post-title Martin Spengler | Creatio Ex Aliquo | Galerie Kornfeld | 14.09.–04.11.2023

Martin Spengler | Creatio Ex Aliquo | Galerie Kornfeld | 14.09.–04.11.2023

Martin Spengler | Creatio Ex Aliquo | Galerie Kornfeld | 14.09.–04.11.2023

Martin Spengler | Creatio Ex Aliquo | Galerie Kornfeld | 14.09.–04.11.2023

until 04.11. | #4003ARTatBerlin | Galerie Kornfeld presents from 14. September 2023 the exhibition Creatio Ex Aliquo of the artist Martin Spengler.

Kornfeld Galerie Berlin is showing works by Martin Spengler under the title Creatio Ex Aliquo. New reliefs and sculptures fill the space, which Spengler cuts out of corrugated cardboard blocks in his unmistakable technique, paints with gesso and then emphasises the cut edges with graphite. His works invite us to reflect on the changes and ambivalences of German society over time and to deal with current issues of our coexistence – even superficially “harmless” motifs such as a picture of the Colosseum in Rome, the depictions of waves breaking mightily or a la-ola wave in a stadium lose their innocence, but they too tell of the power of the masses.

The exhibition “creatio ex aliquo” brings together new reliefs and sculptures by Martin Spengler, which he cuts out of corrugated cardboard blocks in his distinctive technique, paints with gesso, a primer for paintings, and then emphasizes the cut edges with graphite.

The exhibition title is borrowed from the Latin „creatio ex nihilo“, and thus from the question of whether “something” can arise from “nothing.” By modifying this term in his exhibition title to “creatio ex aliquo,” Martin Spenglers negates the idea of a presuppositionless artistic creation, following on from Andreas Großmann, scientific director of the Forum Interdisciplinary Research at the TU Darmstadt, who remarks: “Creative processes don’t start in nowhere, they don’t begin with nothing, they rather presuppose something, tie in with something that they transform, reform, or even radically revolutionize.”

After the focus of his work in recent years has been almost exclusively on architecture, Spengler expands his visual vocabulary in his current works. In addition to skyscrapers such as the Collini Center in Mannheim, a parking garage, or a tower of the Cologne Cathedral, there are also images of a roller coaster, the Colosseum in Rome, and powerfully breaking waves. Subtly, these works invite visitors to reflect on the changes and ambivalences of German society over time and to engage with current issues of our coexistence. Even superficially “harmless” motifs such as the image of the Colosseum, the depictions of waves breaking mightily and powerfully, or a La Ola wave in a stadium lose their innocence, yet they too tell of the power of the masses.

In his text “BRD Noir” Björn Vedder describes the art of Martin Spengler as follows:

The works of Martin Spengler explore the interplay between social and architectural structures, with a particular focus on the old FRG (Federal Republic of Germany), where the artist (born 1974 in Cologne) grew up and was socialized. Examples are the two reliefs of the Collini-Center in Mannheim and the sculpture of the Cologne Cathedral. Spengler was a master student of Karin Kneffel and cuts his reliefs and sculptures out of corrugated cardboard blocks, finishing the cut edges with graphite. This produces shimmering images with sharp contrasts, transforming the small-scale city views into a visual maze. The changing sunlight casts wandering shadows on the works, whose almost monochrome color communicates with the color of the room. Spengler’s mirrored images are striking and eye-catching: the Collini-Center seems to be collapsing or is located on the wrong side of the Rhine. In the case of the Cologne Cathedral, one tower comes to stand in for the entire church. The roller coaster (to mention another work in the exhibition) rides on grotesquely connected tracks. The parking garage is not fit for purpose. The Colosseum appears undistorted, as if from a postcard by Anno Dazumal. The works are such a source of visual delight that they seemingly need no further explanation. They connect to the viewers’ pictorial memory and continue to evolve alongside it, like the wave shown in the exhibition. However, there is a secondary level that links the works, via these memorized images, with cultural memory and social analysis. On the one hand, there is the motif of the Rhine, who, as Hölderlin says, “slips through Germany’s landscapes/ In silent delight, stilling his longing /With useful labour working the land / As Father Rhine, and nourishing children /In towns that he has founded.” The motif of the quintessential German river dominates a whole series of images, introducing German culture, history, as well as its romanticized interpretation. Spengler’s depiction of a high-rise building next to the Rhine (sometimes on the left, sometimes on the right) is just one of several similar images. A whole series of Rhine pictures features high-rise buildings; in addition to the Collini-Center, there are the Colonia (today: Axa) and the Ringturm in Cologne. They focus not only on the German era during which Spengler came of age but also on the social issues connected to it – especially since the high-rises chosen by Spengler were designed as miniature societies, utopian living machines uniting apartments and offices, cultural centers, and swimming pools, supermarkets and restaurants under one roof. During its existence, the West German Republic was often ridiculed by Helmut Kohl and the civil servant heirs of 1968 as a state with a shopkeeper’s mentality and as a collection of “fat provinces caught between carnivals and grape harvests, decked out with butcher shops and boutiques, as oversaturated as it is frightened.” Forty years later, in the light of Hartz IV and a never-ending wave of smaller and larger crises, the picture is changing: much of what was sneered at back then is now regarded as a much-missed civilizational achievement. Spengler’s works allude to this new FRG romanticism without falling prey to it. Their confusing labyrinths, collapsing new buildings, and striking aspects also recall the bizarre and grotesque elements that characterized the FRG: the roadblocks and socialist laws, the open chauvinism, and the plump self-satisfaction. A black romanticism of the West German Republic: FRG Noir. Spengler encourages us to look back into history and from there to the present to ask how we want to live today.“

Martin Spengler studied painting with Karin Kneffel at the Hochschule für Künstler in Bremen, sculpture with Manfred Pernice at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna for a year as part of an Erasmus program, and was a master student and assistant to Karin Kneffel at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich. He has received several awards and prizes, including two studio scholarships from the City of Munich and the Free State of Bavaria since 2012. Since 2005, his works have been on exhibition in museums, institutions and galleries, including the National Gallery in Prague, the Kunsthalle Emden, the Leopold-Hoesch-Museum in Düren and the Gustav-LübckeMuseum in Hamm. Most recently, his works have been included in exhibitions at Museum Bensheim (2021), Museum Heidenheim (2023) and Museum Fürstenfeldbruck (2023). As part of the “papier & klang” festival, works by him can be seen at the Willy Brandt House in Berlin until September 3.

Text : Hans Krestel.

Opening: Thursday, 14. September 2023, 6 pm to 9pm

Exhibition dates: Thursday, 14. September until Saturday, 04. November 2023

To the Gallery



Image caption: Martin Spengler, Collinicenter, 2022, Gesso, graphite and permanent marker on corrugated board, 221 x 41 x 42 cm

Exhibition Martin Spengler – Galerie Kornfeld | Zeitgenössische Kunst in Berlin | Contemporary Art | Ausstellungen Berlin Galerien | ART at Berlin

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