Robin Mason

Constellation : Konstellation, 2.02 – 2.03.2018

 

5Robin Mason, Constellation : Konstellation, 2018, installation view

 

6Robin Mason, Constellation : Konstellation, 2018, installation view

 

_MG_9017Robin Mason, Collection, acrylic on paper, approx. 650 x 320 cm. Photo courtesy of Johannes Wende.

 

_MG_9034Robin Mason, Threshold, 2017, acrylic on paper, 175 x 240 cm and Black Forest Lake, 2017, acrylic on paper, four wineglasses, 65 x 42 x 15 cm. Photo courtesy of Johannes Wende.

 

4 (2)Robin Mason, Constellation : Konstellation, 2018, installation view

 

3 (1)Robin Mason, Constellation : Konstellation, 2018, installation view

 

2 (1)Robin Mason, Constellation : Konstellation, 2018, installation view

 

As so often with Robin Mason’s work, what first strikes the unaware visitor is its sheer exuberance. The busy installation of works on paper, drawings, paintings and sculpture that is made specifically for GiG Munich, is no different. We enter to a riot of colour, where vibrant oranges, acid yellows, baby pinks and sky blues all vie for our attention. Where there is no colour, a mass of lines takes over, forming waves and swirly patterns – dots and dashes cover any spare surface. Anthropomorphic forms rise up from the ground and grow through and between other forms, twisting around open books or vignettes that give us little views to somewhere else, tree covered landscapes, doorways, windows, more flowers and plants. Pierced by arrows or covered by cloth these forms have an erotic language of their own, some phallic, some clearly female in their appearance. Just when it seems we are able to find some familiar ground, the scale shifts suddenly. Large forms become small and things far away, close by. We find the night sky, reduced in its vastness, low down on the floor, its image only visible from behind and in a mirror.

The work’s exuberance is combined with so many references that it is easy to lose track. Some of these, like those to kitschy Bavarian souvenirs or to the Isenheim Alterpiece, would be familiar to a German audience, others are known to the artist only. Speaking to Mason one hears stories of earlier trips to Germany, of towns visited because of a book once read, of the disappointment of finding the Black Forest, not black but green, and of glasses, all four from a set, that belonged to his parents. The direct reference for the show is the 1609 painting Flight to Egypt by Adam Elsheimer, considered to be the first accurate depiction of the night sky in the Renaissance period.

Hovering above the exhibition is what could be seen as the eye of God and this is perhaps our entry point into the work. For God here, despite the numerous references to North European Christianity, is a Dionysian God, presiding over a world of the will to power, a world of forces and affects, and of the various powers that make up Life. That libidinal drives, both positive and negative, are at work in Mason’s practice is a fact acknowledged by other commentators, who noted that the pleasure apparent in Mason’s paintings tends to give way to feelings of anxiety and dread. I would say that in this exhibition, we enter a sphere in which each element casts influence on another, again positive and negative.   But the trick that Mason conveys so well is of affirmation. As Spinoza, Nietzsche and Deleuze have shown, to affirm brings joy and joy brings us closer to God. In this way, the “constellation” of the title stands for as much the night sky as for the crown of stars, the Corona Borealis, which Dionysus gifted Ariadne and tossed into the heavens.

Magdalena Wisniowska 2018

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Robin Mason

Constellation : Konstellation, 2.02.2018

 

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Eröffnung: Freitag 2. Februar, 18- 21 Uhr

Ausstellungsdauer: 2. Februar – 2. März 2018

Öffnungszeiten: Dienstag – Donnerstag, 15 – 18 Uhr

Bitte nach Vereinbarung unter contact@gig-munich.com

Finissage: Freitag 2. März 2018, 19 – 21 Uhr

 


 

GiG is delighted to be the first gallery in Munich to present the work of British painter, Robin Mason.

Robin Mason (br. 1958, Porthcawl, Wales) is best known for his transcriptive work, with unyielding obsession centred on a few key art historical pieces, most notably by Böcklin and Grünewald. Over the course of his long career he continually revisited these works, spurred on by the intensity of his first encounter with them. His painting practice can be understood as a response to the conflicting impulses he discovered when meditating on their allure, a secret place where religion is bound with erotic iconographic symbols, and pleasure with anxiety and dread. In his own paintings, so exuberant in their attention to detail and graphic design, the humour and charm of the imagery is kept in check by the darkness of their references. Stylistically, his paintings owe as much to Carol Durham as to Magritte.

For his show at GiG Munich Robin Mason has produced a new body of work. In his painting installation Constellation : Konstellation, he seeks to reclaim the fear and excitement of his 1968 childhood trip across Germany. The motive for this particular journey into past experiences is the night sky with its constellation of stars, first accurately depicted in 1609 by Adam Elsheimer in his painting, Flight to Egypt.

Tim Bennett

“Beletage”: Press release

 

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Vernissage: Freitag, 15. September, 18 Uhr – 21 Uhr
Einführung: Dr. Magdalena Wisniowska
Ausstellungsdauer: 16. September – 27. Oktober 2017
Geöffnet: Montag – Donnerstag, 15-18 Uhr,
bitte nach Vereinbarung unter 01795662699 und gigmunich@gmail.com

 

Beletage, Tim Bennett’s first show for GiG Munich takes gentrification as a theme. Taking the anger evident in the scribbles and defacement of gentrified property as his starting point, he incorporates these acts of destruction into his formal sculpture. “Yuppies verpisst euch” can be glimpsed in the large, freestanding picture made of plasterboard; a broken reinforced column stands precariously in front of it, as if left behind after some kind of rampage.

The work dissects the mechanisms of protest, to demonstrate the extent of our complicity in the workings of capital. It acknowledges our current inability to offer any viable political-economic alternative to the capitalist system.

 

Tim Bennetts erste Ausstellung für die GiG Munich – „Beletage“ – setzt sich mit dem Thema Gentrifizierung auseinander. Indem er die Wut, die sich in den Schmierereien und Verunstaltungen von gentrifiziertem Eigentum als Ausgangspunkt seines Werks nimmt, integriert er diese Akte der Zerstörung in seine formellen Skulpturen. „Yuppies verpisst euch“ kann man in dem großen, freistehenden Bild aus Gips lesen; eine gebrochene, verstärkte Säule steht gefährlich nah davor als ob sie so nach einer Randale einfach zurückgelassen worden wäre.

Die Arbeit analysiert den Mechanismus des Protests, um unser Ausmaß an Komplizenschaft bezüglich der Funktionsweise des Kapitals deutlich zu machen. Es bestätigt unsere aktuelle Unfähigkeit irgendeine realistische politisch-wirtschaftliche Alternative zum kapitalistischen System zu finden.

trans. Nadja Gebhardt

 

exercises

 images and text

 

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P1020703aImage courtesy Mary Ramsden and Pilar Corrias

 

P1020753aImage courtesy Mary Ramsden and Pilar Corrias

 

P1020749aImage courtesy Mary Ramsden and Pilar Corrias

 

P1020636aImage courtesy Mary Ramsden and Pilar Corrias

 

P1020631aImage courtesy Mary Ramsden and Pilar Corrias

 

 P1020634aImages courtesy Mary Ramsden and Pilar Corrias

 

Exercise as an activity that aims to improve physical, technical or mental performance is not immediately associated with the practice of painting. It is foremost repetitive – mindlessly so – and despite Duchamp’s well-known phrase “stupid as a painter,” painters do not like to think of themselves as stupid. Nevertheless exercise also demands a deeper understanding of the activity requiring improvement and here lies the question behind the exhibition: what can be exercised in painting? What must be determined before embarking on a future exercise programme?

The exhibition “exercises” brings together two artists, Jenny Forster (b. 1979, Germany) and Mary Ramsden (b. 1984, Harrogate, England) precisely because they take these questions as a starting point for their practice. Both painters produce their abstract compositions analytically, breaking down painting to its constituent components before exercising them separately. For the exhibition Mary Ramsden shows a series of smaller works on panel together with one small canvas. These consist of as little as one or two black marks, some partially erased, hovering above a sweep of off-white glossy paint. Her work’s characteristic tension between doing and undoing is created through the slightest of shifts in intensity or scale. In contrast, Jenny Forster works with a much wider range of elements. Her three large paper pieces include multi-coloured ink swirls, dramatic cuts and smudges of pastel. Unlike Ramsden, Forster also engages with painting’s capacity for illusion, treating the traditional perspective of her sources as yet another element in need of potential exercise. She does however share Ramsden’s concern with the processes of doing and undoing, often wiping or cutting away painted elements to reveal the ground underneath. Ramsden might cut out and paste a single black piece of paper; Forster carves up and recombines large parts of her work. If the ink swirls and watercolour drips of Forster’s pieces seem almost accidental this collage technique lends the work control. The need for control is also present in Ramsden practice, but here it is more apparent in the repetition of certain elements and gestures.

Magdalena Wisniowska 2017

 

Save the date: New show coming up on the 16th of June!

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GiG Munich is delighted to present “Exercises,” an exhibition that brings together new work by two painters, Mary Ramsden and Jenny Forster.

Taking their abstract compositions as a starting point, “Exercises” attends to the different ways these two painters build up a practice over time. It sets up a dialogue between the works to note how these developments may occur.

Mary Ramsden (b. 1984, Harrogate, England) presents a series of smaller works on panel, where each mark made and cancelled counts towards the creation of a tension between doing and undoing. In contrast, Jenny Forster’s (b. 1979, Germany) larger, more exuberant works on paper enjoy the drama of each swirl of ink, sudden paper cut and smudge of pastel.

EASY images and text

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The exhibition was not meant to be called “EASY.” As is often the way, it started with the opposite idea. At the time I was reading Deleuze’s late essay on Beckett, “The Exhausted,” and wanted to do a show, which would make use of its definition of the image. “It is extremely difficult to make a pure and unsullied image, one that is nothing but an image,” writes Deleuze and seeing the late Beckett plays I could believe this was the case. “Of course it is not easy to make an image…”

As all four artists – Jonah Gebka, Hannes Heinrich, Steffen Kern and Janka Zöller – work with images, Deleuze’s definition seemed appropriate. Things changed after I visited them in their studio. We were talking about the possibilities available to contemporary painting and I gave the example of Gerhard Richter – how at the time, to do both, abstraction and figuration, was a challenge that filled him with anxiety. To which Janka replied, “What, only two? Bah!”

Painting now is not difficult in the same way it was 40, 30 or even 10 years ago. Opening up to new possibilities, expanding some pre-conceived notion of what painting might be, what it might do in a contemporary critical context no longer holds the same kind of urgency. And if not, if painting is no longer defined by that kind of hardship and struggle, it would seem painting must be easy instead.

In various ways, Jonah Gebka, Hannes Heinrich, Steffen Kern and Janka Zöller acknowledge this lack of anxiety in their work. For them the fact that painting might seem easy is a strategy, offering a means with which they can engage with the viewer.

Jonah’s work is about surface. Through a variety of means (digital manipulation, engagement with printing processes, the use of mixed media) he makes the surface of the image, specifically its physical aspect, apparent to the viewer. For GiG, he shows a watercolour on paper, stretched around its wooden frame. The image is of a generic blue and white checked deck chair, like those found around pools in holiday resorts around the world. Yet the image is not found, but carefully constructed by the artist.

Janka’s interest lies in contemporary cultures, both high and low, traditional and post-digital. For her current project – and she has many – Janka combines lyrical, Matisse-like abstractions with paintings of eyes taken from her Instagram selfies. Always starting from scratch, always on the move, she paints with restless energy, quickly and directly. The two components of her work, abstraction and figuration, sit next to each other without speaking, never coming together to form a coherent whole.

Hannes works with painting’s capacity for illusion. At its most basic, a grey patch can be a shadow; a few crisscrossing lines make it clear that one lies on top of the other. Is it surprising how little it takes to produce the impression of an endless sunset? He paints wooden frames around his paintings and uses paintings of wood to make sculptures. But unlike the mythical Parrhasius he never tries to trick the viewer into believing that what he sees, might be real. For Hannes, illusion is something very obvious and in its obviousness, intimidating.

Steffen likes to transform one visual register into another, often changing the original narrative along the way. For his drawing “O.T.” he takes a performance by Ana Mendieta and describes it in a few lines of text, referring to the filmed nature of the piece through the introduction of VHS type glitches. In “Props” he takes some tools he found abandoned in an attic and covers them in black paint. They now exist in a no-man’s land, never quite achieving their fictional potential because never quite losing their status as useful objects.

Magdalena Wisniowska, 2017

Save the date: EASY opening on the 28th of April!

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Over the years painting has been many different things. Painting had meant something; it could do things. It was utopian in its aspirations. Then painting was dismissed as elitist and patriarchal. There was the death of painting and its inevitable return. Good painting, bad painting, painting that could be critically viable, provided it tests the limits of representation. What painting was not, was easy. The painter and his struggle was a dominant 20th century narrative, clearly manifest on canvas, visible for all to see.

For the group of young artists participating in EASY, Jonah Gebka, Hannes Heinrich, Steffen Kern, Janka Zöller, the challenge is different. Their effort goes into removing all traces of worry from the pictorial surface, so that painting becomes, quite suddenly, easy. “Easy” is their strategy, their way into painting. It is also a way in for us, painting’s audience, to discover what painting might be.

inorganic landscape – images and text

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“Organic” in its current usage tends to be associated with organic farming, pesticide and chemical fertilizer free – the equivalent German term would be the familiar “bio” from the “bio” supermarket range. Food here is produced organically, meaning that it stays true to its biological origin. Organic is, chemically speaking, carbon-based.

Etymologically however, “organic” derives from the Greek “organikos” meaning “relating to organ or instrument.” An organic landscape is a landscape, which is organised. The natural environment surrounding us is a consequence of human activity, whether this is farming, building, mining etc. But the concept itself refers to a construction. Landscape as such is always constituted through a prior representation. There are picturesque landscapes or sublime ones. Landscape consists of a specific format, with a horizon, back- and foreground and certain distinguishable features. An inorganic landscape would be one that lacks this kind of organisation. It would somehow be free of human activity, both physically and conceptually. In an extreme sense, it would be non-biological, without animal or plant matter. It would also present a challenge to the relation we establish with it. Without the structure landscape offers, nature becomes something we cannot relate to.

The three artists GiG presents as part of the current exhibition, inorganic landscape – Stefanie Hofer, Rebecca Partridge and Miriam Salamander – work with this constructed sense of landscape, often employing traditional techniques to make its mediated nature more apparent.

To produce her etchings Miriam Salamander, first disassembles her chosen environment (in this case, the fields and meadows of southern England) into its constituent components (field, line, path, plant) to then reconstitute them in an idealised form. The etchings are both minimal and matter of fact, consisting of the least amount of mark making required to produce the landscape form.

Stefanie Hofer’s aquatints of classical and modernist gardens take a highly idealised vision of nature and manipulate it further. For GiG she has made two new prints, based on found images of the “El Cabrío” gardens, part of the larger El Pedregal development in Mexico City by Luis Barragán. The gardens were designed according to modernist utopian principles, enclosed spaces where one can retire and enjoy nature. In Stefanie Hofer’s aquatints this harmony of the natural and the manmade becomes darker and foreboding, dismissive of utopian claims.

Rebecca Partridge has a longstanding interest in synaesthesia as a means of relating to the outside world without recourse to representation. Watercolour landscapes of trees painted at a specific time and location are to resonate with ceramic abstract sculpture, producing a constellation of different stimuli. The experience the work demands is no longer bound to representation, but allows for a zone of mimetic relationality, where mimesis becomes a form of collusion with nature.

Both Miriam Salamander and Stefanie Hofer are Munich-based. Rebecca Partridge is a UK artist, currently living and working in Berlin.

Magdalena Wisniowska 2017

Save the date! New show opening on the 10th of March!

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The growing impact of human expansion on fragile global ecosystems is a well-established if not universally acknowledged 21st century concern. The opposition is a familiar one: on the one side, man with his polluting industries, and on the other, nature, unspoilt and pure. However, as already Adorno pointed out, this antithesis of technique and nature is a crude one. Nature, which has not been pacified by human hand – alpine moraines or inorganic outer space – looks precisely like the polluted landscape of industrial debris that is so repulsive to us. Landscape is a construction, organised and codified.

Stefanie Hofer, Rebecca Partridge and Miriam Salamander are three artists, who work in the landscape tradition, accepting that since the early 19th century discussions of the picturesque, culture has provided models of how we view and present our surrounding environment. In their work, they try to make the constructed nature of landscape apparent to the viewer. Central to their practice is the use of traditional technique: ceramic, watercolour, etching and aquatint. At a time when human progress harms as much as it assists nature, their exhibition, “inorganic landscape,” recognises the power these techniques hold.

Magdalena Wisniowska 2017

 

Das zunehmende Einwirken der menschlichen Expansion auf die fragile globale Umwelt ist ein wohl etabliertes, wenn auch nicht allseits anerkanntes Problem des 21. Jahrhunderts. Die Gegenspieler sind uns vertraut: auf der einen Seite der Mensch und seine verschmutzende Industrie und auf der anderen Seite die unveränderte und reine Natur. Jedoch führt diese Antithese von Technik und Natur, worauf bereits Adorno hinwies, in die Irre. Die Natur, die nicht durch die menschliche Hand besänftigt wurde – alpine Moränen oder der anorganische Weltraum – gleicht der verschmutzen Landschaft industriellen Abfalls, die wir so verabscheuen. Landschaft ist ein Konstrukt, organisiert und kodifiziert.

Stefanie Hofer, Rebecca Partridge und Miriam Salamander sind drei Künstlerinnen, die sich mit Landschaft beschäftigen und anerkennen, dass uns die Kultur seit den Diskussionen über das Pittoreske im 19. Jahrhundert Modelle zur Verfügung gestellt hat, wie wir die uns umgebende Landschaft sehen und präsentieren. In ihren Arbeiten versuchen sie die konstruierte Natur der Landschaft für das Auge des Betrachters wahrnehmbar zu machen. Im Fokus ihrer Praxis stehen dabei traditionelle Techniken: Keramik, Aquarell, Radierung und Aquatinta. In einer Zeit, in der der menschliche Fortschritt die Natur gleichermaßen schädigt wie fördert, zeigt ‘inorganic landscape’, welche übermittelnde Kraft von diesen traditionellen Techniken ausgeht.

Translation by Nadja Gebhardt 2017