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Woman and Men: Katharina Jacobsen –€“ Hendrik Krawen

 

12th January - 1st March 2008

 

The USCHI KOLB Gallery shows works by

Katharina Jacobsen and Hendrik Krawen

 

The Gallery USCHI KOLB begins 2008 with a double show of the most recent works by Katharina Jacobsen and Hendrik Krawen. Their works can be seen from the 12th January to the 23rd February. Katharina Jacobsen, who was born in Düsseldorf in 1959, studied painting at the Düsseldorf Art Academy, under Gerhard Richter, and later art history in Bochum. After having focused her production on conceptual art and having participated at several art-projects like Friesenwall 116a and The Thing until the beginning of the 90s, in 1993 Katharina Jacobsen dedicated herself to the genre of drawing. To free herself from the preconditioned techniques arising out of her experiences at art school and years of praxis, the otherwise right-handed artist decided from that point onwards to draw with her left hand. With her generally small and apparently fragile drawings, Jacobsen investigates, from ever-changing perspectives, themes such as women–€™s roles, the relationship between men and women, and related clichés and conceptions. Her current works, for which Jacobsen has also rediscovered the medium of painting, focus mainly on the representation of single figures. The artist plays with the genre of portraiture, whereby she depicts fictive characters, filling each image with their faces. Again, she seems to be dealing with possible characterisations, or homing in on the idea of the typically female. Most of the faces in the drawings and oil paintings have a weighty seriousness about them and their glance directly meets the one of the contemplator, which appears as if the figures gave back immediately his inquiring look. Despite their differences, the pictured physiognomies feature important similarities and give the impression of descending from a large model family. On the one hand, this impression makes clear that the representation of people –€“ both imagined and real –€“ is always based on a particular idea, and that even portraits are never simply pure depictions. On the other hand, this type of representation can also be read as a critique of a society that ostensibly supports individuality, while tending, in the course of global commercialisation, to depend on individuals that are reduced to schemas.

The question of individuality is risen also by many of the pictures of Hendrik Krawen, who was born in Lübeck in 1963 and studied painting at the Art Academy in Düsseldorf. Several of his works reveal a world that lives from the tensions between the seemingly miniature figures and disproportionately large letters, set against a monochrome background. The stylised letters, which retain a logo-like symbolic quality and cannot be combined into legible words, operate as the organising principle in Krawen–€™s paintings. They take on the function of a landscape structure along whose lower edge, the figures move, described, despite their size, in minute detail. As with the letters, the figures don–€™t stand in any visible relation to one another beyond their mere presence within a collective space. Krawen–€™s figures appear like stand-ins for a rehearsal, a model situation. The sense of abandon and vulnerability of the clearly young people in an undefined, perhaps no longer existing framework brings a sense of apocalyptic foreboding. At the same time, however, these people look calmly at the letters enthroned above them and at the dark horizon. Their detachedness could also be interpreted as freedom. In this unregulated situation and this sense of being thrown back on simple existence for Krawen lies the fascination of the –€˜zero hour–€™. Events such as the Love Parade in the 90s, as with, in principle, every carnival, come close to resembling a ritualised apocalypse and a repeatable –€˜zero hour–€™. It is this –€˜parallel world–€™ emerging here as well as in the situations resulting from technically produced music that fascinates Krawen. The physical feeling of community, caused by rhythm and sound, as well as the joint experience of a reality which is detached from every day life, characterize this –€˜parallel world–€™. This community, however, is the illusion of a moment. Ultimately, each person remains alone with him or herself, and travels alone through a grey dawn.

Both Krawen and Jacobsen, under different points of view, work with ostensible characterisations, model situations that suggest social and individual mechanisms of our present. Katharina Jacobsen und Hendrik Krawen live together with their son in Berlin.

 

text: Susanne Husse