Karsten Greve

on paper III

19 Nov 2011 - 07 Jan 2012

© Justine Harari
Need4Speed (4), 2011
Pastel and inks on archival matte paper
13 x 19 in / 33 x 48.3 cm
Pierrette Bloch, Louise Bourgeois, James Castle, Gotthard Graubner, Justine Harari, Raúl Illarramendi, Silia Ka Tung, Marina Karella, Claire Morgan, Gideon Rubin, Joel Shapiro, Louis Soutter
19 November, 2011 - 7 January, 2012

The Karsten Greve Gallery is pleased to present the third edition of on paper, a collective exhibition devoted to a selection of artists working with paper. The exhibition brings together twelve artists who each use paper in different ways.

The abstract works of Louis Soutter (1871 - 1942), evoking human silhouettes and referred to as finger drawings and finger paintings, were produced during the last five years of his life. The personal and direct approach of the artist using finger painting and drawing – which was quite unique for the 20th century – produce a remarkable and expressive effect that combines seriousness and tragedy in an essentially Christian context.

Louise Bourgeois (1911 - 2010) also developed her drawing practice considerably in her later works. The themes of the feminine figure and the body that she has used for several decades in different genres have assumed an almost obsessive character these past years. In her red gouaches, she dissects the theme of fertility, maternity, birthing and feminine pain through lines that sometimes resemble the incisions of a scalpel, creating blurred and “water-colour-like” contours resembling bloodstains on cloth.

James Castle (1899 - 1977) is a self-taught American artist who was born deaf and who grew up in his family circle far removed from the world in Idaho. Isolated from the international art scene and academic education, he expressed his artistic curiosity by using poor and abandoned materials, offering us an inner landscape that is very personal and not in the least directed towards the public. He discovered a rough and innocent technique of mixing soot with crape paper and his own saliva, applying them with rolled-up paper and little sticks. His ignorance of the fundamental modes of communication such as words, writing or reading, allowed him to develop a channel of expression, observation and reflection upon the framework of his daily world in an existential manner. Landscapes, interiors and houses were created through paper drawings and sculptures on wrapping paper recovered from the Post Office or his father’s grocery store.

Gideon Rubin (1973) a young Israeli artist, is likewise a portraitist of daily life who sketches little silhouettes on pieces of cardboard. With only a few lines or brush strokes, he draws figures representing anonymous figures and celebrities, or figures inspired by the classical masters. The attitudes and expressions are set down on the fly and the characters, even though they are most often faceless, have extraordinary presence. Rubin plays with the contrasts between the representation and the rough support, which at times, is badly cut, incorporating the motifs and letters already printed on the cardboard into his composition.

The work of Claire Morgan (1980) is composed of drawings and sculptures. Alongside her preparatory drawings, she sometimes includes the residues of the taxidermy process as natural traces on her sculptures before adding watercolour and pencil crayon drawings that are rich in meticulous detail. Animals whose blood can leave traces on the page are also represented. Drawing is very important for Claire Morgan because it allows her to explore the different possibilities of each of her ideas. The processes of her drawings towards taxidermy invite a better appreciation of the material and the form and are intrinsically bound.

Marina Karella (1940) – The installation presented for the exhibition on paper III features different portraits, images, landscapes and interior scenes done with oils or the help of collage. These sundry images each independently evoke a space, an action or a time. The installation allows the spectator to invent a story, an adventure or a personal poem for himself or herself. Though each image can obviously be observed alone, the installation evokes a movement as in a dream where situations follow one upon each other or overlap without our initially perceiving the meaning. This approach is both an invitation to dream and a reflection upon the strangeness of the elements that people a life.

In this series of pastel on paper, Justine Harari (1968) continues her research on the notions of authorship, the meaning of images and ideas relative to reality. The images come from a video game (Need4Speed) and a YouTube music video by (Grace Jones - Corporate Greed), which are interpreted in the form of soft, powdery pastels, one of the most traditional artistic genres. They are presented in a panoramic format that immediately evokes the idea of a strangely familiar film. By creating works from images she has appropriated, Justine plays with the notion of authorship with a mocking air. Using pre-existing images and juxtaposing them in different ways, she creates a fresh iconography and just like iconoclasm, the destruction of an image creates another.

Silia Ka Tung (1974) is fascinated with the invisible spheres of nature and the human body as well as the interior labyrinths of creation. Her art explores the deployment and curious processes of the fascinating functioning of the human body that are too minute to be seen with the naked eye. She seeks to create a work that symbolises life, energy and strength.

In comparison to his sculptures, Joel Shapiro (1941) produces his works on paper in a more abstract manner. He also creates collections of geometric forms but these are less concentrated on the tension between abstraction and figuration. Evoking in his sculptures the association between the human body in movement and the exhibition space, he seeks a tie between the level of the motif and the reality of the materials deployed such as charcoal and paper on pastel. He transmits the idea of the body in space, initiated in his sculptural creations on a two-dimensional surface. He provokes a perception of tensions and movements through a heterogeneous geometry and contrasted colours that find an outlet towards the spectator thanks to the visibility of the characteristics of the powdery material, smudged beyond the contours of the quadratic shapes.

Pierrette Bloch (1928) “goes off on an adventure” to explore the limits between drawing and sculpture as well as the relationships between emptiness and fullness that depend on her spontaneous gestures. Right from her beginnings, she played on the almost imperceptible variations of tonality and rhythm. Her abstract work made from poor materials and simple shapes is essentially focussed on space, time and movement. Her works on paper include drawings and collages comprised of torn paper, superimposed and marked with spots of India ink that she applies in small dabs in repetitive and random dots.

Raul Illarramendi (1982) pushes the limits of artistic expression through drawing. Most of his drawings from the last decade are the result of his ongoing interest for the representation of the errors and traces left through spontaneous activity. Two gestures are confronted in the series Tache Formaliste (Formalist Task). The representation of fluidity and the free flow of viscosity on the one hand in painting as a medium and on the other hand the abrupt interruption of this flow providing a new status to the hue, a second level of abstraction, withdrawing its identity in the space. Even though these series appear to be aesthetically opposed, they are all the product of a continuous reflection. The representation of a false hue, of a false fluidity of a false rhythm and a false event. His works are produced only with the point of a pencil.

Gotthard Graubner (1930) found his path very early and has followed it with a great deal of consistency developing the autonomous life of colour as a principal theme. His works have a meditative character and express great sensitivity. The chromatic inequalities evoke a sensation of space that gives the surface of the work new dimensions. The works on paper have always held an independent status in Graubner’s work and are characterised by greater experimentation and spontaneity.

Tags: Pierrette Bloch, Louise Bourgeois, James Castle, Gotthard Graubner, Claire Morgan, Gideon Rubin, Joël Shapiro, Louis Soutter