Monday, March 26, 2012

Marsha Cottrell

Marsha Cottrell is an American artist who currently has a solo exhibition at Petra Rinck Galerie in Düsseldorf.
You graduated from your Masters in 1990. Are you still exploring the same ideas you were interested in when you were studying?
When I was in school I was painting and drawing the landscape in a fairly traditional manner from life. I was also looking at odd bits of still-life material and painting them, which resulted in images that looked like they could be landscapes. Toward the end of graduate school I was inventing landscape-like images from my imagination, and the impulse to do that has continued to the present. Over years of working, and in the last fourteen with the computer, the conception of space has become more abstract, and the terrain more uncertain. 
IMPOSSIBLE NIGHT 2011, 62,4 x 97,9 cm Iron oxide on mulberry paper
Your landscapes are energetic, wild and lyrical mapped worlds and alternate universes. What does landscape mean to you?
These words are good. The first landscape images in art I connected with as a young person were da Vinci’s “deluge” drawings. I was attracted to the idea that they were not representations of actual places, but eternal/internal landscapes that might be found anywhere at any moment in time. Their energy, architecture, and intricacy—but not rigidity—always appealed to me. They seemed to present an open platform with which to interact, and I’ve always aspired for my own work operate in a similar way. I want people to be able to relate—to be able to respond on an immediate level—whether they have much experience with art or not.
There is an inherent rigidity to the platform of a home/office computer, and it naturally insists that one be deliberate and methodical. We all keep folders within folders within folders, and do things in orderly, procedural steps. The sense of energy and movement in some of the images I’m making results—in part—from my struggle to be improvisational (and physical) within a space that isn’t naturally set up for that.
Your works on paper look like intricate, obsessive and deliberate drawings. Can you tell us about your process?
I began using the computer about 14 years ago, and my interest in the subject of landscape went right along with it. With its limited environment of chair, desk, etc., the computer seemed to provide a kind of newfound freedom, despite the challenges of losing (for a time) a physical relationship with my work. My current process is a hybrid of digital and handmade. Inside the space of the computer I’m working with marks in much the same way one would with more traditional processes, except that they are manufactured and not inherently expressionistic. In the recent work, I manipulate the image outside of the computer as well, and in this way am forging a direct connection between human and machine elements.
This new body of work brings forth a different sense to that which we are familiar with. What do you feel are the main differences between the new body of work (white on black background) as opposed to your more common known black on white background?
I don’t really see them as all that different but because of the dark field, the new drawings may have some new and immediate connections for people. The night sky, for example, is dark and teeming with bright marks, so one can enter into these new drawings from the standpoint of that universal experience. The imagery in all of my work, however, is simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar. I’m still creating space with an endless array of bits and lines culled from my library of digital debris.
The primary difference for me is that I’m making the object myself now, and getting my hand back into the process in a direct and physical way. Because of that, there is now an integration of manufactured and handmade information in the drawings…so the object has the feeling of being old and new (or futuristic) at the same time. I think these qualities lend timelessness to the work and thereby invite a range of readings.
UNDER THE ILLUMINATING HYDROGEN 2012, 133 x 203,5 cm iron oxide on mulberry paper
When did you first know you wanted to be an artist?
My interest in making art has developed gradually and consistently over time so I’m unable to identify a particular moment when I decided to make it my life’s work. The first thing I ever thought I wanted to be was a dancer, and perhaps evidence of that can be felt in some of the drawings.
What are you looking forward to within the next 12 months?
Spending time with my daughter and continuing to work in the studio.
Marsha Cottrell
17 March – 5 May 2012
Ackerstrasse 199
40233 Düsseldorf

Saturday, March 24, 2012



John Stezaker
2 March – 7 April 2012

Water, waves, waterfalls and torrents feature in this new exhibition of collages by John Stezaker. Vintage publicity photographs of singers and singing groups from the 1940s and 50s are abstracted by a postcard image of water, giving old images new meaning. These works are fragmented and dislocated and explore the unknown and uncanny.

Particularly captivating was the portraiture series in which Stezaker erases the eyes of the subject by replacing them with the postcard of gushing and rolling water. Eerie and surreal, these images bring forth flashes of cavernous skulls and horror stills from films of a bygone era. 

Spanning three rooms and showing over forty works, this exhibition is a wonderful example of great collage and the practice of an important contemporary artist. A must see.

John Stezaker Siren III, 2011 Collage 23,3 x 20,8 cm Courtesy Galerie Gisela Capitain, Köln

Sören Siebel
9 - 16 March 2012
Sören Siebel’s latest exhibition at Galerie Mela Chu is a fabulous example of incorporating audience participation. In the front window of the gallery, an enormous white plastic bag comes to life as an industrial-sized fan blows it toward the sidewalk audience. As the plastic bag waves and floats, passers by stop and become transfixed by the simplicity of the installation. Watching them is magnetic; confused, self-conscious, interested and entertained – the pedestrians were anything but bored.

Unfortunately the exhibition finished this week but look out for another amusing installation by Siebel!

Monica Hansebakken – Georg Küttinger
1 March – 12 April 2012

Art Galerie 7 is holding a two-person exhibition centred on the theme of landscape. Exhibiting the paintings by Monica Hansebakken together with photographs by Georg Küttinger gives a nice sample of both realist abstracted landscape practices.

Hansebakken’s abstract and colourful paintings of mountains and ranges are like sickly sweet cones of gelato. The forms, in lollypop colours, create high peaks that sit within an aqua sky. Even more enticing are the blocks of engraved surfaces throughout the works that show the raw wooden board beneath. Floral-engraved patterns together with the candy colours brings forth feminine and bright paintings that excite the eye.

Check it out if you enjoy decorative and fun painting.

Untitled (Jirishanca 1), 62 x 62cm, 2011 Courtesy Art Galerie 7

Thursday, March 15, 2012



Three Dimensional?
Artists: Baptiste Debombourg, Irena Eden/Stijn Lernout, Robert Kunec, Kristin Leko, Damir Radovic, Claudia Marcela Robles, Jon Shelton and Tobias Sternberg
27 January – 17 March 2012

A fascinating selection of artists curated together in a dynamic group show. This exhibition is thematically centred on contemporary investigations into concrete art.

Eden & Lernout’s 2D and 3D abstract paintings reference a long tradition in minimalism and formalism. Utilising a darkened pallet, these geometric works explore form, line and surface. 
In his Aggravure series, Baptiste Debobourg creates images by physically beating industrial staples into wood. Beautiful from a distance and violent up close, the works reference and reappropriate imagery from iconic renaissance paintings. Likewise, the works by Robert Kunec use the same kind of physicality and perspective. The artist exhibits sheets of aluminium that he has struck then scribed with a number and arrow pointing to the various marks. Just as Debobourg’s works read differently with distance, so too do Kunec’s – from afar they reveal battered landscapes.

 Baptiste Debombourg, Aggravure V, Staples on wood,114 x 78 cm, 2011 courtesy: krupic kersting galerie || kuk

Three Dimensional? is a group exhibition put together to coincide with the Brussels–Cologne event earlier in the year. Luckily it’s still on until Saturday 17 March so quickly get in to see it!


Lights, Camera, Action!
Anja Kirschner & David Panos, Laurence Kavanagh and Allan Hughes
Curated by Mary Cremin
25 February – 31 March 2012

This exhibition looks into artists and artwork that adopt the cinematic process to create a psychological tension synonymous in cinema. By deconstructing and reappropriating dialogue and scenes in film and the cine-novel, these artists illustrate how reinterpretation exposes and flips the original intent. The show is exhibited in a darkened gallery to replicate the feel of a cinema and majority of the works are moving images bar the exquisite sculptures by Laurence Kavanaghs.

Kavanaghs sculptures are based on Allain Robbe-Grillet’s novel Jealousy in which the repetitive description of objects and settings create psychological strain. A pair of lonely shoes on the floor is lit in the shadows of the exhibition by a lamp that is suspended by string. The string is weaved through the ceiling and attached to a shaving cabinet on the wall with a hairbrush inside. Intimate and abandoned objects suggest an unnerving story.

The multi-channel video installation Living truthfully under imaginary circumstances by Kirschner and Panos had me transfixed. I was mesmerised and hypnotised by the intense repetition and improvised emotional responses by the actors. Based on acting techniques by Sanford Meisner, this work involves young actors reciting and repeating dialogue, which allows dialogue to leap back and forth through the artists and, in turn, the viewer’s mind. Bouncing words off each other but with different emotional responses, these interchanges are sometimes genuine, sometimes shocking and sometimes comical.

An excellent exhibition for moving-image lovers.

Nevin Aladag
City Language
23 February – 31 March 2012

Future, present and past is literally on view in the multi-channel video installation City Language, II. The installation comprises of a circle of individual monitors playing videos that capture a car review-mirror’s reflections. We can see the different places the driver has come from and is going to. Questioning the world we see versus the world we know and the memory of everyday meaning and personal history. 

City Language II Video installation with 8 monitors Videos from 2 min to 4 min each 2009  Courtesy the artist and mother's tankstation

Following on with the theme of personal history is City Language III, which features one pair of hands clapping to a beat. The pair of hands change, but the beat stays the same. Female, male, black, white, young and old – they all share the same song. 

A great chance to see the installation City Language II that first featured in the 11th Istanbul Biennale in 2009 alongside other works by Aladag.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Martha Parsey

Martha Parsey is a painter and film-maker living and working in Cologne, Germany. She currently has a solo exhibition being held at Die Kunstagentin in the Belgium Quarter, Cologne.

Your women have an intoxicating presence. They are powerful, enchanting, and feminine. Have women always been the focus of your work and what do they mean to you?

Women haven’t always been the focus of my work, in fact when I first started painting I painted almost exclusively men. But I read a quote the other day which read ‘The woman is not really a person, but an entity inhabiting spaces, commanding the gaze of those who surround her.’ And I thought about this that perhaps the women are a tool to trap the gaze of the viewer and entice their interest into the interior of the painting. I think my women have great feminine attributes that transcend the limitations of that phrase, because they not only attract the gaze of the viewer but command it, they not only inhabit the space of the picture but in a sense rule over it.

A strong sense of fashion and design are apparent in the paintings. Where does this interest come from?

From photography. Photography mimics painting, particularly fashion photography takes it’s aesthetic, framing and poses from classical painting, so I’m taking it back but in a much more abbreviated form.

You are also a filmmaker. How entwined are the two practices?

If you’re talking about ways of looking and perception, then film-making and painting are totally connected because we can’t talk about images anymore without thinking about how photography and film has completely altered our way of looking at and perceiving things visually.
But in actual practice, painting is a totally different and a much more physical and immediate process than making films. Making films is about teamwork, convincing people to give you the means to realise ideas and it has limitations because of it’s complexity and the amount of people involved that painting doesn’t have. I have an idea in painting and I can give that idea form almost instantly. I work fast, and it is an enormous pleasure to experience the image emerge and take on a life right before me. People forget when they look at painting the very physical nature of it, how physically involved you are while making it. There’s a relationship there, a struggle, and the whole process that is going on is far more unconscious, allowing room for accident. No one can allow you the freedom in film to experiment like I do with paint in the studio.

You move between London, Berlin and Cologne. Do you find the cities engage with your work differently?

Yes, definitely. In London they see the German influences, and in Berlin and Cologne, the English ones, which always really amuses me- the grass is always greener... There are things that are obviously easier for people in London to understand because of the familiarity with where I come from- the mixture of a long tradition in figurative/portrait painting with a design element from British pop art, and the titles lose some of their humour when you explain them. But Berlin has this marvellous openness, it’s a really open city that is very exciting and almost limitless, one that when I moved there opened me up completely. Cologne is where I turn this all into something real and work hard.

When did you first know you wanted to be an artist?

When I was a kid I was an actress and for a long time I was certain that’s what I wanted to do because I really enjoyed acting. I moved from acting into wanting to make films as I’d always been on set and seen how films were made. I made short films and then two documentaries about Francis Bacon and through them I got to know David Sylvester, who taught me about painting. I’d studied film and fine art so it was a natural and logical step for me to move into painting.

In 5 words describe your work:

Look at it and see...

What are you looking forward to within the next 12 months?

The summer! And completing a new series of work I’ve just embarked on which is really very exciting.

When I’m not painting I’m …

Having a laugh with my kids and enjoying life now.

Martha Parsey
'Out on a Limb' 
11 February - 15 March, 2012
Maastrichterstr. 26
Köln, Germany

Thursday, March 8, 2012



Irene Andessner + Ingolf Timpner
19 January – 31 March 2012

Utilising the traditional photography style of portraiture, photo-media artists Irene Andessner (Vienna) and Ingolf Timpner (Düsseldorf) have collaborated to produce an exhibition that explores temporal jumps and distance from the past. Central to the exhibition are a series of self-portraits that pay homage to self-portraits by Albrecht Durer from 1500, and a series of black and white baryta-paper photographs referencing portraits by Egon Schiele. By using role-play, the Polaroid and through crossing periods in time, the artists search and expose the delicate internal human condition.
Particularly interesting was the ‘newest form of the polaroid’ (as explained by the gallery director). In a large-scale format with sepia tones, these images were printed instantly when captured with what seemed like highly viscose ink, giving the work a painterly quality.

A curious exhibition for photography and portraiture fans alike.

Installation view (detail) of the exhibition "Irene Andessner + Ingolf Timpner. Collaborations"
Foto and Copyright: Dirk Rose / IKS-Medienarchiv 2012
courtesy Galerie Bugdahn und Kaimer

Katja Eckert, Freya Hattenberger, Sven Johne, Alicja Kwade, Cathleen Schuster, Sibylle Springer and Eva Teppe
‘Karl Schmidt-Rottluff Stipendium’
4 February – 9 April 2012

The biennial Karl Schmidt-Rottluff Stipendium exhibition held at the Kunsthalle Dusseldorf is a showcase of fresh and important young artists working today. This year’s selection of artists (stipend holders from 2008–2010) displayed a wide array of subject matter and mediums. The selection of works was contemplative, engaging and moving.
‘Third Hand Smoke’ by Katja Ekert’s is a playful video that features a swarm of tiny flies buzzing over several still images of a hand in action. The contrast of the still-hand and franticly moving flies brings forth a sense of physical uncomfortableness contrasted with humour.

Freya Hattenberger’s photographic diptych ‘Facing the World’ features almost identical self-portraits hanging side-by-side, with the subject’s eyes open in one and closed in the other. Questioning the artist’s presence in the artwork and, furthermore, in contemporary society, this work really leaves the viewer questioning.
Continuing on the investigation into social awareness were the intriguing quasi-archival photographs of Sven Johne entitled ‘Winter Archive’. Numerous small-scale photographs telling the story of northern-European winters over many years hang in a giant grid. Some beautiful and light, some alarming and shady, each photograph was taken in a different year and with a completely different subject matter. 

Don’t be in a hurry with this exhibition; the sensitive and lyrical works deserve time.


Kathrin Ahlt
28 January – March 30 2012

Beautiful, eerie, mysterious and romantic, this photographic exhibition by Kathrin Ahlt is a real showstopper. Highly saturated images of street and landscapes were taken at night with a soft-focus effect creating a film-noir feel. Large portions of darkness are lit by romantic street lamps and blurred headlights in the distance. Never a figure in sight but with shadows lurking, these photographs explore the familiar and the unfamiliar, memory and timelessness. This series was shot in Sweden and Moscow, the vast landscapes and alpine peaks alongside empty residential streets create a strong sense of place.

An enchanting exhibition recommended for all.

Kathrin Ahlt, »Mahr OgPa«, 2012, 140 x 100 cm, C-Print hinter Acrylglas / c-print behind plexiglass, Auflage von / edition of 5 + 2

Koen van den Broek, Walter Dahn, Fränze Hoppe, Anne K.E., David Ostrowski, Yelena Popova, Ulrich Rückriem and Ignacio Uriate
‘Unterm Strich. Abstract Works on Paper’
3 March – April 4 2012

This group exhibition of works on paper brings together eight artists exploring the medium in differing ways. Particularly of interest was David Ostowski’s ‘H’ which blurs the lines between the representational and non-representational. The photographic portrait looks as if the artist has spray painted a block of white over the subject’s face. By blocking out three quarters of the photograph the artist has erased the identity, obscured the image and abstracted the reading of a traditional portrait. Ignacio Uriarte’s scrawls on paper are obsessively rendered scribbles that create a wonderfully minimalist work. These routine-driven drawings were originally born from the artist stating that the everyday act of scribbling onto a notepad during a telephone conversation, or ripping off a page from notebook, become works of art.

Always partial to a works on paper show – this exhibition won’t let you down.

 Ignacio Uriarte 'Vier Monochrome' 2010
pencil on paper 42 x 29,7 cm each