02. Mai – 07. Juni 2014
Towers of the Virgin
Carsten Fock (born in 1968) invests his drawings and paintings with abstract colour formations in shapes like ‘shreds’ and figures that constantly seem to be collapsing. In a series of work processes, he fragments these figurations time and again, reassembling and transforming them for critical scrutiny.
Jochen Hempel Gallery presents recent works of the artist that assimilate fundamental themes influenced by a sojourn in the west of the United States. It was during this trip, in particular, that Fock pursued his examination of landscapes and their political and emotional character. In doing so, he extends his earlier preoccupation with the romantically transfigured Watzmann massif in the Bavarian Alps and the Obersalzberg made ‘notorious’ by Hitler.
This work is picked up again under different reference points in the wide expanses of the USA typically yearned for in the quest for freedom: at its heart is the question as to how political and sentimental characteristics in spatial landscapes can be ‘sensed’ and transformed artistically. The title of the exhibition, Towers of the Virgin, refers to a mountain range in the Zion National Park of Utah – a landscape the Mormon community marked with many a deep religious dedication such as allocating Christian names to natural sites.
The first room in the exhibition presents a series of drawings in coloured pen: complex formal works executed with the almost obsessive use of strokes in countless layers, creating a dense yet entirely abstract space. Other drawings depict subjects formed by landscapes that emerge in varying degrees of freedom out of a multilayered tangle of coloured strokes.
While working on this series, both the modes of the formal and the schematic increasingly merge into an inextricable whole. In painting the smaller gallery room entirely in manganese blue, Fock creates a cabinet-like situation – combining the individual drawings into an intense overall atmosphere.
The larger exhibition room presents a selection of paintings. In Carsten Fock’s words, their development is closely connected with his graphic work, out of which he derives the impetus for the first composition on canvas. It is pictorially implemented in a controlled, serially repeated gesture and reworked several times.
The status of the paintings is entirely ambiguous while concrete motifs become manifest in the drawings together with purely formal abstractions. Whether a painting shows a precise landscape motif, the general abstraction of a landscape or a purely formal autonomous image is left open. Cursory lines of a horizon and jotted scraps of a motif suggest references of reality although they cannot be ascertained at close sight.
The perception of the painting by the viewer is a ‘fragmented’ one comparable to a distorting hall of mirrors. Fock’s question as to whether landscape today is still a possible subject, or even a contemporary one, leads to a circular argument that always returns to its very point of departure.