Arran Rahimian

TIME

 

Exclusively online from Sunday 20 November at 6pm
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We are pleased to announce the 10th presentation in our series of curated online exhibitions of works by our gallery artists, launched in January 2021. In parallel to our regular physical programme in the gallery, we are focusing on less frequently shown or older works. From Sunday 20 November at 6pm, we present here for the first time with a solo exhibition paintings by the British artist Arran Rahimian (born 1991, lives and works in Edinburgh). As one of the two winners of our ART MATTERS 5 competition last April, Rahimian received this online solo show as a prize.

 

From 20/11/2022 at 6pm, you can see the works here below in our Viewing Room and Picture Gallery. At the same time, all works will be offered for sale in our online shop. We will be happy to send you further information on request. Please contact us at: art@galerie-biesenbach.com or +49-174-490 96 35.

 

About Arran Rahimian's "TIME" ... more >


Arran Rahimian, born 1991, lives and works in Edinburgh, Scotland. Rahimian studied at Leith School of Art and then went on to specialise in Sculpture at Edinburgh College of Art. The sculptural presence that an object holds plays a significant role in his work, always exposing the rawness of the surface. Arran’s work is collected by art collectors from all around the world, appreciating his ability to visualise time and movement through a line as well as capturing a reflexive element narrated through the rich exposure of colour and space.

Lately, Arran Rahimian has been working closely with old books and highlighting their individual beauty. Fascinated by the mystery behind each one, he’s created his pieces using reclaimed book covers, some dating as far back as 1900. These books have aged with natural textures creating on the surfaces; over the years these marks have built a subtle and amazing feel on top of beautiful colours.

On the other hand, his canvas works are a visual documentation of time, leaving natural elements to compose movement. Each canvas work is a landscape created by the landscape itself.

"I consider the outdoors to be an extension to my studio; it plays a significant role in my work. My practice is conducted spontaneously and intuitively through walking. I am continually intrigued by the natural elements that surround me as their movement and presence inspire me."

Rahimian’s work is a visual documentation of time and the effect of time on materials. The aim is for the viewer to focus purely on colour, texture and the subtle marks on the pieces.

"As an artist, I am excited by the unpredictability and rawness of creating a painting. I do not plan my works, nor have a preconceived idea of how they will look. I look to create work that is visually stimulating without becoming overworked.“

 

 

 

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Hideaki Yamanobe

Klangassoziationen (Sound Associations)

1997-2022

 

Exclusively online from Sunday 21 August at 6pm (until 15 October 2022)
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We are pleased to announce the 9th presentation in our series of curated online exhibitions of works by our gallery artists, launched in January 2021. In parallel to our regular physical programme in the gallery, we are focusing on less frequently shown or older works. From Sunday 21 August at 6pm, we will present a solo exhibition of new and older paintings from the ongoing Klangassoziationen series by Japanese artist Hideaki Yamanobe (born 1964 in Tokyo, lives and works in Cologne, Dusseldorf and Tokyo).

 

From 21/08/2022 at 6pm, you can see the works here below in our Viewing Room and Picture Gallery. At the same time, all works will be offered for sale in our online shop. We will be happy to send you further information on request. Please contact us at: art@galerie-biesenbach.com or +49-174-490 96 35. Selected works can be viewed in the gallery by appointment!

 

About Hideaki Yamanobe's "Klangassoziationen" ... more >


Hideaki Yamanobe
Klangassoziationen (Sound Associations)
1997-2022


Hideaki Yamanobe's painting must be seen in the context of artistic developments and diverse currents in 20th century America and Europe. The painter (*1964 in Tokyo), who comes from a famous Japanese family of calligraphers, is deeply familiar with the Japanese painting culture. He first studied the works of Cézanne and Cubism (with Prof. Ohnuma, Tokyo), then the painterly movements of the Western 'Informel' (Tobey, Mortherwell, Rothko, Gorky, Wols).

Kenzo Okada (1902-82), who in the 1950s enriched Japanese painting with aspects of abstract art experienced specifically in New York, became important for Yamanobe's artistic development. In contrast to the western tendencies of 'Informel', towards the complete autonomy of the picture - the detachment of painting from real points of reference - he took Okada's basic idea with him to Europe, that a work of art is only 'alive' when the reference to nature is perceptible as a ‘natural breath’.

In 1992 Yamanobe left Japan to find his artistic identity in Europe. The first 'landscape paintings' clearly indicate Okada's above-mentioned painterly intentions: they are the visualised breath of a characteristic landscape.

Since 1995/96, Yamanobe - standing entirely in the tradition of Paul Klee - has been exploring the meditative possibility of finding images for musical sensations. Kiyoko Wakamatsu (1914-95), whose late abstract period ("N° 1") shows a spiritual as well as painterly connection to Klee and Kandinsky - but also to Miro - must be considered as a decisive impulse for the 'new phase' of his work. It is not only the personal encounters with the painter that have a stimulating effect, but also the close relationship of both to music: Kishiko, Wakamatsu's wife, is a pianist, and it must not go unmentioned for the understanding of the 'sound associations': Yuko Suzuki, an internationally performing soloist, is Yamanobe's wife at the time.

Small panels of simple form provide the basis, conceived as resonating bodies as well. Painting grounds are mostly traditional Japanese rice paper and canvases made of cotton nettle, stretched on high rectangular frames. Mixed techniques of oil, lacquer and acrylic paints, but also old glue and pigment techniques, as well as Japanese ink and colour formulations (natural colours of the Zen monks) are used. With partly thick spatulas and the integration of unconventional painting techniques (collages, frottages) Yamanobe succeeds in creating a palpable materiality on the picture surface. In this way he creates an exciting interplay between illusionistic transparency and painterly three-dimensionality.

Light zones of varying intensity create atmospheric depth from the sensitively varied modulations and layered formal grounds. Through the skillful placement of contrasting zones occurs what the Spanish painter Antoni Tàpies called the miracle of painting: "...when dull and inert matter begins to speak with an incomparable expressive power.

In these immaterialised general tones - tempered from sparse colour tones: sometimes varied in earthy tones, sometimes chromatically saturated in broken complements, or laid out in cold and warm grisaille surfaces - signs are embedded that, in the moment of seeing, orchestrate themselves into pictorial sounds. Yamanobe uses the method of domestic calligraphy for this, but not the 'signs of meaning' of the old pictorial scripts. With a groping hand, he draws tactile symbols in rhythmic movements and invents musical symbols from the inexhaustible arsenal of purely 'pictorial means’, which sometimes oscillate openly, or remain hermetically and strictly enclosed. 

This small world of simple forms: circles, ovals, crosses, angular and line fragments indicate movement in their extension, position or deformation and the unstable rhythm or stand in the field of tension of the lines surrounding them. Enveloping and filling forms as well as interlocking shapes and surfaces are deliberately used as 'contrasts of form'. They enrich the spatial conditions, create vistas. Unformed 'blotograms' and freely gesticulating line ornaments or broken trace lines in strict parallelism initiate sound progressions pointing beyond the surface.

In the interplay of form and ground, through contrasting and attenuating, overlapping and blurring, Yamanobe gives the picture surface the character of a vibrating resonance membrane in which sound chords vibrate and tones disappear into it, echoing in shadows, losing themselves in the indeterminate. This painterly-aesthetic scanning of the sensitive sensory space always remains suspended between passive acceptance and active creation of form, seeking an immediate expression for the sensual in the human being.

The serial arrangement of the coherent sound units into large-scale ensembles aims at an 'orchestration' of the rhythmic structures and tonal tones. In the 'in-between' of the individual images, the polyphonic intervals fade away into reverberations - the spatial distances correspond to the pauses in the music.

The overall conception of the sound creations may well follow the aesthetic considerations that Kandinsky paraphrased in analogy to nature: "Just as in music every construction possesses its own rhythm, just as in the completely 'accidental' distribution of things in nature there is also always a rhythm, so also in painting." ("On the Spiritual in Art").

Yamanobe's work is fundamentally conceptual. Only in this way can the dialogical and evocative process between pictorial unity and wholeness succeed. By rearranging the elements and contextual painting processes - which leave additions and revisions open until the end - the artist succeeds in uniting the final arrangements of the interval units into a well-ordered instrument of extraordinary sonority.

In their meditative orientation, Yamanobe's "sound associations" touch on areas of the metaphysical, encourage 'contemplation'. Those who have learned that the eye sees more than the superficially objective are impressed and inspired by the sensitivity inherent in the images.


- Wilfried Klausmann, 1997 -

 

 

 

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Rebecca Bournigault

We were never lost

 

Exclusively online from 12 June to 20 August, 2022
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We are pleased to announce the 8th presentation in our series of curated online exhibitions of works by our gallery artists, launched in January 2021. In parallel to our regular physical programme in the gallery, we are focusing on less frequently shown or older works. From Sunday 12 June at 6pm, we will present a solo exhibition of new and older watercolours by the French artist Rebecca Bournigault (born 1970 in Colmar), who lives and works in Paris.

 

From 12/06/2022 at 6pm, you can see the works here below in our Viewing Room and Picture Gallery. At the same time, all works will be offered for sale in our online shop. We will be happy to send you further information on request. Please contact us at: art@galerie-biesenbach.com or +49-174-490 96 35. Selected works can be viewed in the gallery by appointment!

 

About Rebecca Bournigault ... more >


Rebecca Bournigault (*1970 in Colmar, lives and works in Paris) has made an international name for herself as a video and photographic artist since the 1990s. In addition to digital media, she also uses painting and drawing to devote herself to her main subject, the portrait. Bournigault's work has been shown in numerous museums, institutions and galleries and is in renowned private and public collections such as François Pinault, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris or Maison Européenne de la Photographie de la Ville de Paris.

Bournigault is a contemporary portrait artist who works mainly with video, but also uses drawings, watercolours and photographs. She works with the portrait and the icon, two sides of the same coin, each referencing the real and the fictional, the model and the singular, taking care to constantly reorder things in order to better re-examine their relationship to the Other.

In Bournigault's work, there is a constant tension between outside and inside, above and below, moon and sun, animal and plant. Do they love each other or tear each other apart? Does it come or is it "transverted"? And the blood, where does it come from? Where does it flow to? Is it still warm or already cold? And the music, where does it come from? Who penetrates it?

Bournigault often uses pornographic films as a model for her sexually explicit watercolours, in which she portrays women - detached from the film setting - and thus stimulates reflection on the exploitation of the female body today.

 

 

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Daniel Müller Jansen

a tense endlessness

13/02 to 09/04/2022 ... more >

 

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We are pleased to present the 7th show in our series of curated online exhibitions of work by our gallery artists, launched in January 2021. In parallel to our regular physical programme in the gallery, we are herewith focusing on less frequently shown or older works. Starting on Sunday 13 February at 6pm, we present here the solo exhibition a tense endlessness by German photo artist Daniel Müller Jansen (born 1978 in Düren, lives and works in Cologne): selected excerpts from three of his photographic series of architectural ensembles in South Africa after the end of apartheid.

 

From 13/02/2022 at 6pm, you can see the works here below in our Viewing Room and Picture Gallery. At the same time, all works will be offered for sale in our online shop. We will be happy to send you further information on request. Please contact us at: art@galerie-biesenbach.com or +49-174-490 96 35. Selected works can be viewed in the gallery by appointment!

 

 

 

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Artist Statement Daniel Müller Jansen ... more >


The exhibition "a tense endlessness" focuses on the themes of architecture and post-apartheid and thus gives us an insight into the structures of modern satellite towns in Cape Town. On display are primarily photographs from the so-called gated communities and housing projects that Daniel Müller Jansen has taken on his travels in South Africa since 2008. The images from the two already well-known series "there is me & there is you" and "Overexposed" enter into a dialogue with the artist's current group of works – "Great Expectations".

Asked about the most important influence on his work, Müller Jansen answers: "Italian Mannerism!". This influence is clearly visible in his three projects on new forms of settlement in South Africa. "I also achieve a comparable luminosity and colourfulness as in Mannerist paintings in my photographs by deliberately overexposing them to glaring sunlight. This emphasises both the artificiality and model-like quality of the architectures shown, as well as suggesting the needs and desires of their planners and inhabitants."

In the series "there is me & there is you", the architectures of the gated communities of wealthy South Africans are juxtaposed with those from social housing projects of poorer citizens. Between realistic, familiar architectural elements and bizarre, pastel colour effects, the images confront the viewer with deserted cityscapes marked by conformity. "All my photographs have a painterly quality and visual radiance, coupled with a socio-political level. Because of this ambivalence, my works are often perceived as both attractive and irritating. At first, the viewer is attracted by the particular aesthetics and pastel colours – but at second glance, my photographs raise questions about the backgrounds to the architectures and structures shown."

In the series "Overexposed", the architectures from over 40 different gated communities once again merge into a kind of social portrait, showing constructions of community and simultaneous demarcation. Just as the title initially seems to address the artist's photographic technique, here it is rather the attitudes and divisions of a society that are illuminated through architectures and their security measures. "Architectures are packaging of a society and its attitude. And as such, I have elaborated the settlements in my photographs. This series is thus a kind of portrait of society that does not show individual fates, but rather the places and architectures that were conceived and built by people for people."

With the group of works "Great Expectations", Müller Jansen once again approaches the social housing projects of Cape Town's periphery. Theoretically, these images are documentary photographs; they could also be understood as observations on themes such as poverty, ecology and isolation, but in fact they are sociological studies whose language is the image and whose subject is architecture. And so the series title already hints at an almost insoluble problem, whose images thematise waiting and expectation in a poetic way – his photographs pay tribute to the moment in the emergence of a possible civil society between hope and construction, between reappraisal and reparation, between wish and reality.

The online exhibition "a tense endlessness" shows a selection of these series, which have lost none of their relevance 14 years after the first photographs were taken and 28 years after apartheid. In the sense of a causal chain whose events mutually represent cause and effect, Müller Jansen states his variant of the chicken-and-egg problem in this sense: "What came first? Should the attitude of a society have an influence on architecture, then architecture in turn has an influence on society, or not? Because despite shared aspirations for the future in South African society, improving actual conditions, as well as independence and equality of opportunity, is a huge social and political challenge."

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Sergio Femar

Granítico

28/11/2021 to 12/02/2022 ... more >

 

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We are pleased to present the 6th show in our series of curated online exhibitions of work by our gallery artists, launched in January. In parallel to our regular physical programme in the gallery, we are focusing on less frequently shown or older works. Starting on 28 November at 6pm, we present here the solo exhibition Granítico by Sergio Femar (born 1990 in Galicia, lives and works in Berlin and Galicia) with new paintings, assemblages and works on paper.

 

From 28/11/2021 at 6pm, you can see the works here below in our Viewing Room and Picture Gallery. At the same time, all works will be offered for sale in our online shop. We will be happy to send you further information on request. Please contact us at: art@galerie-biesenbach.com or +49-174-490 96 35.

 

 

 

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About Sergio Femar ... more >


“My work is part of the European pictorial tradition that affirms from abstraction its will to know the world. In line with the great painting that passed from the past century to the most current abstraction, I respond to the challenge of great artists, hence the intense vitality of an artistic process that awakens the hidden connections in the eye that looks, training it to see through. Shape, colour and composition.

Without emotional or anecdotal references, the work represents itself, from the forcefulness of matter, to reach the evidence of the spirit. There are no “topics”, there are “universals”. I work with a wide range of aesthetic strategies, materials and supports that are part of my daily life, with the aim of delving deeper into the creative process. My starting point is the moment in which I live, a capitalism saturated with consumable novelties, from which I rescue the enduring elements to give them a new form. It is not difficult to find in my production the elements that were thrown away by the consumer chain, which discards things in its frenzy of accumulating new, equally disposable products. Hence my recycled fabrics, wood or rubble, are transformed in my work into testimonies of a sustainability increasingly compromised by the system.

To insist on the act of painting is thus the unfinished performance of the matter in search of its deepest meaning. More humanity.”


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David Rosado

Mac & Cheese

29/08 to 16/10/2021 ... more >


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We are pleased to present the 5th show in our series of curated online exhibitions of work by our gallery artists, launched in January. In parallel to our regular physical programme in the gallery, we are focusing on less frequently shown or older works. Starting on 29 August at 6pm, we present here the solo exhibition Mac and Cheese by David Rosado (born 1976 in Evora, Portugal, lives and works in LIsbon) with paintings from 2017-2021 as well as a brand new wall sculpture.

 

From 29/08/2021 at 6pm, you can see the works here below in our Viewing Room and Picture Gallery. At the same time, all works will be offered for sale in our online shop. We will be happy to send you further information on request. Please contact us at: art@galerie-biesenbach.com or +49-174-490 96 35.

 

 

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About David Rosado ... more >


Arbitrary Choices

"Through his work in various media such as sculpture, painting and installation, David Rosado investigates the norms of identity and culture in modern society. The artist struggles with pieces of current life today, painting childhood paradoxes and subliminal superimpositions on the created environments on canvas. This juxtaposition of materials and contexts that David Rosado addresses, reinforce contemporary issues of social stratification, a thoughtful and direct way to make us travel to a remote time where everything was simpler.

The general concept is based on the construction of the conjuncture of the process in relation to the unity of art, which goes through arbitrary choices at first, apparently disconnected from each other, but which are related in their composition and graphic evolution, establishing little by little combinations of a potential order that emerges from successive additions and a constant re-equating of the global set through erasure and overlapping, in a renewed and attentive look at urban street culture, looking through this for its own space and framing in artistic creation, through a classic genre like painting, which transposes surfaces and continues to reinforce the idea that everything contributes to a globally precise set."

David Rosado
2021

 

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PUTPUT

Keeping House - A Photographic Series

04/07 to 28/08/2021 ... more >


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We are pleased to present the 4th part of our new series of curated online exhibitions of works by our gallery artists. Parallel to our regular physical programme in the gallery, we are herewith focusing on rarely shown or even older works. From 4 July at 6pm, we thus present the photographic series Keeping House by the Swiss/Danish artist duo PUTPUT.

From 04/07/2021 at 6pm, you can see the works here below in our Viewing Room and Picture Gallery. At the same time, all works will be offered for sale in our online shop. We will be happy to send you further information on request. Please contact us at: art@galerie-biesenbach.com or +49-174-490 96 35.

 

 

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About PUTPUT ... more >

PUTPUT was established in 2011 as a cross disciplinary collaboration between Stephan Friedli (CH) and Ulrik Martin Larsen (DK). Working primarily with conceptual still-life photography, objects/sculpture and publishing.

In their artistic practice PUTPUT explore our immediate surroundings and the objects we use, abuse, admire and interact with in everyday life. Often entering a negotiation or interrogation with specific objects to fully examine what they are and what they may become. Ideas are exhausted, distilled and refined to accomplish works that are self-explanatory, ambiguous and profoundly superficial.

 

PUTPUT continues its ability to create images that are “both perfectly natural and out of place”
by Lucy Bourton

Follow link to read the article on “It’s Nice That”:
https://www.itsnicethat.com/articles/putput-photography-090518

 

PUTPUT
by Ashley Munns

Follow link to read the interview in “Coeval Magazine”:
https://www.coeval-magazine.com/coeval/putput

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Catherine Seher

Selected Works on Paper and Canvas

16/05 to 03/07/2021 ... more >

 

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We are pleased to present the third part of the new series of curated online exhibitions of works by our gallery artists. Parallel to our regular offline programme in the gallery, we are herewith focusing on rarely shown or even older works. From 16 May, we present selected drawings and paintings by Catherine Seher.

From 16/05/2021 at 6pm, you can see the works here below in our Viewing Room and Picture Gallery. At the same time, all works will be offered for sale in our online shop. We will be happy to send you further information on request. You are also welcome to arrange an individual appointment at the gallery, where we will be happy to show you the works in person. Please contact us at: art@galerie-biesenbach.com or +49-174-490 96 35.

 

 

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About Catherine Seher ... more >

French painter Catherine Seher (lives and works in Paris) conjures a powerful sense of anonymity and isolation within her body of work. Capturing the essence of a given environment - striking views that often depict figures within various landscapes - but extracting from it any signifiers of meaning, Seher thus reduces the art of both the landscape and the figure to its most element, forcing the viewer of her work to consider the very mechanics by which each component of the work is created. The result is a body of work that taps into the universality of art itself, one anonymous figure or vista at a time.

Born in Paris in 1958, Seher graduated from the École Nationale des Beaux-Arts de Paris in 1983. Today she is based in Paris but has enjoyed the showcase of her work in locales across Europe. Recent exhibitions of her work include those at Galerie Christine Colon, Liege (20); Galerie GNG, Paris (2020); Galerie Peters-Barenbrock, Berlin (2019) and Galerie Biesenbach, Cologne (2020).

An artist of great sensitivity, she speaks of her work as follows: "To paint is to venture into the unknown, that's where my daily journey begins... the canvas very quickly becomes a passage towards dreamlike worlds where landscapes follow one another, dense then bare, where silhouettes appear and disappear... In the end I keep what I have imposed after much struggle and thickness of paint. These ageless characters who often come without my knowledge, seem to hold some secret, nimbus witnesses of the reflections of the world.

The writer Huguette Hérin-Travers, who is one of her collectors, also expresses herself: "Catherine Seher's paintings are filled with characters that are evanescently inscribed in a landscape where the boundaries and landmarks disappear. The anonymous silhouettes give us a vision of a dismantled world, but one that is full of meaning. We are in a troubling face to face. Strange characters hail us, while their eyes are already guiding us towards what is to come, and we are introduced into a world of suggested thoughts. The spectator is thus questioned and then concerned by these images evoking spontaneous, almost magical expressions. One finds there the force of the first gestures, the most intimate forms."

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Douglas Witmer

Selected Drawings and Paintings

27/02 to 10/04/2021 ... more >

 

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We are pleased to present the second part of the new series of curated online exhibitions of works by our gallery artists. Parallel to our regular offline programme in the gallery, we are herewith focusing on rarely shown or even older works. Until 10 April, we present selected drawings and paintings by Douglas Witmer.

From 27/02/2021 at 6pm, you can see the works here below in our Viewing Room and Picture Gallery. At the same time, all works will be offered for sale in our online shop. We will be happy to send you further information on request. You are also welcome to arrange an individual appointment at the gallery, where we will be happy to show you the works in person. Please contact us at: art@galerie-biesenbach.com or +49-174-490 96 35.

 

 

 

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About Douglas Witmer ... more >

For over two decades Douglas Witmer (American, b. 1971) has steadily pursued a personal inquiry into the materiality of the painted object, refining his processes within the framework of reductive abstract painting. His elemental compositional structures are activated by sensuous color and various improvised gestural and incidental actions. His ongoing interest is establishing a visual place that offers someone an open invitation for a personal experience of seeing and feeling.

Douglas Witmer about working on paper
My studio always has a plentiful supply of paper on hand and ready to go. As it is for many painters, working on paper offers me an open space of exploration where unexpected outcomes may be more embraced in ways I would not allow on my canvases. My works on paper are made simultaneously to my works on canvas. Whereas it is uncommon for two of my paintings on canvas to share the same paint, it is very common for me to share the same paint from a canvas across several works on paper, or for a color developed on paper to find its way to a canvas.
Since 2000 I have regularly used the 19 x 14 cm (7.5 x 5.5 inch) format on paper. I call everything I make on paper this size a drawing, even though they share the identical media as other works. “Drawing” has become for me a mindset more than a product. My drawing mindset is both a “recitation of mantras” via techniques and compositional strategies, like a musician practicing scales, as well as a format for complete improvisation.

Short biography Douglas Witmer
Witmer’s work has been exhibited internationally. Venues include The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Tiger Strikes Asteroid (Philadelphia), Hemphill Fine Arts (Washington DC), Sydney Non-Objective (Australia), ParisCONCRET (France), Gray Contemporary (Houston), Galerie Biesenbach (Germany), The Painting Center (NYC), MoMA PS1, and numerous others.
Witmer holds a B.A. from Goshen College and an M.F.A. from The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He lives and works in Philadelphia.

More about Douglas Witmer here.

 

 

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Hideaki Yamanobe

... on paper

17/01 to 26/02/2021 ... more >

 

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We are pleased to introduce a newly conceived series of curated online exhibitions of works by our gallery artists. Parallel to our regular offline programme in the gallery, we are focusing on rarely shown or older works. To start with, we present selected works on paper by Hideaki Yamanobe.

In the field of tension between drawing, collage and painting, the Japanese artist gives greater weight to the representational element, especially in his works on paper, and breaks with his characteristic layers of colour based on black and white.

In his serially created compositions on paper – as in his paintings on canvas, the titles of the works reflect variations and further developments of a motif idea – Yamanobe assigns special importance to the painting ground. In contrast to his canvases, where the edges are emphasised, here the artist plays with the space, the emptiness around the mostly centred motif: The material "paper" – handmade paper or solid drawing cardboard – becomes an integral part of the work as a kind of frame.

From 17/01/2021 at 6pm you can view the works here in our Viewing Room and further below in our Picture Gallery. All works will be available for sale in our for the occasion newly created online shop. We will be happy to send you further information on request.

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About Hideaki Yamanobe ... more >

The fullness of emptiness. Notes on the paintings of Hideaki Yamanobe
by Peter Lodermeyer

The paintings of Hideaki Yamanobe exude an immense calm and a concentrated strength, gathered in itself. With their unassuming, introverted yet self confident presence, they demand patient and attentive viewing. This firstly has to do with their considerable non-use of colour as they do not offer the eye any superficial colouristic stimuli which could be quickly linked with associations. Yamanobe usually focuses on the colours black and white and the countless blends of these two shades as nuances of grey. The objection that black, white and grey are, physically speaking, “non-colours” is as obvious as irrelevant: the painter sees only colour. Yamanobe’s white is, indeed, never pure white but, instead, is tinged with yellow due to a soft ochre stain which also makes it appear warmer, “like teeth” or “like rice” – comparisons from nature which Yamanobe draws very seriously. (If, in a few paintings, a strong English red does appear, it comes across almost as a dramatic show of colour amongst the quiet of the black-white-grey painting area: like a signal or appellative).

The reduction of the colouring guides the viewer’s attention to the material substance of the paintings, in particular, whereby even the smallest details of the texture become important. Yamanobe’s paintings want to be viewed not only in their light-dark values but also with regard to their material qualities. It is not coincidental that Yamanobe always uses a canvas support which is at least 4 to 5 centimetres thick, even for small format works, as this gives the work body, physical presence and object quality which also always appeals to the sense of touch. For the artist, born in Tokyo in 1964, the physical appearance of the body of his painting is associated with a very specific idea: it is important that he gives his paintings a certain look, similar to the rice cakes (mochi) which are traditionally given at Japanese new-year’s celebrations when they are cut into rectangular pieces – a little yellowish, slightly transparent, slightly irregular after baking and a little chapped at the edges. For western viewers the comparison of painting with food may be quite hard to comprehend especially as we in the West are not used to valuing the visual aesthetic qualities of foods as highly as the Japanese. Regarding this, the French philosopher Roland Barthes keenly observed: “Japanese raw food is basically visual nature; it describes a particular colour state of meat and plant food (whereby the colour is never exhausted in a catalogue of shades but is an indication of a whole spectrum of tactile qualities of the materials [...]). Wholly of visual character (meant for viewing, put together and worked, as for the view of a painter or illustrator), food says that it is not profound [...] No Japanese dish has a centre [...].[1]

This, too, applies to Yamanobe’s paintings. They do not have a centre, their appearance is “centrifugal” and the opposite of what is traditionally understood to mean composition and what Gerhard Richter once ironically summed up as: “Composition is when the main figure is in the middle.[2] Yet this is not a case of “all-over” either as seen in the works of Jackson Pollock or monochrome painting as Yamanobe’s works do not, strictly speaking, exhibit an equal distribution of colour application which the viewer could also imagine extending beyond the edges of the painting. In most of Yamanobe’s paintings, the edges are emphasized; they are seen in varying degrees of intensity and are usually the darkest areas of his paintings. As a result, the actual painting area is perceived as “empty” and it is only upon second viewing that a space reveals itself between the edges depicting “something”. This is undoubtedly where Yamanobe’s knowledge of traditional Japanese (and Chinese) landscape painting – in which emptiness plays a decisive role – has an effect. Yet while, in traditional Asian painting, there is a gaping emptiness between the motifs, painted in black drawing ink, the black areas of Yamanobe’s work (partly the still visible black background) tend to withdraw to the edges whilst the actual painting area appears veiled or shrouded by layers of white acrylic paint. It is only upon second viewing that you notice that these seemingly empty areas do, indeed, contain a whole wealth of “information”. However, the substantiation of these minimal hints into actual notions or ideas is left to the imagination of the viewer.

The different degrees of density of the white layers of paint on the black background result in soft varying nuances of lightness within the painting areas which reveal a certain depth when viewed for longer and from a distance. After looking at the paintings for a certain period, many reveal hints of landscapes. Note, however, that Yamanobe does not paint landscapes or abstract landscape patterns but, instead, allows the nuances in lightness which arise from the painting process to be viewed as proto landscape elements. One could almost say that the artist succeeds in articulating vague memories, or remnants of these, of landscape experiences in painting. The viewer may, for example, believe he has seen the blurred outlines of trees, mountains or even buildings in the fog or in dense snow flurries – the “cold” interpretation. Alternatively, you could also think of steam rising from hot springs – the “hot” version of associations of viewers who are familiar with the traditional Japanese open air steam baths (onsen).

Yamanobe places great importance on the ambivalence of the associations which his paintings trigger. This also applies to the scratching which characterises a large part of his works. These may, on the one hand, be seen as aggression or injury of the painting body or, on the other hand – with greater distance to the painting – they could suggest rain or water drops trickling down a window. To create these scratches, Yamanobe has, incidentally, found a typical Japanese instrument: after he noticed that steel combs and similar tools created lines which were too rigid and mechanical, he changed to the stalks of the traditional fans (uchiwa) from which he removed the paper. With the aid of the radial, extremely supple bamboo stalks of differing lengths, he manages to create a vibrant line drawing, never fully foreseeable, with numerous crossovers and variable breadths.

The ambivalence of the associative qualities of Yamanobe’s paintings can even be seen on the micro level of the colour application and brush style. Wave-like structures, so to speak, in the layers of white are typical of his paintings which evoke, for example, in their varying degrees of intensity, associations such as snakeskin, goose feathers or snow drifts (here again the “hot” and “cold” associations). These structures are created by a continually halting, “stuttering” application of the texture paste which is applied to the black background with a flat brush.

The openness and complexity of Yamanobe’s paintings which arises from the ambivalence of their impressions is based on a fundamental cultural duality: the artist, who has lived mainly in Germany for 20 years, succeeds in uniting a western defined understanding of painting which is wholly based on the painting processes (key words: monochrome, radical and colour painting) with a specific Japanese painting and material sensibility to create a very individual, quiet yet powerful visual language.

[1] Roland Barthes, Das Reich der Zeichen, Frankfurt am Main 1981, p. 36. (Engl. „Empire of Signs“)

[2] Quote from 1968 from: Dietmar Elger, Gerhard Richter, Maler, Cologne 2002, p. 70.

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