Courtesy of Studio Armin Böhm © Gunter Lepkowski

Armin Boehm

"World of Confusion"

170 x 220 cm, Ölfarbe und Stoffe auf Leinwand, 2019

From a bird's eye view and over the silhouette of the artist's body we approach the pictorial world of Armin Boehm: He seems to be floating around the world, first in an easterly direction, past the skyline of Shanghai, then through a film scenery of a small American town idyll flooded with neon spotlights, until we reach Gräfwinkel, the epitome of German backwardness, as well as his home town. The meeting point at the end of the journey is the Berghain, a microcosm of Berlin's dance culture with a paradisiacally tolerant atmosphere. With one hand on the DJ's desk, "entertains" the artist's self-image which is placed in the centre of the picture. As it were, with the brush in the other hand, visualizes, provokes, creates or destroys it. And not only the outer, visible world. The self-portrait also provides a view of the artist's inner world: from a nebulous body space held up by a skeleton of fishbones and mechanical construction parts, the motifs that create the artist's identity as an EU citizen, such as family, nature and progress in medicine and technology, emerge. In a subtle, translucent formal language reminiscent of the gentle border-extending artistic gestures within a propaganda formalism - as once in Walter Womacka's representative painting "When Socialists Dream" - the self-image suggests visionary ideas. For the first time so present in the picture, the artistic self-portrait is a symbol of the conviction of art as a unifying and communicative force, especially of painting and through the artist as mediator.

 

"The artist has dealt with the multiform world (...), I would like to compare this multi-branched and ramified order with the root system of the tree. That is why the sap flows to the artist to pass through him and through his eye. Thus he stands in the place of the trunk. (...) And (the artist) does nothing else at the place assigned to him at the trunk but to collect and pass on what comes from the depths. Neither serving nor ruling, only mediating. So he takes up a truly humble position. And the beauty of the crown is not himself, it has only passed through him.“

 

Boehm's painted picture worlds, which are created from several realities and thus (via) a personal, simultaneously designed picture world peppered with media images, also address serious, current socio-critical topics, are a breeding ground for enriching knowledge, expanding consciousness, a change of perspective. A changed process of seeing is also brought about by Boehm's formal language: Numerous human figures with multiple faces attract attention through an obvious narrative. On the level of design, a second, contemplative gaze is called for, which allows us to observe an interplay of materials on the picture carrier via a fleeting illusionist moment. This ambivalence of the surface, which is striking for Boehm's work, results from a sensitive handling and a precise collage-like application of remnants of fabric to areas of colour. This emphasis on the surface through a double materiality and demarcation, coupled with the omnipresence of the human heads split into the surface, makes one think of the Cubist portraits of Pablo Picasso, while the collage-like surface design of the canvas can be understood as an extension or overcoming of traditional pictorial forms in the Dadaist sense.

A unique added value of this exciting play of materials in Boehm's painting can be discovered in the sensitization of the eye to a shift in the process of perception: in the search for differentiated forms on the canvas, the gaze shifts to the details, to the structural differences of the picture. The perspective is reversed: from the figure and the narrative to an abstract view from the fragment to the whole. This perspective in turn leads back to the legibility and significance of the picture: the artist's picture offers the

The viewer takes up an individual position, with a suggestive power for reflection on oneself and on the individual as a starting point for an approach and a mutual global understanding in the currently turbulent world events. His self-portrait is a door-opener into his pictorial world and at the same time a bridging, an empathic gesture through which the primal longings of mankind are revealed far from cultural and ideological differences.

Daniela von Damaros

(August 2019)

 Courtesy of Studio Armin Böhm © Daniela von Damaros

Jonny-Star-Space-2-2020-photo-by-jjimage
 

 Space 2, 2020, courtesy of the artist, photo by jjimage

Jonny Star

Space 1 - 6, 2020

100 x 135 x 10 cm each, Pigment print on fabric, fabric, Swarovski beads, wool

"Against the tide"

Jonny Star's new wall hangings entitled Space look like stills from a surreal film scene. They show human bodies and Koi fish moving together through a white room and seemingly out of its center to the surface. What becomes visible to us as a result appears frozen despite the dynamics of the body gestures. Dreamlike lightness is contrasted here with heaviness.

With the help of digital collage, the artist creates these surreal motifs. Photographic templates are fragmented, colored and recomposed. The motif is transferred to fabric and experiences an additional material heaviness through embroidery. The Swarovski-beads used and the patterned fabric framing the motif put the image under additional tension through their function as compositional elements. Fabric and pearls correspond in their fleshy red colouring and bring the wall hangings to us through their shine and patterns with a light, playful aesthetic. Shimmering, merging colours, some of which extend beyond the contours, direct our attention to the gestures of the protagonists. Do they suggest points of contact with the outside? Do they blur the border between image space and exterior space?

In the dissolution of the picture surface, Star offers us the opportunity to immerse ourselves in a foreign world of experience. Similar to an aquarium, which allows an insight and freedom of movement, but also lets us experience a limitation through physical gestures and touches. Here, transparency and openness seem to go hand in hand with vulnerability and restriction. Lightness and heaviness of the artistic means of expression evoke symbols of freedom and compulsion, vision and memory, dream and trauma.

The interplay between man and Koi carp associates the important role of the animals in Japanese culture. According to tradition, Koi, the so-called "Nishikigoi", are a symbol of strength, endurance and courage because of their powerful nature, stamina and their ability to swim against the tide. According to legend, they are the only animals that can cross the "Yellow River". Then they transform into a dragon, which stands for luck, success and wealth.  Children are still given "Koinobori", so-called "Wind-Koi", on their way of life and thus symbolically represent the values of the Kois. These convey the vision of a happy and free life, but also point to goals that are in line with those of today's capitalist system.

Are we in the right place, in this aquarium full of Koi fish? Are the values of success and wealth also our values? Or do the powers and abilities of the Koi encourage us to rethink the values of the system we live in and to direct them to our inner needs? With her new work Space, Jonny Star impressively and playfully reveals what it can mean to allow a change of perspective: To live dreams and possibly encounter trauma.

 

Daniela von Damaros

(July 2020)

Jonny-Star-Space-1-2020-photo-by-jjimage

Space 1, 2020, courtesy of the artist, photo by jjimage

 

ZURAG 200711 by OTGO 2020, Acrylic on  canvas, 150 x 400 cm; Courtesy of © Studio OTGO

Otgonbayar Ershuu

The suspension of space and time

In the paintings of the Mongolian artist Otgonbayar Ershuu (Otgo), the viewer is immersed in an endless sea of figures, meticulously painted animals, people and flowers. Sometimes the artist works - in stages - over several years on a painting and creates this unique material and motivic density by repeating and overlapping the figures. His paintings enfold the viewer with their atmosphere, reminding him of the ornamental richness of the architecture of the Orient. The luminous acrylic colors and the composition in turn give the figures a dynamic that makes them begin to flow, like in the six and a half meter long painting INFINITE. Seen from a distance and from a bird's eye view, they move over a landscape as if they were a river, and even run beyond the canvas...

Movement plays an essential role in the artistic work of Otgo. It serves as a symbol for the transience of the material world and the exposure of its constant transformation. The artist experienced the meaning of transience and the power inherent in destruction at the latest during his training with a Tanghka master. He learned to destroy his own just finished paintings. It is a Buddhist exercise to let go of the material world and to be in the moment, to practice concentration, to lower the ego and thus to purify the mind. The mandalas of Buddhist monks are created in this awareness. And so do the paintings of Otgo. Everything that happens during the working process in the studio, the artist says, has an influence on his painting. Constant silent companions of this process - or even totems - are relics of Mongolian nomads, which the artist keeps in his spacious studio.  These are, for example, a roof wreath and a scissor grid wall of a so-called yurt, the tent of Mongolian nomads. Compared with their way of life of permanent migration, many of Otgo's works also undergo constant changes in the form of continuation and overpainting - sometimes months or years later - which often makes the original version unrecognizable.

 ZURAG 200711, 2020, Acrylic on canvas, 150 x 400 cm; Courtesy of © Studio OTGO

The artist, however, remains true to miniature painting. The 600 miniaturized Thangka paintings that Otgo has produced to date, which characterize him as a master of this Buddhist pictorial tradition, he seemingly now brings to one canvas, as his painting formats are now taking on remarkable proportions.

In the abundance of subjects, the horse is particularly common. This is hardly surprising, since a proverb says "A Mongol without a horse is like a bird without wings". In the land of horsemanship, children learned to ride even before they could walk. In the almost two-meter-long work ZURAG 200607, the viewer perceives a blue carpet of horses, which - sometimes more and sometimes less densely "woven" - lies like a mist over a mountainous landscape illuminated by the setting sun.  The painting ZURAG 200606, which is currently still in the process of being painted, is interspersed with the motif of the zebra. For the artist, the zebra as a wild horse is a symbol of man's powerlessness to tame the animal, which lasts as long as he sees the animal as a horse and not as the wild being that it actually is.

The essential theme of movement is most clearly brought to the viewer's attention in the four-meter-long painting ZURAG 200711. Human bodies in free fall can be seen, which occasionally find support on a scaffolding of traces of paint. The characteristic density of the pictorial motifs is loosened up here, thus simultaneously opening up the view into the pictorial space. The figures seem to lose themselves in the infinity of dark blue or dissolve into pure color as an expression of energy.

 

Daniela von Damaros

(September 2020)

 INFINITE – 16 by OTGO, 2013 – 2020, Acryl auf Leinwand , 213 x 650 cm; Courtesy of Studio OTGO © Daniela von Damaros

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