Diagonal

Andrea Hanak, Berthold Reiß

14.03 – 24.04.2020

P1030903i
Andrea Hanak, Berthold Reiß, Diagonal, 2020, installation view
P1030905iAndrea Hanak, Berthold Reiß, Diagonal, 2020, installation view
P1030907iAndrea Hanak, Berthold Reiß, Diagonal, 2020, installation view
P1030909iAndrea Hanak, Berthold Reiß, Diagonal, 2020, installation view
P1030910iAndrea Hanak, Diagonal, 2020, installation view
P1030912iAndrea Hanak, Diagonal, 2020, installation view
P1030911iAndrea Hanak, Diagonal, 2020, installation view
P1030913iAndrea Hanak,  Diagonal, 2020, installation view
P1030915iAndrea Hanak, Diagonal, 2020, installation view
P1030966iAndrea Hanak, Helles Blau (Light Blue), 2019, Ink ad oilstick on paper, 76 x 56 cm
P1030961iAndrea Hanak, Übermalung (Paint Over), 2018, Ink and oilstick on paper, 76 x 56 cm
P1030960iAndrea Hanak, Komposition mit Rot (Composition with Red), 2018, Ink and oilstick on paper, 76 x 56
P1030958iAndrea Hanak, Klein Blau (Klein Blue), 2018, Ink and oilstick on paper, 76 x 56
P1030934iBerthold Reiß, Die Prophezeiung, 2020, Acrylic on paper, 69 x 809 cm (detail)
P1030939iBerthold Reiß, Die Prophezeiung, 2020, Acrylic on paper, 69 x 809 cm (detail)
P1030941iBerthold Reiß, Die Prophezeiung, 2020, Acrylic on paper, 69 x 809 cm (detail)
P1030942iBerthold Reiß, Die Prophezeiung, 2020, Acrylic on paper, 69 x 809 cm (detail)
P1030943iBerthold Reiß, Die Prophezeiung, 2020, Acrylic on paper, 69 x 809 cm (detail)

Two artists, two bodies of work on paper. Berthold’s, despite its unusual frieze-like format, is instantly recognisable as his. His paper is very fine and thin, his wash of acrylic paint pale, uneven and mottled, his underlying pencil drawing elegant. There are palm trees, ornaments, vases and faces, standing figures and boats. Andrea’s are perhaps less obviously recognisable as hers, but certain motives and gestures persist. Her paper is laboured upon and worn; her surfaces are uneven, encrusted and often covered by a latticework of marks made with oil crayons; her colours are rich, vibrant and deep. There are flowers and bulbs, leaves and petals, and decorative foliage. 

Paper, pencil, paint and crayons — all supplies a hobby artist might use. Flowers, vases and plants — all things what a hobby artist might paint. Andrea and Berthold take on these tropes of the amateur because they find the conventionality of paper, paint and flowers liberating. It is one of the self-imposed limitations on their practice that brings to the fore the peculiarity of what it means to make.

Traditionally speaking, making belonged to the domain of the human and defined the finitude of his cognition. A paradoxical consequence of our Anthropocene era, in which our specie’s dominance over the conditions of life on earth is complete, is that this thinking of human finitude was found to be limiting. Developments in science and technology, new social and political paradigms of finance capitalism and unprecedented ecological pressures opened philosophy to questions of the post-, in- or even non-human. 

If we begin to think about making not in the familiar terms of the maker and his creation, but as an impulse, which is not bound to the human domain, then this impulse can take two forms. On the one hand, there is a rational impulse in all labour, the need to overcome our human limitations through the use of reason. This is Promethean in character in that it is the need to remake our world for the better. On the other hand, there is a vitalistic force which we share with all animal life, which has to do with our need to attract. Here we live as an intensity, always connecting to other bodies, other intensities, to produce new and complex composite subjectivities. 

I like to think of Berthold’s and Andrea’s work in this way, because it seems to me caught between these two forms of making. In their use of paper and paint, the work steps outside the tired narrative of art and genius to produce a kind of diagonal between the rational and the animalistic impulse. The almost classical looking lines of Berthold’s work are in tension with its fragile materiality; Andrea’s seemingly expressive gestures are kept in check by consistency of format and time frame. Looking further, the meticulousness of Berthold’s work signals the rationale behind Andrea’s making; the pleasing density of her work marks the appeal of his surfaces. And with my thoughts of making and finitude, I, the third participant, stand not in the middle, but split across this complex assemblage.

Magdalena Wisniowska 2020

Diagonal – speech

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