Based on a true story / Snakes knows it's yoga
Cecily brown - based on a true story
curated by Kathrin Meyer
Cecily Brown (*1969 in London) is seen as one the most successful and convincing representatives of a new expressive painting. The New York-based artist has become well known in recent years for her powerful images that walk the line between figurative and abstract painting. After her retrospective at the Deichtorhallen Hamburg, the kestnergesellschaft is now showing new works that have not yet been seen in an institutional exhibition.
Cecily Brown’s oil paintings dissolve bodies and landscapes into a multiplicity of brushstrokes and colors that generate an atmospheric density. In the new works presented at the kestnergesellschaft, the painterly method increasingly takes on a momentum of its own. Brown herself says that she paints pictures, not motifs – she creates autonomous visual spaces that refer to themselves and their artificiality. Color and brushstroke create independent image worlds in which there are continual suggestions of figurative elements. For Cecily Brown, abstraction and figuration are not two separate worlds, but interwoven facets of painting. The works in the Hanover exhibition embody this oscillation between the appearance of the figure and the emergence of the painterly method in abstraction. The phrase Based on a True Story usually introduces films drawn from »real life«. As an exhibition title it raises the question of the means with which stories are told, and the stories that occur to the viewer looking at the colors and structures of Cecily Brown’s paintings. What is a »true« story, in fact?
Brown’s work is firmly rooted in the tradition of European painting. Her creative processes are attended as much by the detailed depictions of hell by Hieronymus Bosch or Edgar Degas’s vivid lightness, as by the very body-focused painting of Francis Bacon or Lucian Freud. Aside from these sources, an important role is played by images from everyday culture, such as the children’s book »Struwwelpeter«, or photographs from magazines. Contemporary mass-distributed images are equal here to the old masters, as Brown perceives every image in its particular effect and works with this very perception. So a reference to art history is not a regression, but a debate that occurs in the present under the influence of fast-moving media images and in interchange with them. Cecily Brown’s works, sometimes painted with great gestural vigor, sometimes in careful, selective contact with the canvas, are stirring. Her compositions are a profound exploration of the possibilities of painting. The works are carried by a dynamic painterly gestus that takes up and reflects the flow of our perception, the world in motion, and therefore the passing of time. Works by Cecily Brown are held in the collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, the Tate Gallery, London, and elsewhere. Brown’s paintings have been shown in international solo exhibitions in the Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2009), the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2006-2007), the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford (2005), the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (2004), MACRO, Rom (2003), the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. (2002), and other venues.
Nathalie Djurberg - Snakes knows it's yoga
curated by Kristin Schrader
The work of the Berlin-based Swedish artist Nathalie Djurberg (*1978 in Lysekil) will be presented to a wider audience in Germany for the first time with an in-depth solo exhibition at the kestnergesellschaft. Becoming well known for her only apparently harmless animated films, Djurberg has always dealt with themes such as obsession, power, lust, and violence. The filmic works have soundtracks by the composer Hans Berg. As with Djurberg’s contribution to the Venice Biennale 2009, in Snakes knows it’s Yoga the viewer not only encounters animated films, but a strongly sculptural installational ensemble. The work brings together 42 figures or groups of figures, for the most part under Plexiglas covers, on 42 dark wooden pedestals. It also includes two curtains and two filmic works.
In one film, a snake puts a yogi into a trance before tearing him to pieces, something that befalls the adept without the fear of death. »Snakes knows it’s Yoga« can briefly be read in the stage-like scenery. A phrase that can be related to the release from burdens, such as holding on to life, that is hoped for through yoga. Snakes knows it’s Yoga is essentially concerned with the question of why we take on and bear pain. The sculptural works also take up this theme. The figures range from fakirs to punishing deities, ascetics, self-flagellating men and blood- and dirt-stained bodies. But they also include shamans, holy monks, and yogis sunk in meditation. Aside from pain, the attainment of a different state of consciousness is a theme of this work. This is made clear by the second filmic piece: its naked female protagonist catches a frog, and each lick the other’s body. This causes the woman to fall into an ecstatic state, which is expressed in the psychedelic paintings in the background. Djurberg’s use of colored neon tubing on some of the Plexiglas covers can be read as a translation of this altered state, as enlightenment taken visually.
In 2009 Nathalie Djurberg won the Silver Lion of the 53rd Venice Biennale as a promising young artist for her contribution to the exhibition »Making Worlds«, curated by Daniel Birnbaum. She has presented solo exhibitions at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, the Fondazione Prada in Milan, the Vienna Kunsthalle and elsewhere. Her work can be found in the collections of the Sprengel Museum in Hanover, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and other institutions. This exhibition will also be shown in the coming year at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam and the Kunstforeningen GL Strand in Copenhagen. A joint catalogue will appear in October 2010.
For more information please contact Silke Janßen at email@example.com
press preview Wednesday, September 1, 2010, 11 am
opening Thursday, September 2, 2010, 7 pm, the artist will be present
Goseriede 11 30159 Hanover
Opening hours: Tuesday through Sunday 11 am to 6 pm
Thursday 11 am to 8 pm
single ticket 7 €
reduced single ticket 5 €
ticket for opening 10 €