Contemporary Fine Arts

Gerd Rohling

13 Feb - 14 Mar 2015

© Gerd Rohling
"Sweet ́n ́Sour" C7, 2005 - 2015
lacquer,collage,assemblage on aluminum
80 x 106 cm / 31 x 42"
13 February - 14 March 2015

Contemporary Fine Arts is pleased to announce its first solo show with Gerd Rohling.

In fact, the exhibition Feinschliff started in 1955, when Gerd, nine years old, heard his neighbour, who worked as a steward on a ship, enthuse about his trips to New York. From that point onwards, his future was planned, and he only had to persuade his mother to give him permission to leave school and work in restaurants, so that at twenty, he was hired on the ship Bremen and travelled to New York for the first time.

But Rohling only understood the entire extend of the project, the true meaning of it all, during a later visit to the city in 1995. Seeing all the dark spots on the ground, he discovered his true calling: to look after the discarded chewing gum on the ground. Since he’d fallen in love with the city, and had decided to change its appearance, its image, he started to scratch chewing gum off the ground, -always taking care to leave some spots for future generations of artists- gild it with tin foil, and then bring it back into circulation.

In this image, everybody moves, it changes every day, indeed every minute. And the souls are still in the same places, where people after all take their own identical routes.

Rohling took the first photographs. Then he made collages, paintings, a film. The last series, Süße Seelen, was created in 2014/15.

“I work in many layers. I approach a subject and exploit it as far as possible, until I get to the heart of it, and then I put it aside and wait for the moment when the space is right, the environment. Just as in 2003 with the vitrines Wasser und Wein at Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie, or in 2001 with the Venice Biennale curated by Harald Szeemann. And this is also the case in this exhibition. It is precisely the right moment, because the work is so dense and fully matured.”

Sweet and Sour – that is the sweetness of the chewing gum and the sour feeling when somebody steps into it, getting the thing, which he got rid of there the previous day, stuck to his foot. What remains is not just the spot, but also the sweetness, the taste, the energy of the people, and thus the series of the first pictures is called “Süße Schatten” [Sweet Shadows].

Feinschliff shows, as it were, the quintessence of the whole – the picture on the wall is, as it were, the honey, the sweetness. Rohling sees himself as a busy bee, rushing from spot to spot.

Once you uncover something, worlds open up behind it. It is just a spot one encounters, and when you lift it up, everything changes. “I believe that as soon as you look closely, in every situation – regardless of how banal it is – a whole universe develops. And with the spots we find out that this is an inexhaustible subject. At first sight, you think they are abstract paintings, but actually they are landscapes.”

While the first series of the sweet shadows consists more or less of black spots, now there is more colour, the polyester paintings have a different “music”. They are the “sweet souls” that are still about, floating above the spots. But actually it started as early as 1996/97 with the colourful tin foil, that the spots had their sweetness and their intrinsic seductive element returned to them.

“I actually complement the world, or perhaps I can’t stand the world unless I can add my own two cents, that is to say, finish the picture. So there is something missing, and sometimes I think it’s there anyway and I only have to find it and complete the picture.
It is actually quite an egotistical moment, to enjoy the day and feel good.”

Tags: Gerd Rohling, Harald Szeemann