What do we define as “outside” and “inside” respectively? When do we look into something, and when do we look out? Do we see the outside of something, or merely the inside turned outside? The group exhibition Inside Out brings together six artists, who deal with these and similar questions from various perspectives.
In the works of the New York-based painter Stephen Felton (*1975), for example, the contours play a decisive role. His highly simplified paintings appear graphic and sketch-like, with only a few lines drawn freely by hand; only one colour is used for each work. In one of the works on view, “Enter the Pink”, the artist seems to intimate two distinct spaces – an “interior” and an “exterior” space – delineated by pink lines; one seems to be able to peer into – or out of – the inner space through a sketched “gate”. In which direction one’s gaze is directed remains open, since, despite representational “motifs”, the high degree of abstraction in his pictures is not manifested in such questions, but rather remains free.
The Belgian artist Benoit Plateus (*1972) works both in sculpture and on canvas. He finds the motifs for his canvases by appropriating old film posters of B-movies, which he attached in reverse onto the canvas so that only very little of the image itself can still be discerned. The barely recognisable contours and other bits and pieces are then painted over with fields of pastel tones so that, ultimately, only diffuse abstract fragments remain: The reverse side is brought to the fore, while the concrete image is broken down. What is more, the film posters reveal a grid-like structure of rectangles, which results from their being folded together and stored for numerous years in drawers or antiquarian book shops.
Plateus’ sculptures play a similar game of confusion in their search for the original and the reproduction. For these sculptures, the artist, who also works with photography, uses plastic bottles and canisters, in which chemicals used to develop photographs are stored. He fills these with urethane and paint, which spreads through the material that gradually solidifies, depending on how the artist holds and turns the container, either vertically, horizontally or diagonally, leading to a colour- and material-based composition that thwarts the physical laws of gravity. After the material has completely solidified, he cuts away the plastic casing, in the same way that casting moulds are also removed after the cast is complete. What remains is thus an impression of the interior in the form of the original container.
The works of the young New York-based artist Connor McNicholas (*1990) oscillate between two and three dimensions. The two works on view – one lying on the floor and the other leaning against the wall – are identical except for the colouring of their monochrome surfaces. Each consists of three parts: a rectangular panel with a depth of approx. 8 cm, a U-formed “archway”, which lies flush on top of the panel or stands directly next to it, and a narrow rectangular panel, which, in contrast to the other two elements, has a soft foam padding behind the canvas and thus has or rather intimates a Graubner-like voluminousness. Presented in the primary colours of blue and yellow, both objects are reminiscent of doorways, behind which a monochrome colour-space is simulated. In an almost positive-negative manner, the two works alternate the interior and exterior colours.
The Stockholm-based artist Alina Chaiderov (*1984 ) is represented in the exhibition with, among other works, a sculpture consisting of a tubular steel body shaped in a narrow, open form. A long cord hangs from the ceiling and ends in a red net, which holds a volley ball; the ball appears to hang freely in the very centre of the rectangular steel form, only a few centimetres from the floor. Here as well, questions are raised with regard to the limitation of space, gravitational force and viewer perspective. The descent of the ball is virtually frozen within a suggested space within the real space of the gallery and appears to blank out the dimension of “time”.
The New York-based artist Jess Fuller is represented in the exhibition with a large-format work. Her painting is strongly characterised by an organic language of forms, which she sews onto the surface of the canvas as amorphous pieces of cloth; as a result, the canvas appears to be turned inside out, and at the same time palpable and relief-like, washed, sewn, bleached, and bathed in a luminous play of contrasting colours. Sprayed contours emphasise the forms, even though they are merely approximate and misaligned with the sewn-on elements. The beginning and end of the compositions, interior and exterior, thus remain diffuse and wonderfully enigmatic; even within the context of this group exhibition, they evade any clear attempt at a definition on the part of the viewer.
With his wall pieces, Jonathan Binet (*1984), a French artist living in Paris, overcomes the boundaries between panel painting, sculpture and installation. His works almost appear to have no fixed borders and have no clearly defined “front” and “back”. They liberate themselves from the rectangular form of classical panel painting, and are in some cases roundly curved and in others geometrically angular. The artist stretches canvas over shaped plywood panels, gathers the fabric in certain sections or lets it disappear behind metal runners attached to the edges of the forms. The buckling, ruffling, gaping of the canvas, glimpses and views onto structures, struts and mountings are not hidden, but instead become important components of the compositions. As in the works of Jess Fuller, black spray paint emphasises the formal features and contours of the works. Less tangible on the other hand are the strongly delimiting, stencil-like and contrasting applications of paint in combination with very soft, dust-like colour nuances.
Exhibiting artists: Jonathan Binet, Alina Chaiderov, Stephen Felton, Jess Fuller, Benoit Plateus and Connor McNicholas.
Berthold Pott, February 26 - March 30