post-title Hugo Wilson | The Raft | Galerie Judin | 15.06.-17.08.2024

Hugo Wilson | The Raft | Galerie Judin | 15.06.-17.08.2024

Hugo Wilson | The Raft | Galerie Judin | 15.06.-17.08.2024

Hugo Wilson | The Raft | Galerie Judin | 15.06.-17.08.2024

until 17.08. | #4322ARTatBerlin | Galerie Judin shows from 15. June 2024 (Vernissage: 14.06.) the exhibition The Raft by the artist Hugo Wilson.

Hugo Wilson has chosen “The Raft” as title for his upcoming Berlin exhibition. Of course, this immediately evokes associations with the most famous raft in art history, Gericault’s Raft of the Medusa – and inevitably with the theme of “salvation.” So how does this tie in with this exhibition, the first in which his abstract and his figurative works are shown side by side?

Firstly, we need to understand the two poles between which Wilson’s work oscillates. On the one hand, there are the figurative, highly tangible compositions in which animals play a decisive role. They are metaphors of complex processes and moments – not in the animal kingdom, but in our highly technological human societies. The double monkey, for example, that we see in ReTro is the result of recent cloning experiments. The symbol in the background even refers to the corresponding laboratory. Wilson’s horses (State I and II) can also be read symbolically. They are versions of the famous painting Whistlejacket (1762) by Georges Stubbs, which is now one of the icons in the collection of the National Gallery in London. It shows a proud, life-size racehorse set against a flat, monochrome background. It was a bold, highly unconventional picture in an era in which only high-ranking personalities were portrayed in such a manner. Stubbs’ masterpiece, which excludes any reference to a rider, became an emblem of British self-assurance and vigor – in other words, an image that definitely signified state power. Hugo Wilson has picked up on this, turning the animal that in Stubbs’ painting looks at us as it climbs so that it now turns its backside towards us, kicking at the viewer with its hind legs. The animal couldn’t care less about our metaphorical presumptions and its national significance. His meticulously rendered, masterful portraits show that Wilson has a contemporary approach: he is interested in what certain motifs stand for – and indeed why. How do certain images become symbols, a foothold, a saving raft in a sea of indeterminacy and ambiguity? And what happens when these symbols lose their clarity and certainty? How could this even happen?
Surprisingly, at the other pole, the artist’s abstract works follow the same path. These paintings and very large drawings have a figurative starting point, which in intensive over-workings are abstracted beyond recognition. In most cases, the viewer is unable fully follow this path that the artist has chosen. We happily pick up on the few clues that the artist gives us in his compositions: We make associations, try to discern what is intended and what is actually painted – and seek an interpretation for it. It’s our very human need for clarity, our quest for meaning and purpose – to escape the realization that we are, essentially, lost. So even the smallest clue can become a “raft” of our understanding. And this closes the circle of considerations that Hugo Wilson takes us on in this exhibition: Because the rafts we save ourselves onto are a shaky affair. As soon as we think we are standing on safe ground, they are certain to come apart again and our understanding is shattered. And that, unfortunately, is the somewhat disturbing conclusion we deduce from our journey through Wilson’s pictures: we will never quite reach solid ground.

The technical and motivic repertoire of British artist Hugo Wilson, born in London in 1982, seems almost anachronistic. Working in the tradition of the all-round artists as they emerged in the Italian Renaissance, Wilson moves nimbly between diverse artistic means of expression, creating paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures playfully, yet with absolute precision and stupendous craftsmanship. Wilson has recently added another facet to his spectrum of media in turning to the outdoor sculpture.

Vernissage: Friday, 14. June 2024, 6 – 8 pm

Exhibition period: Saturday, 15. June – Saturday, 17. August 2024

To the Gallery



Title image caption: Hugo Wilson, State I, 2023, oil on linen, mounted on panel, 295 × 247 cm

Exhibition Hugo Wilson – Galerie Judin | Zeitgenössische Kunst in Berlin | Contemporary Art | Exhibitions Berlin Galleries | ART at Berlin

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