15 September - 18. November 2021
Vernissage 17 September from 6.30 pm
The exhibition Eigenlicht shows works by the artists Aline Schwibbe, Deborah Wargon, Paula Krause and Janina Brauer. The term ‘Eigenlicht’ (which translates to ‘intrinsic light’) is a generally outdated scientific term used to describe the shade of dark grey which people report seeing in the absence of light. The absence of light engenders moments of introspection, remembrance and dreams. The works exhibited in Eigenlicht relate to the concept of the subconscious in unique ways. Whether it be by drawing from dreams or from memories (individual as well as collective) the works explore a type of knowledge that is gained in moments of introspection - moments in which one’s eyes see no more than the dark grey of ‘Eigenlicht’.
Memory and past trauma play a significant role in Aline Schwibbe’s varied practice. Through different media such as drawing, film and photography, Schwibbe revisits fragmented memories which she considers to be in a cyclical occurrence rather than a linear history. In Schwibbe’s words, “there is no beginning and no clear end”. Just as in a dream, individual events and storylines intermingle and cross-reference to result in a hardly decipherable meaning. The series “No End of Sleep” (2021) to which the five exhibited works on velvet belong, explores the state in which we are unable to decipher between dream and reality. Film stills printed on velvet are layered with oil pastel drawings and stitching. While the printed film stills portray what appears to be empirical evidence of past occurrences, the revision of these memories through the drawing and stitching seems to suggest another sphere of reality and knowledge beyond the empirical. The idea of the non-linear chronology of experience and memory is further addressed in Schwibbe’s short video named Your Heart Can‘t Beat Unless I Tell It To. This stop motion video made up of 150 individually drawn frames utilises the interplay of both abstract and figurative forms to create a sequence that though essentially relative to time through the video format, questions the rigidity of chronology.
Working in oil on canvas, Janina Brauer, like Aline Schwibbe draws on memories in the expanded sense. Working with the subconscious to expand on feelings that arise with regards to personal or collective trauma, isolation as well as environmental conditions, Brauer translates photographs and sketches into figurative works that engender a multitude of associations. The scenes which Brauer depicts, whether they be landscapes or tableaus of individual characters, are brought to life through Brauer’s skill in storytelling. Nevertheless, in a similar fashion to Schwibbe, the stories are not legible through a singular narrative. The work Ambona, exhibited in Eigenlicht, shows an ominous landscape of a forest lake with a watchtower in the background. Red light glows at the periphery of the lake which has been delved in the dark blue hue of dusk. Brauer paints a scene of palpable silence that instils a sense of serenity broken only by the presence of the watchtower. Does the viewer feel a sense of ease or is this a false sense of security? The narrative is not made explicit but its presence is viscerally felt. This dream-like imagery is influenced by Brauer’s childhood memories and family history on the Russian border.
Deborah Wargon's paper works seem to grow over the walls to which they are delicately attached. The intricate patterns that intertwine playfully develop the artist's own visual language, which at the same time seems to be influenced by the iconography of ancient cultures. Hereby, collective and personal memory and meaning is fused. The paper structures are infinite in their motion, there is no tangible beginning or end. Furthermore, the reflective and repetitive swirling patterns of Wargon's works allude to the rhythms of her work as a composer and musician. The paper compositions are comparable to a never-ending melody.
The shadows that surround and mimic the works invite us to think of Wargon's paper works as sculptures rather than two-dimensional pieces. In addition to the paper works, Eigenlicht also features three ceramic sculptures by Wargon. The ceramic sculptures expand on the concept (present in Wargon’s paper works) of motion frozen in a moment in time. The organic forms of the black cloud, the torso and the knot allude to fluctuating states and inherent kinetic forces. Nevertheless, the sculptures are rendered in ceramic, a material that is inevitably steady in its solid form - to change means to break.
After working exclusively in painting, Paula Krause expanded her practice to include drawing and sculpture. Krause's drawings are not preliminary sketches for her paintings, as she regards both media as independent in their creative potential. Her drawings are created in cycles, each referencing and at the but also further developing what has gone before. Although the themes and style of Krause's paper and canvas works are not diametrically opposed, they are in constant competition with each other.
Thematically, Krause has a keen interest in the dissolution of forms. Objects and bodies are abstracted, torn and dissected to reveal their essence, sometimes to the point of disappearance. This disintegration takes place on the canvas and paper before the viewer's eyes. This destructive and at the same time invigorating dynamic characterises the scenes in Krause's works. Violence and passion between protagonist and antagonist are the predominant driving forces in the interplay of Krause's subjects. These visceral forces manifest an unresolved tension that precariously holds the composition together.
The colours of Krause's work are muted, browns, sands and warm greys mingle with delicate, fleshy pinks. The colours create a distance between reality and the scenes depicted in Krause's works. Krause's subject seems to exist in a sphere separate from the viewer, perhaps in history, memory or hypothesis? The frequent depiction of creatures that are half-man, half-animal, such as the Minotaur, reinforce this assumption.
Deborah Wargon: wall sculpture and ceramic sculpture
Paula Krause: works on paper