Opening to be announced
Group exhibition featuring young and established illustrators
Illustration, whether in the form of book illustrations, as a design medium or as a doodle in one’s own notebook. This ubiquity of illustration, however, does not serve to reduce its value, it rather proves the strength of the format as a mode of expression. However, illustration goes beyond its everyday use; in the context of fine art, illustration can outgrow its function as accompanying visual material and assert itself as a stand-alone work.
This growth is a significant characteristic of contemporary illustration as it is no longer timid to approach and even cross the boundaries of its genre. Thus, in the introduction to Illusive 4: Contemporary Illustration (2015) John O’Reilly described illustrators as flaneurs in the sense of Baudelaire. (1) Like a flaneur, illustrators wander confidently – often, beyond the boundaries of their genres. This edging towards new possibilities does not happen arbitrarily but in the sense of the contemporary development of illustration. In our generally fluid age where magazines can be read digitally, while e-mails are briefly checked, to then briefly interrupted by a pop-up, illustration can reach the viewer in a new variety of ways. O’Reilly suggests the term ‘image making’ as an alternative to illustration, as it better explains this widespread use of illustration. Image making can be “abstract and figurative, static and mobile, an image and an object”. (2)
In O’Reilly’s terms, illustration is understood and presented in the exhibition Marking Territory as an expanding genre. The range of styles, media, formats and materials expands our understanding of the illustration. The exhibition’s visitor is exposed to the expansive scope of the genre ranging from large-sized digital prints to small-format drawings. Classic illustrations in the form of book illustrations such as the original works by Ofra Amit or Leo Kaplan likewise form a crucial part of this exhibition. Furthermore, works such as the book by Karen Exner, which function solely through illustration are likewise exhibited. The sculpture of a Minotaur by Paula Krause, which interacts with her painting of the same subject, leads our understanding of illustration into the third dimension.
The illustrators for this exhibition range from established to young and emerging artists. The difference in age and experience, however, cannot be seen as a disparity in quality. The juxtaposition of the so-called ‘old’ and ‘new’ is more fluid than linear. Up-and-coming illustration today does not break away from its foundation but builds on it and reaches for new heights and forms. The up-and-coming illustrators of this exhibition use a wide variety of media, ranging from pencil, pen and paint to digital drawings, risography and sculpture. Thus, the works in this exhibition present a far-reaching but not exclusive picture of contemporary illustration.
The title Marking Territory points to the expansive development of contemporary illustration in a fine art context. Exploring new territory, discovering new areas and literally marking them with a pencil, paintbrush, pen or even chisel means breaking through the boundaries of the genre and giving free rein to creativity.
1 John O’Reilly, Illusive 4: Contemporary Illustration, (Berlin: Die Gestalten Verlag, 2015), 2.
Rojo & Kreß
Leonardo Alessandro Alliata