26.01. - 02.03.2023
Wolfgang Petrick - Ulrich Reimkasten - Mathias Roloff
Thursday 26. January 2023, 17:00-21:00 | 19:00 official opening
"Drawing creates an artist's reservoir, it is his breathing." (Ulrich Reimkasten) — In the execution of a line on white paper, sensations, figures, motifs are formulated, comparable to thoughts when struggling for words. Again and again placed in an origin of nothing, drawing is a search and self-reflection. At the same time, it always demands a confrontation with reality as a "model" in the transfer from the eyes to the artist's hands. These reflections on drawing inspire this exhibition. The juxtaposition of Wolfgang Petrick, Ulrich Reimkasten and Mathias Roloff gives it an art-historical depth, because artist personalities from three generations with three fundamentally different "German-German" biographies meet here:
WOLFGANG PETRICK was born in Ludwigsfelde/ Genshagen in 1939 and moved to West Berlin at the age of twelve, where he made his way as one of the well-known Berlin painters and object artists and, from 1975 to 2007, as a professor at the Academy of the Fine Arts Berlin.
ULRICH REIMKASTEN, born in 1953 in Lichtenstein (Saxony) and from 1995 to 2018 professor for painting and textile arts at the Halle Art Academy Burg Giebichenstein, proved himself to be a stubborn cosmopolitan even as a student and working artist in the GDR.
MATHIAS ROLOFF was born in East Berlin in 1979 and grew up there and represents the artists of a generation that grew up in the reunified Germany in their youth. From 2000 he studied painting and graphics at the Berlin University of the Arts, in 2006 he completed his master class with Volker Stelzmann.
The graphics shown in the exhibition encompass a wide variety of materials and techniques, from classic pencil drawing, screen printing and etching to photogravure, text-image collage and the integration of digital pigment prints to finger drawings with clay or the ink of mushrooms.
Background information on the artists and the works on display
WOLFGANG PETRICK began his artistic career in the 1950s surrounded by teachers who were close to the Bauhaus, Abstract Expressionism, Surrealism, gestural painting and Art Brut. In addition to 15 other Berlin artists, including Karl Horst Hödicke and Markus Lüpertz, he was a founding member of the exhibition group "Großgörschen 35" in 1964, which strived for independence from institutionalized market strategies. In contrast to the established trends, Petrick together with Hans-Jürgen Diehl and Peter Sorge founded the „Critical Realism, which had set itself the goal of doing away with the narrow-mindedness and the constraints of German post-war society" (Harald Falckenberg). Although Petrick distanced himself from this project in the late 1970s, a lasting statement on the task of "realistic" art is preserved in it: the appeal to the artist to reflect on the upheavals and crises of his time, on the changes and deformations affecting the individual as well as affecting society. Even as a young artist, he worked intensively on the Prinzhorn Collection, one of the most comprehensive collections of art by the mentally ill. The importance of his artistic work in this context got acknowledgement in 2011 with his participation in the exhibition “From Kirchner to today. Artists react to the Prinzhorn Collection”. For Alexander Tolnay, in Petrick we encounter "conditions of a world suffering from banalities and increasing violence" (ibid.), although in the intense, charged images so many things are voiced that are worrying — globalization, asylum, genetic engineering, economic crises, disciplining of the mind and body, self-optimization, hopes, longings, fears, impacts, decay — one only fully follows them if one understands that there is a peculiar charm in everything inedible, uncomfortable: the "poetry of enigmatic things that preserve the memory of something, that once had a meaning for the people” (quoted from Wolfgang Petrick, ibid.), because it was the aesthetics and the intelligence of the people that created these things.
ULRICH REIMKASTEN began his artistic career with training as a pattern and textile draftsman and early involvement with textile art and ornamentation from various high cultures, especially with Near Eastern carpets. In 1974 he graduated as a textile designer from the University of Applied Sciences in Schneeberg (Erzgebirge). After graduating from Burg Giebichenstein in 1980, he worked as a freelance artist in Berlin. From 1985 to 1988 he was a master student at the GDR Academy of Arts under Herbert Sandberg. In the SEPIA Institute for Textile Arts, an institute affiliated with Burg Giebichenstein, which Reimkasten founded in 2010, his lifelong efforts to preserve and further develop the textile arts, especially tapestries, continue to have an effect.
Already in the early independent drawings of the 1980s (selection in the exhibition), Reimkasten refuses the socialist ideal of "realistic" representation, according to which art has to flatter an exemplary reality or ideology. His drawings result in "lethal encounters between animals and humans" (Alexander Haeder, in: Drawings. Tapestry. Painting. Ulrich Reimkasten, 2005), it's about turmoil, eroticism, procreation, mortality and the latently endangered balance between humans, nature and history. Long before intensively dealing with paleolithic cave drawings (1992-96 trips to France and Spain) and the life of indigenous people (from 1996 four trips to the Tarahumara, Sierra Madre, Mexico), the artist undertook experiments with self-made painting materials, for example stains from natural substances and dissolved quartz and stone flour, clay or even the ink of mushrooms. His love of materiality and compaction of the picture layers shows parallels to Wolfgang Petrick. Notes/text messages, quotations from prehistoric iconographies or ornamentally intertwined people and animals are hidden under the upper “skin” of the graphics. Reimkasten sets topics such as the artificialization of the world and the progressive regulation of nature and people in modern times in relation to universal myths and the idea of a genetic linkage of culture and nature. "Ultimately, what interests me is the unnatural, the unnaturalness of our world." (Ulrich Reimkasten)
While studying painting and graphics at the Berlin University of the Fine Arts (2000-2006), MATHIAS ROLOFF developed a special interest in the painting traditions of Flemish-Dutch landscape and still life painting of the 16th and 17th centuries and Mannerism and, at first sight in contrast, Paul Klee's theory of the abstraction of color fields and magic squares. His mature style finalizes the connection and further development of these traditional lines in the confrontation with surrealistic principles: the construction of dystopian, fantastic worlds and the rejection of the normal dimension of time and space. Instead, it seems to be about inventing a world somewhere between reality and dreams, maybe even inventing new myths? — In 2002, Roloff worked as an assistant for stage design at the Berlin State Opera. In this context, Christoph Tannert speaks of “thinking and creating out of the color, out of the material” while always giving the figurative a chance (in: Alles muss in der Luft stehen. Mathias Roloff, 2020). The exhibition features graphics from series of works that show compositions of human figures, their gestures, movements and interactions. The figures are often so condensed that the line of movement of one seems to create the contours of all the others. They form their own changing Gestalt. Perhaps this reflects the "dependencies to which the human individual is subject in his actions", external influences and one's own values — a topic that keeps occupying the artist and which calls to mind the explosive nature of the uncertainty of categories such as identity, truth and future, which are being pushed further by digitalization and globalization in the 21st century.