W.O.P. is a group exhibition bringing together a selection of works on paper by various artists of Klemm’s program. Though predominantly known for their works spanning painting, sculpture, photography and installation, the exhibited artists approach paper as a means to expand the visual and conceptual investigation of their employed medium, along with the discussion connected to it.
Therefore, the exhibited works on paper can be seen as separate and immediate extensions of a broader repertoire, resulting in a form that is dense and confrontational while expressed with earnest simplicity. These gestures are at times urgent and explorative or meditative and repetitive at others, all revealing something progressively instinctive and intimate within the artists’ greater oeuvre.
In their works, Thomas Arnolds, Keltie Ferris, Fiona Mackay and Renaud Regnery constantly re-explore the possibilities and conditions of painting.
Thomas Arnolds has created a set of instruments that are as precise as they can be used variably, a ‘free set of rules’ with which he pushes his oeuvre forward as a radical proposal on painting. Based on an initial, conceptual outlining, what has already been introduced is mixed up in the process and is confronted with new technology or changed painterly access. His work on paper can be seen in this context not as rough outline of his paintings but as autonomous extension of his work, related to his willingness to challenge himself, to experiment and push painting to its limits.
Multilayered, and informed by spheres outside the classical realm of painting, referencing sculpture, media, and even performance, Keltie Ferris’s works are deliberately hybrid in nature. The drawing Fauna has to be understood within this ‘open’ context. The work lifts its status of drawing from something preparatory to artwork in its own right, capturing the chaotic abstract nature characteristic of Ferris’ paintings with the factual and linear simplicity of graphite on paper.
Fiona Mackay’s fluid, colour thirsty paintings comprise a visual lexicon of dense patterns, organic materials, bodies and animals. Mackay’s works exhibited in the context of W.O.P. are part of her Dreams series. They showcase a glimpse into the painter’s world of ‘hallucinatory imagery’, manifested as paintings on paper. Like reoccurring gestures, motifs and colours repeated throughout her works. The everydayness of paper as a supporting material is tied to the world of tactile reality, while its fragility and lightness – an innate quality of paper – is symbiotic to the sublime, whimsical world of dreams.
In his works, Renaud Regnery makes use of paper as ‘subject matter’ sourced from mass-production contexts. Regnery’s Oil Paper Paintings appear at first sight as formal constructions based on classical minimal abstraction fundamentals and grid principles. However, the works are made with wax paper, usually used as packaging for food or industrial products. The material is folded, unfolded and layered on canvas, generating delicate patterns that link the visual surface with the omnipresent aestheticisation of realms of our lives. The Studies on squared paper are sketches created with charcoal on altered reproductions of chequered paper. They are approaches to spatial constructions, acting as imperfect fragments of a geometric language.
Gwenneth Boelens, Falk Haberkorn and Marijn van Kreij engage in their works with a multifaceted reading and understanding of their employed media. The fil rouge that intertwines the formal and conceptual diversity of their works lies in a less intuitive, rather ‘meditative’ approach. Paper is utilised as a universal means of transmitting meaning through the reiteration of gestures and concepts, examining the borders between image and language, archetype and copy, thought and time.
In most of Haberkorn’s works, the tabula rasa of an untouched surface is ideally overdrawn by an indestructible trace of script. Passages and quotations of literary and humanistic texts are so intertwined and interwoven that – according to the principle of montage, alliance and association – a mental reference space opens up that appears to be infinitely expandable. In Il faut être absolument moderne Falk Haberkorn sums up modern times through the obsessive repetition of Arthur Rimbaud’s imperative on paper, in an endless loop.
Gwenneth Boelens’ work is concerned with touch, thought and capturing time. Courier can be described as an ‘open’ work, initiated by the artist in 2017 and adapted to current times for W.O.P.. Global newspapers were collected and mailed from different localities. The synchrony (or a-synchrony) of time, events and information is twisted into piercing spear- or antenna-like shapes, arcing over inoperative seats. The work focuses on how both we and things move, circulate and distribute – in travelling the land, moving the body and mind, or in the movement communication elicits – along with the blockages that result from that movement.
In Marijn van Kreij’s oeuvre, consisting of drawings, paintings, collages, videos and installations, the process of duplication plays a key role. Untitled (Picasso, The Studio, 1955) belongs to a series of monumental paintings on paper, the so called Picasso Grids, in which the artist carefully chooses details from late paintings of Picasso to serve as a point of departure. Van Kreij copies the fragments meticulously and arranges them into a single repetitive pattern of stacked horizontal rows. The details remain the same and yet are different every time. This conveys a sense of repetition that falls somewhere between obsession and meditation.
The selected works by Elizabeth Jaeger and Alexej Meschtschanow engage with the physical and aesthetic qualities of established social conventions with an analytic and compassionate eye.
Elizabeth Jaeger’s works have a psychological dimension: they are both physical objects and at the same time vessels for the ‘soul’ and the world of thoughts. Jaeger’s Denudes is a unique body of works on paper made by the artist between 2016 and 2017. The drawings are altered reproductions of reclining nudes and Odalisques throughout Western Art History. Each has been reduced by the artist to its ubiquitous form: the horizontal curvaceous female torso. Erased through thick pencil strokes, their truncated torsos emphasise the tradition of objectifying the female body while invoking the subjects’ lost spirits and veiled identities.
Alexej Meschtschanow’s works play on the consequences of miserable socio-political transparency. Semester-ABC is a sculptural work presented in the exhibition context of W.O.P. for the intimate meaning it carries for the artist. Meschtschanow’s idiosyncratic welded tubular steel connects and fastens books that have had a great influence on the artist. The books here are compressed, carrying a self-supporting element rather conceived as a means of functional ennoblement than as additional burden imposed on them. The mechanical mountings applied by Meschtschanow take the books out of their original realm and elevate them to art objects – hence saving them by the ravages of time.
Overall, the artists’ approach towards the medium reflects a profound understanding of its possibilities, consistently challenging the freedom paper provides. In this group show setting, the works are intertwined in a visual dialogue between different corners of the gallery, coexisting as careful outcome of a critical looking, thinking and feeling process. They lead to a myriad of possibilities not only of ‘image-making’ but of ‘concept-making’ – achieving a strong, emotional impact with limited means.