Patrick Heide Contemporary Art is pleased to present seven of its close acquaintances (Gute Bekannte) in this year’s summer show with the same title. Some of them, such as Peter Matthews and Johannes von Stumm are old gallery friends, others we have known for a while through studio visits, colleagues or art fairs and we are glad to present them in our program with this joint exhibition.
All seven artists take us on their very own explorations of the world, which surrounds us. Emerging from entirely different backgrounds and working in a range of diverse media, they are nonetheless united through common interests and themes such as nature and landscape, light and shadow, and the tensions between unity and fragmentation.
Peter Matthews, who is presented in the downstairs gallery together with Irina Magurean, Alice Quaresma and Johannes von Stumm deals most impressively with the monumentality and power of nature. He creates delicately cryptic and intuitive drawings and markings by immersing in the ocean and allowing nature to become part of the painting and drawing process. The impressive large-scale painting After the rain (2017/18) was produced after a four-month period of time painting in and along the Pacific Coast of Chile, along the Atacama Desert, and then sewed together with paintings on canvas made along the Atlantic Coast of England in an Indian summer in late 2017. The painting is presented alongside a film, which gives an insight in the making of this series.
If Peter Matthews’ drawings and paintings are a blueprint of our aquatic worlds, then Irina Magurean’s works might be read as an expression of her very personal, inner view of our surroundings. Her blurred polaroid hover somewhere between abstract formalism and something personal, if not romantic. Picturing only glimpses of natural landscapes, architectural details or plays of lights and shadows, her images can never be fully decoded and remain an intimate reflection that opens up to endless interpretation.
Magurean is part of a group of talented artists from Cluj, Romania; one of the most thriving art scenes in Eastern Europe. However, unlike many of her colleagues, she doesn’t work in the prevailing medium painting but is more interested in print and photography, at the same time playing with these media by subverting the classical genres into something new.
Alice Quaresma again, is an artist the gallery has been connected with for quite a while and - just like Irina Magurean - comes from a photography background but expands the medium by combining it with drawing and collage. The artist uses acrylic paint, paper, tape and pencil over photo prints that allow her photographs to be sensorial and playful. Gute Bekannte presents works from her My corner in the world series, which deal with the idea of displacement and identity. Using images from her personal photo archive, Quaresma’s beautifully processed photographs show architectural details, fragments of urban areas or deserted landscapes. Along Quaresma’s presentation in the show, she will also be added to the gallery’s Breeder section, which showcases young artists and talents we have worked with in the past and in whose future we strongly believe.
Johannes von Stumm marks the fourth position in the group of artists presented in the downstairs gallery. Combining iron, granite, glass and sometimes wood in playful intertwining, von Stumm strikes a deliberate balance between these elements, condensed to a microcosmic essence of the natural world around us. The carefully entangled structures evoke sensations of nature and landscape, but do likewise express the taming of nature through human intervention. The results are beautiful, abstract pieces that facilitate a fascinating balance between the strong and the fragile, the solid and the liquid, the dark and the transparent.
The central themes run through the upstairs gallery, where Amy Hilton is showing her paintings of semi-precious stones. The intensely colourful, abstract watercolours on paper with titles such as Olivine (2018), Lapis Lazuli (2018) and Auralite 23 (2018) refer to the stones and minerals, which served as their models. However abstracted in their formal reproduction, they still maintain the organic, vibrant substance and are the artist’s attempt to transpose the nature of her own vision of the world onto an artistic plane. Aware of the contemporary tendency to create abstractions of separate objects, her work highlights the relationship (and more, the interrelationship) between these separate parts and the whole. As Hilton states, she is “particularly interested in evoking that as individuals and societies, we are all ultimately dependent upon the cyclical processes of nature”.
Returning once more to the title of the show Gute Bekannte with the double meaning in German that the presented artists are not only close acquaintances but also well-known artists, this playful twist further refers to the works by Martin Assig. In his drawings he translates his own handwriting into colourful, abstract lines, forms and patterns, bodies and objects. The almost naïve style combines word plays, catchphrases and simple forms to create intimate and personal worlds, where sensuality and spirituality come together. Assig uses a range of diverse materials such as pigments, beeswax, charcoal and collage and pulls from many different sources, including folklore illustrations, historical depictions of the body, and comic books. The works shown in the exhibition belong to an extensive group of work named St. Paul, a series that has been conceived as a tribute to the abstract paintings of Paul Klee and which originate in the daily stream of perception, of hearing and thinking, seeing, sensing and reading.
Assig’s work has been shown in important national and international institutions such as Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam and Museo National Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid and a series of institutional and private collections from Oslo to New York.
Finally, Sylvie De Meerleer presents us the most intimate portraiture by introducing the human body – and more precisely the female body as the ultimate structure of human nature. Her meticulous drawings on paper, which are then glued on small squares of copper sheet, uncover blurred body fragments: a torso, a hand, and a facial expression. Recollecting film stills from old black and white films, the miniatures initially offer a rather nostalgic aesthetic. Only at second glance one realizes that these black-condensed drawings are based on pornographic images.
However, fragmented in this way and partially drawn over, the images have something rather fragile and vulnerable. An aspect, which is even intensified as the single drawings are presented as assemblages in cabinets and thereby form an entire cosmos of decay, sorrow and desire.