Kerstin Brätsch – Innovation
- 25.05.2017. - 17.09.2017 2017-05-25
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“Kerstin Brätsch. Innovation” is the first comprehensive exhibition of the Hamburg- born and New York-based painter. In Brätsch’s work, the influences of the digital age are coupled, in a unique manner, with a reflection on art-historical traditions. Her complex and consistent work oscillates between a conceptual analysis of painting and a devotion to painterly processes. With around 60 large-scale paintings on paper and Mylar film, and in the marbling technique, more than 40 handmade glass works, numerous videos, two slide projections, a large installation, as well as several in situ interventions, the exhibition provides a first comprehensive overview of the artist’s painterly practice since 2006.
Kerstin Brätsch’s pictures reflect the pressure to which the medium of painting is exposed by the increasing dominance of digital technologies. In the digital realm, images become mere surfaces that can be pasted across all kinds of different supports and can be circulated with ever-increasing speed. Brätsch reacts to this change, especially in her series of works “New Images / Unisex” (2008/09) and “FürstFürst” (2009), which are based on digital designs by the artist Adele Röder (with whom she founded DAS INSTITUT in 2007). The paintings evoke technical subjects, the imagery of design, or corporate advertisements. She brings the materiality of painting – the inevitable corporeality of paint and the support – into contrast with the transience of digital images.
Brätsch further suggests, through her purposeful references to alternative art- historical genealogies, a new perspective on the (male-dominated) history of modern painting. This becomes particularly evident in her engagement with the metaphysical strands of abstraction and the animistic qualities of painting, for example in the coin paintings of the “Stars and Stripes” series (2009-2012), which the artist describes as a “wishing wells”. For the “Psychic” series (2006-2008), which she created during her studies at Columbia University in New York, she visited countless fortune-tellers. Their character readings served as the basis for her depictions of oversized faces. In the “Psychic” paintings, where we might usually encounter eyes, nose, and mouth, we find abstract patterns and shades that invite viewers to project subjectivity into them. For Brätsch, the “Psychics” visualize energy forms or “Power Heads” that are supposed to return the gaze of the viewer. Brätsch undercuts not only our expectations of the genre of the portrait but also formulates a central subject of her work: the relationship between painting and subjectivity – a connection that is softened, destabilized, and sometimes parodied in her work.
The title of the exhibition, “Innovation”, is derived from an advertising slogan from the compressor company Brätsch in Hamburg. It seems to describe the expectations of a first survey exhibition: the pressure to prove one’s self again and again, and to continuously put out new works and ideas. Brätsch’s strength lies in her ability to expose these types of mechanisms and expectations with great humor and clarity. One of her key motivations is opening up painting to different social contexts and interactions. This is not least reflected in her collaborative projects. Thus, alongside works by Kerstin Brätsch, the exhibition also features contributions from and with DAS INSTITUT, Full-Fall (Davide Stucchi and Mattia Ruffolo), Gaylen Gerber, KAYA, UNITED BROTHERS (Ei and Tomoo Arakawa), and the filmmaker Alexander Kluge.
(press release / pressetext)