Museum Abteiberg

Monika Baer

06 Mar - 12 Jun 2016

Große Spritztour
6 March - 12 June 2016

The dubious history of painting and questionable outlook for painting as a contemporary and relevant form of articulation and reflection have long been a pervasive subject in Baer’s work. Even her earliest paintings caused a stir with their introduction of the painting as a stage:as an object in itself and a performance space. Independent of the individual narratives supported by the motifs, the topic performed and questioned is always painting itself.
At the heart of “Große Spritztour“ (“Grand Joyride”) are Baer’s most recent paintings on the subject of alcohol consumption, which are complemented by paintings and drawings from the last eight years. The new group of paintings shows an intensification of the scenic, theatrical character that has been virulent in Baer’s work from the beginning. Together with the “monochromes,” keyhole, breast and wall paintings, they demonstrate Baer’s specific combinations of abstraction, realism, expressive gesture and Pop Art.The new group of alcohol paintings consists on the one hand of a series of five bright, large-format paintings, with realistically painted bottles lined up on the bottom edge. The bottles are cloaked in an atmospheric emptiness where painting is displayed as a kind of hallucination:dynamic brushwork and surface glazes, sketch-like drawings of drunken faces and finger traces of oil paint. By contrast, the series of mediumformatblack paintings (titled on hold) seem to appear as the negative to the light series. Some of these show stenciled labels of various alcoholic beverages, swirling in black. Others have spackled cakes of oil paint, bits of paint straight from the tube subjected to gravity, a mirror here and a rainbow motif there. They are all fragments or set-pieces from the artist’s reservoir, appearing here in the manner of objects against their black background – as if this is where they reside when they are not operating in other paintings.The twofold approach is characteristic of Baer‘s work. The preceeding series Red Wall (2011/2012) acts as counterpart to the creamy monochrome of the keyhole paintings (rear paintings, 2012), where the claim to a minimalist, abstract image collapses with the trivialnarrative element of the keyhole. And again, the so-called breast paintings (Untitled, 2008/2009) strike a contrast to the supposedly abstract monochromes (2008-2012), which remain enmeshed in their cut-out spider web motif. The positive-negative of the two alcohol seriesdrives the dialectic of Baer‘s painting to the extreme.
What we find here is a radical approach to painting, the distinguishing characteristics of which – from painterly gesture, style or intention all the way to so-called attitude – can no longer be had in their pure versions, only impurely, contaminated and intoxicating.

“Under the Influence” – Wednesday April 20, 8:00 p.m. in the exhibition:
Monika Baer and Hans-Jürgen Hafner, Director of Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen in Düsseldorf discuss painting.

Monika Baer studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf under Alfonso Hüppi. She lives in Berlin and teaches at the Milton Avery School of Fine Art at Bard College, New York. In 2013/14, Baer realized large exhibitions of her work at the Art Institute of Chicago and Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown Massachusetts, USA.
This exhibition of Monika Baer’s work is supported by Foundation Kunstfonds e.V. and was realized in collaboration with the Kestergesellschaft Hannover, where it will be on view from September 2 to November 6, 2016, “Große Spritztour” is being documented in a book that will be published during the exhibition tour.
The exhibition at Museum Abteiberg was funded by the Hans Fries Foundation. Within the framework of the exhibition, the State of North Rhine-Westphalia supported the purchase of a painting for the Museum Abteiberg collection.

Tags: Milton Avery, Monika Baer, Hans-Jürgen Hafner, Hans-Jürgen Hafner, Alfonso Hüppi