until 25.04. | #2660ARTatBerlin | 68 projects shows from 24th January 2020 the exhibition DIE LANDSCHAFT FÄNGT AN, WO DER DER MENSCH AUFHÖRT (> THE LANDSCAPE BEGINS WHERE MAN ENDS) with works by the artist Oliver Westerbarkey.
Artists are the spokespeople of our times and can play a crucial role in provoking conversations and challenging the status quo. Throughout history we have seen time and time again an attempt by humankind to control nature, much as depicted in the Baroque gardens of the late-16th century who’s geometric treatment of gardens depicted the power of man over nature. So in 2020 we start our first exhibition at 68projects with Oliver Westerbarkey who instead communicates within his work that nature can exist without humankind, and it is in fact humans who cannot exist without a relation to their surroundings. What Westerbarkey has created, dioramas made of natural materials such as dirt and plants, is an analogue representation much like augmented reality – existing in the physical world wherein what is most alive in the work is actually the most artificial. The experience of real-world environments here is seen through the perceptual distortion of real objects instead of computer-generated perceptual information. Westerbarkey’s works thus both preserve and imitate nature at the same time. They highlight all these little objects in nature we easily overlook, and thus let us meditate on the ecological system at large.
The preservation of the plant parts stand in contrast to the fact that nature indeed never really stands still. The work is neither a true representation of nature nor even a complete falsification. The artistic approach is that of questioning and ambiguity, the truth of the work is within the interpretation of each viewer. The work can take one to a memory of a place or experience of childhood or through its museum quality of diorama invoke the feeling of historical archaeological findings. The word Diorama itself derives from Greek meaning “through that which is seen”. At the beginning of the 20th century the dioramas were the attraction of the first natural history museums. They offered an illusionistic representation of nature and as such a kind of “shining through” to reality, much as these works of Westerbarkey aim to do. The historic essence of preservation is then abruptly broken by the realness of the objects in the preset, deformed and painted over by the artist in added light and shadow. A loosening of traditional ideas of time is sensed as the work sits within the past, present and the visualization of an unknown future.
These works cannot be clearly assigned to classical genres of art or materiality and it is exactly in this tension of non-definability that the work plays on the viewers subconscious. At first glance it seems to be monumental photographs, however, on closer inspection it becomes clear that the work is made of real objects from nature. As writer Claudia Fischer explains, “Within this sudden realisation we lose the certainty of a clear perspective and thus also our customary subject-specific classification. The closer we get, the more we are drawn into the artificial natural scenario. One wants to be a beetle right away, or twig, or blossom- awakening a peculiar sensual desire to become part of these scenarios in some way.” Here is not a foreign or strange place, but instead the feeling of home and the intimate relation to nature expressed through the artist’s elaborate approach and dedication to each and every minute element.
Oliver Westerbarkey was born in Konstanz, Germany in 1969 and studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich after training as a stonemason. From 2002 to 2005 he was a master student of Prof. Prangenberg. Westerbarkey currently lives and works in Munich and has exhibited widely within Germany. Most recently he has exhibited at the Alte Akademie, the Rathausgalerie and in the Haus der Kunst in Munich. In 2018 his solo exhibition POST MODER was presented at the Kunstverein, Rosenheim in Germany. In 2020 he will exhibit at Kösk in Munich and and at the Kunstverein in Ebersberg, Germany due to open January 2021. In 2020 a group exhibition is planned with Galrie Kornfeld in collaboration with the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation Berlin-Brandenburg at the The Orangery Palace (German: Orangerieschloss) in Potsdam. Please do not hesitate to contact Shahane Hakobyan should you wish to interview the artist or receive further press material and images.
Text: Shahane Hakobyan
Vernissage: Friday, 24th January 2020, 6-9 pm
Exhibition period: Friday, 24th January – Saturday, 25th April 2020Zu 68projects
Exhibition Oliver Westerbarkey – 68 projects | Zeitgenössische Kunst – Kunst in Berlin – Exhibitions Berlin Galleries – ART at Berlin