Archive for May, 2009

Cornelia Renz


One problem with the research on dreams is that one cannot observe a dream directly. To learn how or what a sleeper dreams, he has to be awaken from his sleep and questioned about it. Cornelia Renz’ large dimension acrylic paintings may just be giving us an insight into that question of the representability of dreams.

In her works, Renz has been addressing those very subjects which Surrealism and cinema are also obsessed with, namely the unconscious, the pleasure principle, the expressive power of the symbol and of dreams, castration, anxiety, and the death drive. All this Renz conjures up in her depiction of fantastic worlds, fairy-tales, and masquerades―and not without humour. In these prolific worlds nothing is as it seems, the general order of things has been suspended and the conventional social and moral principles are disturbingly broken. Her images give us an odd feeling, making us think how castrating the structures of our real world actually are. Thus, Cornelia Renz’ fantastic worlds seem to hold a promise of liberation. By linking the grotesque and the divine, death and humor, violence and eroticism she shows the mechanisms of desire in action.
It all seems to move around dreams and the unconscious, puberty, identity, gender roles, subliminal violence and power games. Renz’ young women actively negotiate and consciously manipulate power to their advantage if they get a chance to. However, to interpret Renz’ works as transgression per se would be to fail the real subject matter of her work, namely how the joy of life and the mystery of death coexist altogether.

In Cornelia Renz’ compositions line and colour are the supreme elements. Each composition is made of thousands of lines. Her figures no longer hold to the ground. All former rules, like perspective and logical shadowing, have been abolished. Instead, these have been replaced by vectors of directions. The composition is commanded mostly by ideas of top and bottom or left and right in some cases.
In many of her works Cornelia Renz adopts an aerial viewpoint in order to give us the feeling that we are optically and aerially moving around the work. This is enhanced in two ways. First of all through the transparency of the acrylic glass she uses for her pieces and secondly due to the fact that in many of her compositions a moral debate or some kind of struggle between top and bottom is taking place. Once linear perspective and traditional notions of space are abolished, things like the distinction between figure and ground, superposition, dramatic colour contrast and flatness become extremely important for the kind of work being done here.
Cornelia Renz is exploring an essential set of conventions―line, figure, scale―which not only directly derives from the technique she employs but represents a conscious positioning within the tradition of painting. Her rejection of Renaissance Italian perspective in favour of older modes of representation which takes us as far as the Middle Ages, results in a graphic immediacy which at first glance might not seem so natural and spontaneous but instead brings forth a certain quality of the gesture. Her choice means the replacement of the visual for the tactile, the abandonment of the optics for the haptics.

Based on the principle of the collage, Cornelia Renz shamelessly samples and mixes references which range from pop culture to historical engraving, mythology, and comics re-interpreting them in a very personal way. Each painting offers itself for decodification. There is a very particular Renz’ iconography which includes, among others, Lolitas, horses, nurses and skeletons. Childhood and puberty for instance represent interesting moments for the artist because the first is almost pre-societal, and the latter is a brief moment just before the loss of innocence. Both escape, even if briefly, society’s control and customization.

Cornelia Renz’ specific interest in these moments of ”out of control“―the same way a dream represents a moment which escapes control, and the same way an image is as deceitful as a dream―influences intrinsically the way things are represented. In most compositions there is a horror vacui which could be said to derive directly from the wish to tell a story. Since Renz’ stories are full of tension and include unpredictable elements which could suddenly intervene and change the sequence of events at any time, her scenes are often organized in a spiral manner. This can be seen in such works as ”Skyrider“, ”Subrosa“, ”Wendy“, and ”Forever”.

In Renz’ images different tension points and situations compete for our attention. Sometimes the image is organized as a kind of poster or a medieval illumination, with space being organized by the use of banners or medallions as in ”Love“, ”Forever“, and ”Love Rules”.
Cornelia Renz seems to be thinking in terms of physicality, for her paintings are very dense considering imagery, tactility, and terms of representation but deceitfully fragile through her choice of material. The material mainly used by Cornelia Renz ―acrylic glass―has the specific and remarkable quality of transparency. This condition necessarily brings forth issues like the incidental, the transitory, the peripheral, the metaphor of the mirror and self-reflection. Not lacking in paradox it also holds the painting in a contradictory situation in which opposite poles meet: between being a massive, extremely heavy object, and at the same time possessing an evanescent body, from solid object to vaporous air.

Since the articulation between materiality, representation and imagery is extremely sophisticated and loaded, Cornelia Renz’ paintings with their physical properties, their gesture’s authenticity and literary density show great emotional power. More important than to ask what they are about, is the understanding of how these different vectors engage in a psychic and energetic build-up, and which construct a universe of their own.

Cornelia Renz’ rich imagery represents thus a second order of reality, which in a way gives us a blink into reality itself, for it is full of painful, dark and strange things, which we must deal with all the time. Here pure horror is always represented in an aesthetic way, contributing for a sense of estrangement as we are left alone with what to do with the image. These paintings might just as well represent a liberating break or a catharsis with all things strange in our daily lives. Liliana Rodrigues

Born in 1966 in Kaufbeuren/Bavaria (DE), Cornelia Renz studied at the Academy of Visual Arts at Leipzig (“Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst“). Currently living and working in Berlin, she has been awarded with the “Marion Ermer Prize” (2001) and the “Förderpreis Bildende Kunst” of the Schering Foundation (2005). Recent shows have included a solo presentation at Galerie Anita Beckers in Frankfurt (2007), Goff + Rosenthal in New York in 2006 and the group exhibition XV. Rohkunstbau “Drei Farben – Rot” at Villa Kellermann in Berlin in 2008. Cornelia Renz is represented in many private and public collections in Germany, the United Kingdom, the USA, Brazil and Japan.

May 31, 2009 at 5:18 pm Leave a comment




May 30, 2009 at 8:55 pm Leave a comment


May 29, 2009 at 9:04 pm Leave a comment

Barcelona – Mercadillo


May 27, 2009 at 5:14 pm Leave a comment

Chicago Pics

May 14, 2009 at 12:15 am 1 comment

Kota Ezawa


Somewhere in the crossroad between popular culture, political action and art, Kota Ezawa’s vibrantly coloured, stylized and flat images have been compared by many to a Warhol silkscreen or a South Park cartoon.

Addressing a range of subjects from contemporary culture to the history of art and presenting a variety of formal strategies like abstraction and representation, Kota Ezawa patiently builds his works manually, frame by frame, as a sort of digital approximation of paper-cutout animation.
Instead of filtering his source images through software technology making them look like animations, Kota Ezawa reconstructs them using drawing software. The result is a synthetic representation with a restricted number of colours and barely any details, as “Photo Secession” (based on a known photograph from Alfred Stieglitz) testifies.

“Brawl” (2008), a four-minute-animation-film, follows this information reduction strategy which has become Ezawa’s trademark. Based on a You Tube video showing an infamous 2004 brawl which resulted in the suspension of 9 NBA players, the film emphasizes the artist’s subliminal interest on space issues generated by the transposition of images generated in other medium into the specific language of the animation format.
“Lyam 3 D” (2008), a silent animation based on the seminal Resnais’ film “L’Année dernière à Marienbad”, takes up the challenge of translating the greatness of cinematography language into a camera less technique like animation. Focusing exclusively on the original shots in which the actors remained almost motionless, “Lyam 3D” ends up achieving an intense and unexpected architectural feeling.

Mostly inspired by news of events which have become memorable to all of us, like the “Riefenstahl” and “Schleyer” works, Ezawa seem to stress how the remembrance of the past has become inseparable from our mediated streaming images – from television, newspapers and cinema. Indeed, Ezawa’s stylistic method underlies how the articulation between memory and media is a relatively new and yet undeniable one, sometimes going so far as revealing how the way we generally remember or interpret events is decisively influenced by the media in which they were recorded.
The artist is thus exploring the way we use History and navigate its constructions. “Rocket Test” (2006) for instance, is based on the slide which Colin Powell presented to the UN Security to prove that Saddam Hussein produced weapons of mass destruction. Interestingly, it just happens to be one of his most abstract works.

Describing his own practice as a form of “video archaeology”, Ezawa’s focus on media imagery has a certain liberation feeling to it. Ultimately, Kota Ezawa`s laboriously technique is questioning how – in a media charged culture – historical images prevail in our collective memory making us wonder about its various levels of recognizability and fictionality.

Born in 1969 in Cologne, Kota Ezawa studied at the Düsseldorf Kunstakademie, San Francisco Art Institute and Stanford University, and lives and works in San Francisco. His work has been hosted in such venues as the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, New York, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Art Institute of Chicago. He has had solo exhibitions at the St. Louis Art Museum; Hayward Gallery, London; ArtPace, San Antonio; Santa Monica Museum of Art; Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford; and Charles H. Scott Gallery, Vancouver.

May 13, 2009 at 5:08 pm Leave a comment

Re.Act – performancekunst der 1960er und 70er jahre heute

Yoko Ono, Cut-piece performance, 1965

Curated by Bettina Knaup and Beatrice E. Stammer “Re.Act – performance art from the 60s and 70s today” could be seen from December 13th 2008 through February 8th 2009 at the Akademie der Künste in Berlin.

Documenting performative works from 24 artists spanning across two generations, the exhibition intended to document and reflect the diversity and complexity of feminist performative strategies which appeared within a wide range of social and political contexts. Including works by performance movements from Eastern and South Eastern Europe as well as the former GDR, the exhibition documented many artistic and socially critical strategies of the 1960s, 70s through today.
In the intersection between art and life, private and public, performance offered the ideal medium for examining, deconstructing or reinventing female identity back then, in this way forcing a certain reevaluation of the attributions of femininity in mainstream culture.

Among my favourite performers are Yoko Ono (J/USA) whose performance “Cut Piece” both in its historical and re-staged 2003 version could be seen, Valie Export, Ewa Partum and the younger Kate Gilmore (USA) with her strong sometimes mocking performances.

Without intending to be an historical survey but simply present historical positions together with more recent ones, establishing relations between both generations was really the goal. Moreover the exhibition intended to show women artists working today that what they are doing is more related to their predecessor’s achievements than they are ready to admit, sometimes out of blunt ignorance. What the exhibition failed to show however, is why today’s performers seem not to be interested in political strident, ideologically didactic but instead choose to mock certain gestures of the past and mostly transmit a certain sense of an impossibility of change or uneffectiveness of certain actions, thus undermining any possibility for idealism. Today’s disbelieve and sense of impotency or frustration remains to be understood and represents the most urgent question.

May 12, 2009 at 7:08 am Leave a comment

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