Present Conditional: Rita Ackermann, Amy Bessone, Ida Ekblad, Sophie von Hellermann, Joyce Pensato, Jana Schröder, Odessa Straub, Anke Weyer
October 16, 2015 – November 27, 2015
MIER GALLERY is pleased to announce Present Conditional, the first group exhibition of the gallery. With eight major contemporary female painting positions, Present Conditional will form a powerful, heterogeneous and intergenerational exhibition as a visual and contextual snap-shot. The exhibition will open Friday, October 16, 2015 at 1107 Greenacre Avenue in West Hollywood, and will be on view through November 27, 2015. An opening reception will be held on October 16 from 6:00pm – 8:00pm.
Present Conditional illustrates the exceeding presence of women in the field of painting by showing current large-format works on canvas. The focus of the exhibition lies in the consistently peculiar dynamics of each artist’s respective pictorial methods rather than in pointing out a specifically female tendency or in pursuing a feminist approach. The painters develop subjects out of the emblems of our environment; they decipher inner worlds or multi-referential constructs and present these in complex cross-genre ambivalence between figuration and abstraction. In this, the relationship between color, material, composition and pictorial content serves the artistic unification of the impulsive and the rational as the essential moment immanent in the works. At this interface between the dissolution and the superimposition, the planned and the intuitive act of painting, a self-confident painting style emerges in the works of these artists, which is aware of art historical traditions but does not need them to legitimize its result.
Joyce Pensato (born 1941 in Brooklyn, New York) devises stylized symbols to celebrate a pictorial pastiche of American pop culture icons. Utilizing highly diluted, dripping varnish in a color-palette that has been reduced to the barest essentials of contrasting tones, she states a sublime superposition of pictorial attributes. The icons created by Pensato melt in the unremitting emphasis on their own shape and solidify in their ambiguity, as the material displaces them from the object plane.
Jana Schröder (born 1983 in Brilon, Germany) confidently questions the sovereign painterly gesture as subject matter, by using the accelerated and decelerated automatism of the performative and visual content of handwriting and doodles. In a sequence of her series of works, Spontacts, she superimposes dozens of layers of oil paint color into heavy, encrusted, dark blue monochromes that become almost black. The impasto reliefs with their syntactic fragments, which are thus created, therefore outlast the fast, painterly actionism in their monumentality.
Rita Ackermann (born in 1968 in Budapest, Hungary) in her recent series Chalkboard Paintings again centres on the theme, which dominates her oeuvre: the volatility and the uncontrollability of the body. Ackermann draws delicate figurations onto traditional greenboard paint in chalk and then partially blurres them with water to form a nebulous reverberation of the figure. The chalk eludes any duration and density and it is precisely for this reason that her medium is best suited to pictorially and substantially represent the volatility of the figure, so consistently provoked by Ackermann in her dismissal of the figurative into its abstract equivalent.
Odessa Straub (born in 1989 in Brooklyn, New York) combines fragments of her visual and tactile memory into experimental new compositions. She arranges abstract shapes, which are often painted in the figurative manner of an old-master style, into a gestural application of paint. Material, pigments and substances, which hold personal connotations, thus form assembled landscapes and spaceless still-lifes. By representing themselves and by forming a surreal, indefinite object at the same time, her paintings become a self-contained construct.
Anke Weyer’s (born 1974 in Karlsruhe, Germany) impulsive and eccentric use of color denies any compositional planning. In her latest series of works, bright expressive colors condense into scenic formations. The spectrum of her palette and the absolute freedom with which she applies paint are the key elements in a diffuse image-space which only coincidentally seems to harbor a certain subject and which presents painting as a living body of color.
Amy Bessone’s (born 1970 in New York, NY) main artistic approach is the deconstruction of the body and its possible pictorial formula. Her diffuse, surrealist portraits show absurd body-part landscapes that defy any classification. Soft, gesturally painted backgrounds in dirty colors offer a constitutive support to the drawn figure by filling the figurative line with life – previously taken away by schematization – through the use of color.
Sophie von Hellermann (born 1975 in Munich, Germany) paints fabulous tales with light, gestural brushstrokes, using watery pastel acrylic paint as the protagonist in the atmospheric density of dramatic composition. Based on literary sources and classical mythology, von Hellermann, in her unmistakable style, transforms linguistic idioms into figurative scenes, which seem to be anticipating dream-like imaginary places. Due to their romantic transfiguration, these scenes act supposedly associative on the one hand, ironically trivialized on the other, because the pictorial narrative is constantly in danger of dissolution.
Ida Ekblad (born 1980 in Oslo, Norway) superimposes, both methodically and pictorially, the findings from her observance of the world, which is led by her situationist desire. She expressively transforms elements of her own context into powerful works. Characters and figures lose their semantics in the free pictorial transfer into abstraction and morph into a state of sensuous representation. Ekblad’s intuitive act of painting is based in a conscious balancing of the compositional potential of color, shape and material basis and demonstrates her trusting view of artistic freedom.
The exhibition title Present Conditional is loaned from a late work by Lee Krasner from 1976 and paradigmatically forms the conceptual superstructure of the exhibition. Krasner’s late work in particular is characterized by the independent – though methodically different – exploration of abstraction and figuration. This can be seen as a turning point in the history of painting: the gradual detachment from Abstract Expressionism. Krasner chose the title of the series to accompany her own method because of its post-structuralist reference. She created collages out of her own early and Pollock’s unsuccessful drawings by first cutting them up and then re-arranging them. Both the ‘alienated’ drawings and the newly found forms are now the transformed, actual pictorial content, representing both themselves and that from which they are made or were created.
Krasner’s late artistic method provides an equally vehement artistic assertion, as can be found in the work of the artists shown here: a pictorial expression which not only accidentally contains its own opposite, but – in a special way – manifests it.
— Inci Yilmaz
(Translated from German)