CURRENT EXHIBITION, thru 31/01/2024

The motif of the garden with its immense variety of forms and colors is present in the visual arts of all cultures and at all times. A recurring motif in the iconology of modern art is the Marian garden – the hortus conclusus as a protected space and place of contemplation. In contrast to the landscape, the garden describes a limited section of nature designed by man. In the Western art of the 20th century, the gardens of Claude Monet in Giverny and of Max Liebermann in Berlin at Wannsee are the most famous. To this day, the garden serves as a source of inspiration and retreat for many

Following this, herman de vries, born in Alkmaar in 1931, created “sanctuaries,” protected and inaccessible enclosed areas where nature was to unfold free from human intervention, at various locations in the urban space. After his time as an artist in the Dutch “Zero” movement, de vries decided to use only plants, soils, and collected artifacts as artistic material and declared his habitat, the Steigerwald, his studio. Examples of his collections will be on display in the exhibition.

The Australian artist ROSEMARY LAING, born in Brisbane in 1959, addresses the (mis)relationship of the white population to the Aborigines and their land, which the settlers have taken possession of and thus sensitively disturbs the “songlines,” the cultural routes of the aborigines that have crisscrossed Australia for thousands of years. Her medium for this are photographs staged in the landscape. In the exhibition we show works from her series “groundspeed”, for which Laing, in consultation with the local Aboriginal communities, covers large areas of primeval forest floor with industrially manufactured carpeting, whose floral motifs correspond to typical English carpets of the 19th century. They blend seamlessly into the environment – as surreal as they are out of place. After the shoot, the elements are removed without a trace for their intrusion into the environment.

LUZIA SIMONS, born in 1953, a Brazilian living in Berlin, is a pioneer in the development of the scanogram. She arranges flowers and leaves on a high-resolution scanner, creating impressive works of intense color brilliance and tremendous sharpness. The splendor of equatorial forests, the lush vegetation of Brazil, and the cultural implications of plant genera and flowers make up Luzia Simons’ visual world. Unlike most still-life artists of our time, LUZIA SIMONS also makes a social, cultural-historical claim: the pictorial memories – this is how one must interpret the works from the series “Stockage” – collect information about specific plants that function as ambassadors in the “transfer through the different cultures,” according to LUZIA SIMONS’ understanding.

MALICK SIDIBÉ, 1936-2016, was a Malian photographic artist, one of the most important contemporary photographers in Africa. In 2007, he received the “Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement” at the 52nd Venice Biennale. He took his first portrait in 1954 under the guidance of Malian photographer Baru Koné, who taught him image composition. Sidibé however, saw himself neither as a chronicler of a changing Mali nor as an artist. He was a self-employed photographer and had to make a living from his work: “I photographed my clients in such a way that they were satisfied with their picture.” And that’s how the “portrait with my flowers” in the exhibition came about. Instead of typical status symbols of these days, the sitter has chosen flowers as her attribute.

The small-format paintings and water colours by JÖRG KRATZ (*1987, Düsseldorf) are like windows into undiscovered, mystical landscapes. In creating the motifs, the artist draws on a variety of sources. His landscapes are an amalgam of reality, fantasy and the pictorial repertoire of painting history. His works can remind one of Arcadia or the landscapes of Dutch old masters, allowing us small glimpses of wondrous natural places removed from time.

The plant world of MEVLANA LIPP, born in Cologne in 1989, seems in its highly artificiality to have sprung from an extraterrestrial magical garden. In their ornamental world of forms and because of the haptic surface, the pictures take on a strongly objectlike character.

GABRIELA OBERKOFLER, born 1975 in Bolzano, lives in Stuttgart and in South Tyrol. The starting point and center of GABRIELE OBERKOFLER’S artistic work is nature in the Anthropocene. In various media and projects she deals with our relationship to nature, its utilization by humans and the formation of cultural spaces. Her intricate, detailed drawings analyze and reflect the sensitive interrelationships of ecosystems in vibrant colors. Even in their depiction of the disproportion in the network of relationships between humans, animals and plants, her works do not culminate in a dystopian mood, but convey a fascination for the growth and survival strategies in nature and search for forward-looking approaches and possible solutions. In 2022 she opened the Taberhof in Flaas in South Tyrol as an institute for alternative agriculture, contemporary art and life in the periphery.

The flowers in the two exhibited paintings from MEDIA ESFARJANI’S group of works “Tired Flowers from Monday to Friday” are of highly earthly origin. They each show a bouquet of cut flowers whose shelf life is short and obviously does not even reach the weekend. In a humorous way, she thus picks up on the flower paintings with vanitas symbolism, which had its peak in the flower still lifes of the Baroque period, and succinctly names the works with the day of the week of their “demise.” One wants to think directly of On Kawara´s “date paintings”, which have the date of the respective day as their motif. (Media Esfarjani, born 1995 in Wiesbaden and is currently still studying at the UdK in Berlin).

In GUY YANAI’S group of works “Plant in German Office,” the plant world of a garden is reduced to the pure furnishing of the interior. This becomes particularly clear in the exhibited painting “Plant in German Office II” with a single almost leafless potted plant as the decal of nature in strictly regulated brushwork and artificial coloring on a gray background.

In his series of “Cyanotypes,” ALAN BUTLER, who in his multimedia works repeatedly explores the relationship between analog and digital image production, uses representations of plants from computer games, which in turn were taken from real nature, and reproduces them in an old “pre-digital” reproduction technique for plants that was very popular in the 19th century, the technique of cyanotopy. For this, plants were laid out on chemically prepared paper, pressed on with a disc, and exposed to the sun. Analogously, Butler uses transparencies of the digital plant motifs. The result is white, slightly blurred motifs on the typical blue like 19th century. As viewers, we search irritated for the origin of the image motifs

The lithograph “As Above, So Below”, published on the occasion of her exhibition “Her Home” at Museum Haus Esters; Krefeld 2008, documents KIKI SMITH’S long-term preoccupation with flowers.

herman de vries
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