vr 20.01 - za 04.03.2017
DARK GROUND, krupic kersting’s start into 2017, features five young yet established positions. The show focuses on different aspects of the mysterious in contemporary art.
Inspired by Jean Moréas’ 1886 “Symbolist Manifesto,” which declared an art whose pure idea is to “never directly express its intention,” DARK GROUND aims to transfer this idea into a timely contemporary statement.
As a movement, Symbolism defined the turn of the nineteenth century alongside Art Nouveau. This show seeks to translate the dark side of its sublimity into contemporary artistic production, and features works by Eckart Hahn, Quinten Ingelaere, Tessa Knapp, Lieven Lefere, and Jon Shelton.
Dealing with hallucinatory images that play tricks with observers’ perceptions, the show explores and presents its central theme by uniting different artistic expressions and techniques. Yet the symbolist’s endeavor toward an encrypted image is no longer the key objective.
In Eckart Hahn’s hyper-realistic paintings, color underlines and separates allegorically charged motives such as snakes, ravens, and antique columns, to name but a few. Hahn explores new avenues of experimentation with color and light. For instance, backlighting allows the eye to discover the image in its nowness, but also triggers a decelerating of the gaze by virtue of the contrasts it creates. This, according to Hahn, is where the link between pure image and imagination lies. In combining these techniques with the sublime subject matter and aesthetics associated with Symbolism, Hahn’s work serves as a subtle frame for DARK GROUND.
Quinten Ingelaere does not employ symbolistic vocabulary, instead he uses black backgrounds to transform his paintings into dark and confusing visions. The Belgian painter’s images linger between surrealistic dreams and Dada – between the abstract and the figurative. His paintings display a mastery of classical techniques such as trompe l’oeil, while simultaneously creating a dark and ominous atmosphere. Ingelaere undermines common visual habits by sending the observer on a fruitless quest for clearly defined information and messages.
For Detroit born artist Jon Shelton, the use of early Renaissance glazing techniques provides an unexpected vantage point from which to look at today’s digital pictorial worlds, and thus into the chasm between virtual perception and reality.* Shelton has created two new works for DARK GROUND, both of which have historical connotations. In the first, a man with piercing eyes appears before a dark background, subtly referencing Hans Baldung Grien’s iconic “Saturn.” Shelton’s second canvas intensifies the impression of mysterious situations, recalling the dead body in the park in Michelangelo Antonioni’s film “Blow Up.” The miniature figure, placed within the vastness of the canvas, evokes a sense of fragile disappearance in the depths of the imagination.
Shelton’s dead figure in the void is reflected in DARK GROUND by a noteworthy photographic position. Belgian artist Lieven Lefere takes the idea of shooting to a most sinister level. Lefere produces perfectly staged images of ivory bowls contrasted against a background as dark as the night. These bowls immediately spur the viewer’s investigative curiosity. They seem to hold a secret. Is the destruction of their material caused by a bullet? The works are, in the end, about the search for deeper meaning – an ambitious quest for a resolution of the unconscious. Lefere himself travels to numerous research facilities across Europe continuously seeking inspirational moments and places with which to recreate the unimaginable.
A video still by Tessa Knapp completes the exhibition’s circuit in a contemplative manner. “No Void” – based on her video of the same title – creates an illusory cosmos of billowing clouds of fog. No Void, no emptiness. A shifting, nebulous, space-consuming cloud fills the darkness, suggesting associations with both the depths of the sea and the endlessness of the universe – and from which imaginary characters appear. The nebulous cloud itself becomes the protagonist.**
The fog and darkness of Tessa Knapp’s “No Void” put a spell on the viewer, but do not feign mysterious interpretations nor the promise of insight or discovery – thus, they also become a fitting parentheses for all of the works presented in DARK GROUND.
*Anabel Runge **Kristina Engels