until 10.11. | #2236ARTatBerlin | Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery presents from 27th September 2018 the exhibition And He Built A Crooked House by the artists Chris Agnew and Marcel Buehler.
Neon light is reflected in nickel-plated CO2 cylinders. Finely engraved lines contrast moments captured in oil. For Berlin Art Week 2018, the Kristin Hjellegjerde gallery exhibits work by Berlin-based Marcel Buehler and British Chris Agnew; two artists united by an interest in what lies beneath the surface. The exhibition title “And He Built A Crooked House” refers to a science fiction short story of the same name, written by Robert A. Heinlein in 1940 – obsessed by the idea of creating a spatial, rather than a temporal, 4th dimension, an ambitious young architect builds a house in the form of a tesseract. An earthquake makes his ideas an unplanned reality; formerly distant rooms are suddenly close together, or even occupy the same space. Windows look out onto different cities and worlds. Leaving is impossible, until a second earthquake occurs and the house disappears into Nirvana.
Now almost 80 years old, many elements of the story seem shockingly contemporary. Digitisation has indeed introduced a fourth dimension into our lives and thinking. Time and space are blurred, and literally at our fingertips. As the digital universe becomes a new reality, what seems true in one moment may be obsolete in the next. This dance of permanence and transience, of coming together and breaking apart with increasing violence and intensity, is powerfully captured in the works of both Agnew and Buehler.
Chris Agnew’s series of works explore the innate human desire for clarity, stability and trust in a digitized world of shifting perspectives and information-overload. His unique technique is concerned with the process of story-telling itself, and the power and permanence of the contemporary narrator’s voice. Using imagery from real-life investigative journalism, among other sources, he applies fine layers of oil paint to wooden panels prepared with around 20 layers of handmade gesso. The intensity of the colours emphasizes the mysterious and immersive qualities of shadowy forms and textures. Some areas of the paintings have been sanded-down to further underline their transience and volatility. Finally, he uses -in an act of artistic self-vandalism – ancient engraving tools and a dentist’s drill to carve through the surface of the painting with deep, irremovable lines and motifs. Thus, the lowest surface of the gesso is excavated and elevated to the highest, most visible position. The question of truth – sometimes fixed and sometimes flexible – plays a central role in Agnew’s practice, where facts are often overshadowed by emotions. A similar, deliberate uncertainty is present in Marcel Buehler’s exhibited works, in the neon-based light sculpture “On ne sait jamais” (You never know) and in his unique copy silk screenprints “Machiavelli 01 (NOBS)”: the end justifies the means, the world is nothing but a stage – even presidents and policy-makers prefer distraction and empty spectacle to truth and reason.
The nickel-plated CO2 cylinders used in “Rumour IV” and “Rumour V” urge the viewer to reflect on the strength and potentially explosive danger of misplaced words. Already threatening in the pre-digital past, fake news now travels at the speed of light, the leading edge of a digital shitstorm with the power to destroy everything it touches. Despite our “right to be forgotten”: the internet does not forget. Our avatars depict us, every keystroke revealing our desires and fears, our acquaintances and our secrets. Buehler’s works hint at those parts of us that might withstand the storm, those nuggets of gold among the dross which stand for permanence.
Both Buehler and Agnew are sensitive observers of the (all too) human condition. They question our identity – and the degree of our alienation. Humanity has always been shaped by evolution and revolution, by progression and disruption, but today’s unparalleled pace of change forces us to confront the fact that we may not recognize ourselves tomorrow. Undoubtedly, the potential of the “fourth” dimension is vast and intoxicating. The question is: what does it want in return? On ne sait jamais.
About Chris Agnew
Chris Agnew is a British artist known for his drawings, etched gesso panels and project-based work. He received his BA in Contemporary Art Practice from The University of Leeds in 2008, followed by a Masters in Fine Art at the Wimbledon College of Art in 2010.Methods of researching, disseminating and re-purposing knowledge lie at the heart of his practice, the content of his projects being informed by interdisciplinary dialogue charged by socio-political concerns. He is interested by the malleable nature of what we hold as ‘truth’, and how the presentation of information in the digital age informs our subsequent understanding of events. Previous projects have included exchanges with Orthodox iconographers, a Canadian archaeoastronomer, and a collective of investigative journalists in Romania. Agnew was awarded the Axisweb Artist Award (2017), the Derwent Art Prize People’s Choice (2016), and has been shortlisted for awards including the Jerwood Drawing Prize (2010 and 2009 respectively) and Saatchi’s New Sensations (2010). His works are held in collections including the V&A, London, the Hearst Corporation, New York, and Luciano Benetton’s Imago Mundi. Recent solo shows include Ba da, Dodă (2017), and Dither (2016) with Kristin Hjellegjerde, London.
About Marcel Buehler
Marcel Buehler was born in 1969, Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany. He lives and works in Berlin, Germany. He finished his undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate studies at the Academy of Visual Arts (HGB) in Leipzig, Germany. He is a conceptual artist whose work uses humor and irreverence to investigate themes of contemporary life. He relates his art process to traveling, even if the way there is arduous, the end result allows him to reflect back on the journey and feel more alive. His practice encompasses a broad range of media yet two primary focuses have crystalized over the years: sculptured light and collage. Recent solo exhibitions include Kosmos at the Galerie Andrae Kaufmann, Berlin (2012), Germany and The One Trick Pony at the Galerie Martin Mertens, Munich, Germany (2011). He also participated in the recent group exhibitions including Liaison at Uferhallen, Berlin, Germany, A New Language at The Observer Building, Hastings, UK, Junge Sammlungen 03 at Museum Weserburg, Bremen, Germany, and Los Angeles (Berlin – L.A. Trilogie III) at Galerie Kornfeld, Berlin, Germany.
About Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery
Kristin Hjellegjerde opened her gallery in London in June 2012, followed by a second space in Berlin in 2018. Named one of the top 500 most influential galleries in the world by Blouin (2015), as well as independent gallery of the year by the Londonist (2014), Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery showcases cutting-edge contemporary art from emerging and established international artists, with the central concern being to create an intimate space in which artists can present a coherent body of work within a focused environment. Drawing on her own international background, Kristin Hjellegjerde seeks to discover and develop new talents by creating a platform through which they can be introduced to local and international audiences and by allowing for artistic exchange. Kristin Hjellegjerde also acts as an art advisor for both emerging private and corporate collectors, and will also be curating Vestfossen Kunstlaboratorium’s summer exhibition 2019. For more information, visit www.kristinhjellegjerde.com.
Opening: Wednesday, 26th September 2018, 6 – 9 pm
Exhibition period: Thursday, 27th September – Saturday, 10th November 2018Zur Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery
Image caption: Chris Agnew „Night Shift“ (90x120cm / 34,4×47,2in), Courtesy: artist und Galerie
Exhibition Chris Agnew + Marcel Buehler – Galerie Kristin Hjellegjerde | Zeitgenössische Kunst in Berlin | Contemporary Art | Exhibitions Berlin Galleries | ART at Berlin