by Oliver Tepel
(in Köln Galerien 03.20 September-July)
The connection by the comma is not binding, the separation is not absolute either, on the contrary, the comma rarely separates words, terms or names that are put together at will. When it comes to the names of artists, however, the far more binding "&" is a rarity, Gilbert & George, Gert & Uwe Tobias or as a conceptual unit: Art & Language. Sometimes they are collaborations limited in time or to specific projects, as in Dosso & Battista Dossi, but they all illustrate the importance of the self in the production of art. The comma, on the other hand, connects projects rarely conceived by artists; it is the curator's linking sign. The comma may indicate a dazzling variety of possible relationships – no, actually it hides them and when we go to the gallery to see an exhibition with two names separated by a comma, we don't necessarily know what to expect. What is the nature of the connection? Visual similarities or programmatic ones? Perhaps a common history or do the works of art share something the curator discovered? Not always, when you leave such a double exhibition, you have clarified these questions for yourself.
Sergio Femar & Catherine Seher
Here the obligatory "&" was chosen and at the same time relativized a little by the title; "jux-ta-po-si-ti-on", so it is more about a close neighbourhood then. But what kind of neighbourhood is this? The work of Parisian Catherine Seher, born in 1958, draws its inspiration from art history without ever acting cannibally. Rather, it contains associations to many, to Degas and his experiments, to Cézanne's colours and surfaces, to Gabriele Münter's intermediate worlds, which depict neither figure nor individual or both at the same time, or to late Balthus and the consensual togetherness of idyll and danger. Young women, alone and in small groups, Seher paints in an inwardness that marries the cool distance of acrylic with the poetry of pastel. The work of the 1990 born Spanish artist Sergio Femar is also characterized by mixed techniques, acrylic and oil, often in combination with crayon. His abstract colour surfaces, often painted on wood, are of graphic rigour compared to Catherine Seher's painting, but the French artist's works also seem to dissolve into colour surfaces.
They combine a matt-coloured poetry with a determination that, in Femar's work, breaks the boundaries of the usual pictorial space and increasingly creates "objects". What both works have in common is a direct reference to the private sphere. Here, the curatorial confrontation allows the viewer to work out what is unifying in what is separating, thus sharpening the viewer's view.
Artist statement Sergio Femar:
"My work moves between the tranquility of my studio and the frenetic pace of contemporary culture and its transient nature. It leads the vandalism to a mature reflection, in other words, it brings back the joys of creation without feeling restricted by academic pressure. Risk is used as a link between dizziness and serenity.
My work must be connected to the current moment and the streets: art reflects the immediate present; it is part of our daily lives, objects that I find and transform. I believe in the idea of the full-time artist and that a work of art is subject to constant change.
Before I start to work, there is no other project in my head, materials come to me and so I start to connect with them, listen to their suggestions, I let the artwork flow and develop myself through this.
The French painter lives and works in Paris. Catherine Seher captures impressive views, often depicting figures in various landscapes, and evokes a strong sense of anonymity and isolation in her work.
By capturing the essence of a particular environment, but taking all the elements of meaning from it, Seher reduces the art of landscape and figure to its element and forces the viewer of her works to consider the mechanisms by which each component of the work is created. The result is a complete work that opens up the universality of art itself, one anonymous figure or view after another.