until 04.11. | #4004ARTatBerlin | 68projects presents from 14. September 2023 the exhibition Watching My Own Rotation of artist Lena Keller.
68projects by KORNFELD presents the painter Lena Keller for the first time with her solo exhibition Watching My Own Rotation. In her paintings, which are characterised by digital visual aesthetics, Lena Keller explores the relationship between man and landscape. The play with sharpness and blurriness makes the viewer think of images from the smartphone and of today’s viewing habits.
Following the classic genre of landscape painting, Lena Keller’s paintings revolve around the longing for and alienation from natural habitats. Starting from manipulated photographic images, the artist explores questions of human perception and the influence of the digitally influenced environment that surrounds us. Representational images combine with supposedly virtual influences to create a pictorial reality of their own.
The curator Larissa Kikol has written about this:
„It’s these half-awake yet intense moments in the passenger seat when the blurry landscape appears close but out of reach. Sometimes they are childhood memories of innocent, early-morning departures on vacation. But they can also be experiences of deep contemplation, resulting in relaxation and a sense of healing. Rain, snow, heat, or cold, the outside world appears as if through a haze. You only intuit them, perhaps in an ambivalent half-sleep, indulging your thoughts. Moments in which everything merges, the outside, the cold, the sky, the past from which you might be driving away. Lena Keller’s paintings are reminiscent of such moments. They radiate an ambivalence between measured calm and uncertainty.
There is a reason this exhibition text begins with the description of a mood. Lena Keller paints landscapes, and unlike concepts such as “nature” or “area,” landscapes are human constructs that are always associated with a mood. Ludwig Trepl, professor of landscape ecology, summarizes it from a cultural studies perspective: “Landscape is […] not the area as it exists independently of the viewer, but the area as it is painted in the viewer’s mind. The landscape does not exist unless someone sees it or imagines it.”
In Lena Keller’s landscape paintings, a melancholic mood drifts across the canvas like a gentle breeze, almost lovingly wiping away any brush marks that might suggest a personal touch. Keller utilizes computer-manipulated digital images as templates and virtual filters to exaggerate colors, contrast lights, smooth and flatten details. This is a reference to the tools everyone carries in their pockets, on Instagram, or in image editing apps. Now digitally produced by humans, landscapes have become a contemporary expression of mood rather than a representation of nature. On the canvas, Lena Keller translates the image templates into paintings. Some parts remain realistic, while others dissolve into blurriness. The same applies to the contours. Some remain sharp, while others burst like flames into adjacent areas of color. This also creates emotional uncertainties: Are we looking at pristine nature here? Or is it under attack? Are the trees diseased? Is humanity’s poor treatment of the environment evident here? The negation of the individual hand movement, the artist’s trace-free painting, provides the spectator with a direct view of the landscape. And still, there is a certain distance. In classical landscape paintings, especially in the Romantic period, the distant horizon over a sea or mountain landscape dissolved into a blur. This blurry part challenged the viewer’s analytical mind. The distant horizon eluded them, suggesting the existence of nature beyond their grasp. It was precisely this place that fantasy and longing could occupy, much more intensely than in a view of an idyllic backyard or a well-kept garden.
In Lena Keller’s work, the out-of-focus landscape elements are much larger, indicating a global statement of distance. Natural disasters, climate change, and pollution now account for this distance, replacing closer associations. The viewer is alone, alone in their direct view of the outside, alone in their inability to enter nature, which nevertheless is right in front of them. They are also denied a real understanding of this landscape. When the details disappear, it is no longer possible to identify a particular location or even describe the landscape. The visual language of Lena Keller’s painting is not illustrative or didactic; it does not seek to enlighten or alert. It is much more complex and subtle, evoking human longing through the blurred motifs, the special light, and the intense mood. This is not a longing for nature or landscape in an objective sense but a pure, subjective desire to connect and feel oneself within them. Lena Keller’s paintings do not show human beings but reveal a great deal about human needs.“
The exhibition is on view until November 4, 2023.
Lena Keller studied at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts from 2016 to 2022, where she was a master student of Karin Kne!el. Her works have been on display at exhibitions in Germany and abroad since 2017, most recently at the Museum Fürstenfeldbruck. Works by Lena Keller can be found in the collections of the German Bundestag in Berlin and the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung Munich, among others.
Opening: Thursday, 14. September 2023, 6pm to 9pm
Exhibition dates: Thursday, 14. September until Saturday, 04. November 2023To the Gallery
Image caption: Lena Keller, Watching My Own Rotation 2023, Öl auf Leinwand, 100 x 80 cm
Exhibition Lena Keller – 68 projects | Zeitgenössische Kunst Berlin Galerien | Contemporary Art | Ausstellungen Berlin Galerien | ART at Berlin