Stefan Hablützel, Olaf Holzapfel, Chris Johanson, Gedi Sibony : Fundstücke und Transit
08 September – 21 October 2006
Stefan Hablützel, Olaf Holzapfel, Chris Johanson, Gedi Sibony
Finds and Transit, 08.09.06-21.10.06
The everyday human dimension of living in big cities are the common subject of the works by Stefan Hablützel, Olaf Holzapfel, Chris Johanson and Gedi Sibony that are on display at the exhibition Finds and Transit at JOHNEN GALERIE Berlin. In spite of their individual biographies and artistic form of expression all four artists are striving to transpose the multi-layered intensity of their life affected by urbanity, media, electronic communication and globalisation to a coherent aesthetic statement. They make use of materials and images deriving from that context and reflecting the social effects of modern life as well as the pressure it is putting on individuals’ lifes.
In his collages, pieces and installations Stefan Hablützel (*1964, lives in Düsseldorf) combines citations from the canon of historically anchored forms and a language of images drawn from everyday life and subculture. Alongside the original elements he creates, Hablützel employs materials for his sculptures that have been found or already utilized for other projects. They show traces of use, which can be read as references to their authenticity. Hablützel artificially produces traces that can be broadly interpreted as “authentic-photographic.” The installation of the works, often confusingly two-dimensional quality of the sculptures and insertion of “unfocused” elements incorporate the observer and space as factors. Hablützel’s citations have seemed to animate discourses from earlier periods. Many of these themes are currently experiencing a reappraisal, and Hablützel’s works also appear to illustrate the present. The original meaning becomes detached from representation; Hablützel allows artistic language to merge with biographical and historical commentary. With calculated constellations, the gaze and contemporary technology, he tests the connection between visual appearance and the network of references regarding content.
Olaf Holzapfel (*1969, lives in Berlin) develops an independent language of images in his works (sculptures, spatially expansive installations and digital images) in order to represent a multilayered reality. This language is predominantly based on a language of signs and spatial concepts, yet resists a specific paradigm. Holzapfel’s interest in urban structures, metropolises, architecture and social-political contexts achieves equal expression in his composition and recognition that technological transformations inflect our prevailing experiences of space and time. At the same time, there is a romantic element in his images. Holzapfel’s artistic language remains open, without center. It exposes the interstices and renders the flaws within structures transparent; it develops a scheme for reproducing reality without reducing its complexity.
Chris Johanson (*1968, lives in Portland, OR, USA) is focusing on individual perception within the dominance of an anonymous mass culture. For doing so he exploits the aesthetics of comic strips and the reality of Southpark as well as visual effects that remind of simplified Op- and Pop-Art. He thus gives an ironical but at the same time compassionate comment on the tensions between individual and society, between self-esteem and adaptation. With a sinister comic edge Johanson transforms the fleeting activities of the modern – American – city, the grotesque phenomena of a society absorbed by self-discovery into affecting stories.
Gedi Sibony (*1973, lives in New York) is creating extremely fragile, abstract sculptures from materials as cardboard and plywood, carpet and sticks, metal and sandpaper, both formally as well as statically reduced to their existential limits. The precarious balance of these sculptures, the scarcely remarkable traces of their materials’ treatment and their origin from construction and demolition sites testify their volatileness as do his gently sprayed wall paintings, that seem to catch ephemeral traces. Gedi Sibony, too, is aware of the inherent potentials of materials and surfaces for evoking an image.
Similar to Hablützel´s collages, the urban sceneries of Chris Johanson and the complex representations of Olaf Holzapfel, Gedi Sibony’s fragmented constructions are poetic metaphors for establishing an existence within the context of a continuous transit situation.