennale, New York (2006). In addition, Spencer Sweeney made a name for himself as the founder of New York’s legendary Santos Party House. Sweeney regarded running this club – bringing together a wide range of people of all ages and backgrounds and playing a wide variety of musical styles with the goal of creating an experience that unites everybody – as part of his artistic work.
At Am Kupfergraben 10 :
TIM STORRIER, CRESSIDA CAMPBELL
14 January - 04 March, 2017
Contemporary Fine Arts is pleased to announce the exhibition Difficult Pleasures with works by Cressida Campbell (born in 1960 in Sydney) and Tim Storrier (born in 1949 in Sydney).
The idea for this exhibition came from Sidney-based collector Steven Nasteski, who over recent years has assembled a remarkable collection of international art. As is the case with almost every collection, the initial spark came from his encounter with the contemporary art of his home country. Cressida Campbell and Tim Storrier are two artists who are prominent and celebrated on the Australian continent, honoured there with museum exhibitions and prizes; yet they are not widely known to an international audience outside of the Commonwealth.
Cressida Campbell’s works are paintings on wood panels that she prepares like a printing block. First, she creates a drawing with fine lines on a piece of plywood. “When the drawing is wrong, then everything is wrong”, she says; hence, this part of the process takes the most time. Afterwards, she carves out every line from the wood with a fine knife, and paints it with watercolours. After several layers of paint, she sprays the picture with water and makes a print with it: the result is the painted wood block and an inverse unique print on paper.
While Cressida Campbell’s earlier works depict landscapes and street scenes, over the years her gaze is becoming increasingly more intimate, limiting itself almost exclusively to domestic interiors and still lifes. In their naturalism, they go beyond a mere depiction of what the artist sees and observes, and their artistry and craftsmanship has more in common with Japanese ukiyo-e prints than with western realism. Her works are devoted to the “material” of the everyday, not to the great classic themes. Campbell’s works captivate by the way they are produced and their timelessness. They stand for an art that resists the current continuous desire for meaning and “messages”, an art that can discover the knowledge of the world also in a flower still life.
Tim Storrier’s landscapes, on the other hand, are symbolically and emotionally charged. They depict the wildness and intransigence of Australian nature and serve as a backdrop for the dramatic interplay of symbols and ideas, culture and nature. While Campbell’s views of the things that surround her tend to be introverted, Storrier directs his gaze to the distance and expanse and the things behind them. The nocturnal starlit sky above the open void landscape contains Storrier’s memories of his childhood in the Australian outback and evenings with his father at the campfire. The bright sky of the Australian south, the seemingly impenetrable green ocean, just like the strips of fire and the burning horizons, have been characteristic elements of his paintings since the early 1980s.
Storrier‘s works are in numerous collections, among them the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.
At Grolmanstrasse 32/33 :
13 January - 18 February, 2017
Contemporary Fine Arts is pleased to announce the exhibition “Plüschtieroper” with works by Christa Dichgans (born in 1940 in Berlin), which will be opened on 12 January at 7pm with a presentation of her new publication Texte zu Bildern. Chris Dercon, the former director of the Tate Modern and incoming artistic director of Berlin’s Volksbühne will explore her career, her mode of working, and her motifs in a conversation with the artist.
Christa Dichgans, who has been painting for more than five decades, has been considered for a few years now as a pioneer of a German pop art. In the catalogue to the exhibition German Pop at Schirn-Kunsthalle from 2014, we read: “As early as 1968, Christa Dichgans formally anticipated a visual vocabulary that was to become popular in the US above all through the post-pop artist Jeff Koons in the 1990s and 2000s.”
The artistic career of Christa Dichgans began after her studies in Berlin at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste. The still life quickly became her most important genre, and the principle of mass and accumulation determined her painterly engagement with the consumerist behaviour of the years of the so-called economic miracle. When the artist was in New York with a fellowship from the DAAD in 1966, she chose something for her son out of a heap of toys at the Salvation Army. This encounter became the initial spark for her artistic practice that is informed by social criticism and realism, for which Dichgans has stood for her entire life. “In New York, Dichgans developed that pop style oscillating between cheerful and enigmatic, playful and critical, marked by numerous ruptures, which in 1966 became the trademark of her work”, writes the curator Belinda Grace Gardner.
In the following years, Dichgans broadened her thematic range; her painting style became freer, more gestural, and more individual. Her painting often concentrates on the city as a condensation of the existential. Skyscraper-like towers become a recurrent subject. They appear to the artist as grotesque symbols of power and arrogance. Accumulations of toys became over the course of her development battlefields – also of a life lived. Especially in recent years, these topoi are ironically counteracted by a new painterly lightness.
This is how Chris Dercon described it in his opening speech: “Dichgans’ raw, excessive, saturated, and labyrinthine painting also precedes the fractal geometric painting that was inspired in the 1970s by the mathematician Mandelbrot. So, Christa Dichgans painted chaos theory and computer paintings before they even existed in this form. And then there are perhaps important parallels with fellow artists: I’m thinking here of the scary child figures by Paula Rego, the alienated dolls by Marisol, or of Louise Bourgeois’ erratic balls of wool. They all had one thing in common: they were all women artists, and therefore were placed in the waiting loop. […] So, are the toy still lifes by Christa Dichgans perhaps portraits of her direct environment, or even self-portraits? Her accumulations of all kinds of everyday objects have an enormous innate sense of confidence and resistance. They create friction. They seem to be sleeping, but at the same time they are witnesses, and they can feel something. That’s what makes them so uncanny.”
The presentation on the bel étage of Contemporary Fine Arts’ new gallery space assembles works from the 1960s to today.
The publication Texte zu Bildern, just now published at Hirmer Verlag und presented on the occasion of the exhibition, assembles short essays and poems on her works by personal and artistic friends like A.R. Penck, Georg Baselitz, Piero Dorazio, Johannes Gachnang, Heinz Stahlhut, and others, as well as a conversation between the painter and Andreas van Dühren.