Museum exhibition

Hoi Köln, Teil 3: Albtraum Malerei

Dominik Sittig
Kölnische Kunstverein, Cologne, Germany
3 February - 24 March 2024

Marie Angeletti, Monika Baer, BLESS, Vittorio Brodmann, Jakob Buchner, Milena Büsch, Merlin Carpenter, Matthias Groebel, Fischli Weiss, Hansi Fuchs, Sophie Gogl, Hamishi Farah, Jacqueline Humphries, Dozie Kanu, Nora Kapfer, Morag Keil, Emil Michael Klein, Maggie Lee, Lorenza Longhi, Alan Michael, Kaspar Müller, Vera Palme, Gunter Reski, Jean-Frédéric Schnyder, Dennis Scholl, Nolan Simon, Dominik Sittig, Lucie Stahl, Megan Francis Sullivan, Alfred d’Ursel, Amelie von Wulffen, Jie Xu, Barbara Zenner, Damon Zucconi

Faced with this rectangular void, anything could happen. The horizon of possibilities seems open. At any moment, an idea could flicker into my consciousness, and I’d be able to get it all on the canvas. Still better, perhaps, the brush could just start moving and the painting, sleepwalker-like, paint itself without me. The void gleams auspiciously; but never for long. Whatever image I may have had in my mind’s eye, it is wrecked by the first brushstroke. Its utter fatuousness is exposed. And every additional brushstroke just makes it worse. If one seems weak, the next, which was supposed to strengthen it, has come straight out of the repertoire of cheap effects. This merry-go-round of recycled gimmicks revolves with a deadening regularity. What’s left for you to do when the dice were all cast in the last century? Hum and ha, paint small paintings, paint huge paintings, dive into abstraction and the morass of ambition, revive formalism, figuration, raise tornados of pigment, embrace minimalism, flirt with technology. Subjects and points of reference change, but their form stays stuck to the ground, as if it were covered with some repulsive, viscous liquid. Trembling, the emoji in oil tries to pull itself out of the morass, drawing long strands behind itself like chewing gum. Brushstrokes as identity crises, with filaments trailing from their lips like burst bubbles of gum.

Who’d want to tell anyone about their visit to the therapist? And who’d want to hear about it? No one. Painting, a nightmare without end, saturated by the ghosts of history, is beyond any therapeutic help. On the couch, a thousand hamsters scurry inside their wheels. And yet there are people painting today as if it were the easiest thing in the world. Or should that be the hardest? Quite a few painters like giving themselves a hard time. This seems to be less a question of taste than it is an art of action or character. Many might call them masochists. But isn’t masochism often also about being able to control what is demanded of you, about empowering yourself as a subject who determines what others can do to you? Hit me, but only when I order you to. For Gilles Deleuze, the brush would be the fetish that lends reality wings. Do people paint in order to leave behind the ineluctable and take flight like a bird? When all is said and done, and this situation has been analysed a hundred times, there is, in a sense, nothing left to lose. Every painting can become a cipher which mutates into the eye of the needle leading to what currently seems impossible. Nightmares are not only tragic and frightening, they are also precisely life with all its anxieties, from which we awake bathed in sweat. I have nightmares about lots of things, not least places I’d like to visit but don’t dare. Those things that we often now call crises, which seem to be present in every moment of our lives, are also opportunities. This exhibition brings together a whole fleet of suggestions.

Curated by Valérie Knoll

For more information please visit Kölnische Kunstverein.

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