13 JUNE – 01 AUGUST 2020
The Sincere Intentions group exhibition presents the work of eight emerging artists, who have found unique artistic expressions within their own disciplines. All represent a generation of artists that engage with sensuality and handcraft while aiming to reestablish a sense of hope and optimism in the midst of a society marked by cynicism and despair. ARTIST: TIMON & MELCHIOR GRAU, TENKI HIRAMATSU, STEFAN KNAUF, KRIS LEMSALU, BRANDON LIPCHIK, NADIA PERLOV, SONJA YAKOVLEVA, JAN ZÖLLER
Timor & Melchior Grau, Tenki Hiramatsu, Stefan Knauf, Kris Lemsalu, Brandon Lipchik, Nadia Perlov, Sonja Yakovleva, Jan Zöller
13.06.2020 – 01.08.2020
In times of such ecological, political, and economic uncertainty, Robert Grunenberg’s group exhibition, Sincere Intentions, look at the ruins of postmodernity not as ominous and foreboding, but rather as an opportunity to radically reshape the world through embracing empathy, sincerity, and tenderness.
Timon & Melchior Grau (b. 1990, 1991) live and work in Berlin. Both studied at Städelschule, Frankfurt and are Meisterschüler of Willem de Rooi. Their collaborative work reflects on portraiture, the interdependence of humans and designed structures, and the intimate subject/object relationships forged through this connection.
In Sincere Intentions, Timon and Melchior Grau’s sculpture Human (2019) resembles a figurative abstraction of the body. While at first the sharp, imposing object may seem threatening, it emanates human presence and signals comfort for the visitors’ own body through its ostensibly relaxed pose. Also featured in the exhibition, their Untitled (2020) works represent a new kind of exchange, centered around visual language. Questioning what a message becomes when it is sent and received on a screen instead of in a tangible object like a letter, the series of word paintings evolved from an exploratory practice over a text message. Taking excerpts from the abrupt exchange and returning them to the physical realm as framed objects, the linguistic artifacts forge a new kind of corporeality: one where the authors are clearly absent. The reflective surfaces simulate a cold technological surface, while the impersonal messages summon viewers into an uncertain relationship.
Tenki Hiramatsu (b. 1986) was born in Wakayama, Japan. After graduating from Nihon University College of Art in Tokyo, Hirmatsu went on to undertake postgraduate study at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe, Germany where he is now based. His series of abstract paintings presented in Sincere Intentions focus on faces, nature, and the human psyche. The works rely on individual perception, allowing for speculation and the possibility of mythical creatures and inventive narratives to emerge from the artist’s own imaginative scenes. This notion is similar to how Hiramatsu approaches his practice, never having a precise plan in mind and instead allowing fictional characters to materialize on their own, often rotating the paper as he works. Using both oil and acrylic in a layered wash, the small-scale works on paper are then mounted on board. Hiramatsu’s paintings feature depictions of both Japanese folklore and western symbols from popular culture and are often playful or comical in nature while presenting a surreal landscape rife with unpredictable encounters.
Stefan Knauf’s (b. 1990, Munich) artistic practice questions Western symbols, mythological rhetoric, and material values. His masterfully crafted, technically proficient works combine structural forms and luxury materials that achieve a delicate equilibrium, while at the same time connecting ideals of art history and aesthetics. Knauf’s sculptures and wall installations featured in the exhibition form material collages, examining the stylistic and formal language of modernist and postmodernist design, interiors, and architecture. However, architecture is not the only inspiration for Knauf; the landscapes of the Bavarian countryside, as well as interiors and design objects, are all transmuted into his installations and sculptural explorations, often made of unexpected or seemingly archaic materials such as stone and bronze. Knauf’s work embodies a unique vision of spatial continuity while emphasizing the fleeting insignificance of each moment, countered by the imperishability of the work’s source materials. Through interweaving notions of eternity and transience, Knauf simultaneously subverts the fetishization of materials, myths of salvation, and our cultural understanding of time and value.
Kris Lemsalu (b. 1985) represented Estonia at last year’s Venice Biennale and was also featured in the group show Metamodernity at Robert Grunenberg in 2018. Lemsalu studied at the Estonian Academy of Arts, Tallinn; Danmarks Designskole, Copenhagen and the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. She is currently based in New York. Her unique blend of performance, ceramic sculptures, and multimedia installations push the varied materials she utilizes to unexpected, and sometimes subversive places. Having studied ceramics, Lemsalu often experiments with traditional techniques to create multilayered works. Her installations consist of delicate porcelain sculptures cast as animal and human body parts and arbitrary objects, aiming to communicate our inner state of mind and elaborate on the human condition in the modern world.
Lemsalu presents two ceramic sculptures, from the series titled Immaterial Material Love’ (2020) in Sincere Intentions, fusing representations of the animal kingdom with humankind, and the natural world with artificial symbols. The bizarre works create a strong contrast between beauty and repulsion; evoking the wild, depraved side of human beings and civilizations, while creating comical, yet sincerely empathic narratives.
Brandon Lipchik (b. 1993) is an American painter, currently based in New York. Lipchik’s work investigates the process of digital collage and painting within subjects of the male nude, queer identity, and Americana. He is often thought about in context with other contemporary painters which investigates identity between the sum of both real and digital spaces. Lipchik uses 3-D modeling software and other digital tools to reconstruct and re-stage figurative settings as a means to begin the painting process. During the process of translation between digital compositions to paintings, Lipchik emphasizes the importance of discovering new possibilities with paint as influenced by digital screens. Opposed to reproducing the flatness that the digital screen provides, Lipchik emphasizes areas of tactile and physical qualities of paint to simultaneously engage in a dialogue between the tactility of real-world experience and the flatness and immateriality of digital spaces. Lipchik’s latest series of paintings featured in Sincere Intentions, continue to reference the history of male nudes, and queer and American narratives, however, he forgoes a previously pastel-hued palette for a more sombre-tone that connotes film noir and an aura of postwar cynicism. Instead of displaying these bright colors that are easily transmitted through digital screens, Lipchik’s shift in aesthetics is emotional and sentimental, focusing on light and drama that reflects the disenchantment of our times and the collective sense of uncertainty.
Nadia Perlov (b. 1990) trained as a dancer in Tel Aviv and Rotterdam, before studying at the Bezalel Academy for Arts and Design in Jerusalem and the Städelschule Frankfurt am Main in the class of Judith Hopf until 2017. Perlov now lives and works between Frankfurt am Main, Germany, and Tel Aviv, Israel. As a young Israeli artist, her work is deeply rooted in cultural history and the languages of its production; establishing connections between Jewish history and identity, and the contemporary cultural-political discourse of decolonization. Perlov’s multidisciplinary practice examines broad historical movements, particularly with regard to migratory cultures and their complex identity in relation to the politics of defined areas.
Perlov presents her Bags & Bugs series in the exhibition, including wall installations with paper bugs encapsulated in pattern-infused, custom-made frames that function as an architectural specimen collection. Much like biological specimens, they call for contemplation and investigation, while repositioning notions of space and how architecture tends to occupy it. Also featured in Sincere Intentions, Perlov’s intricate bag sculptures act as a status symbol: covered in glamorous feathers and patterns, they flaunt their beauty in the hopes of finding a suitable mate. The works have morphed from the motionless bugs trapped in their frames on the gallery walls, spreading and folding into animated three-dimensional creatures and then covering themselves with the extravagant fabrics that once housed them. Perlov’s works are a celebration of life, while conversely exhibiting mankind’s fascination with killing and collecting creatures for observation.
Sonja Yakovleva’s (b. 1989) artistic practice questions the ideology behind the material value and social inequality, specifically with regard to the absence and visibility of women that have been excluded from patriarchally organized high culture. Located at the boundary between art and handicraft, her paper cuts of alternative realities depict female protagonists, glorious histories, uncelebrated celebrations, and female struggles. However, Yakovleva stresses that her choice of medium is considered more feminine than it should be, as in reality, it is rare that a handcraft is dominated by women. Her work is full of revealing observations of patriarchal structures and heteronormative power relations, creating images that acquire the unspeakable appeal of pleasure and in which a liberal self-conception can be felt. In Sincere Intentions, the Frankfurt-based artist invites us to once again engage in her imagined feminine retrospective. Yakoleva’s inspiration for her latest series of papercuts center around female domination, displaying a number of mischievous scenes featuring empowered dominatrix.
Jan Zöller’s (b. 1992) paintings are full of references to the failure of modernist utopia, German postwar modernity, and ultimately the collapse of turbo-capitalism. As the anarchistic birds in his art are occupying fountains, bathrooms, and saunas to co-opt them as a new place for their community, in a similar way Zöller uses the broken system of the art world in his paintings to recreate the foundation for a new utopia. Zöller presents his work ‘Badebrunnen (cold water clear windows)’ in Sincere Intentions; featuring an abstract representation of a fountain and his signature ‘anarchist’ birds. In his paintings, a fountain is a place that brings together central themes: residential architecture, abstract human figures, birds, and fire. Using these elements as a starting point, Zöller creates settings containing different protagonists in which he outlines the relationships and interdependencies between people and systems – interdependencies of emotions and social togetherness but also of economic cycles.
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