until 27.05.| #3860ARTatBerlin | Laura Mars Gallery shows on 22. April 2023 (Opening: 21.04.) the exhibition City upon two hills of the artist Thomas Ravens.
Thomas Ravens, known for his complex symbolic landscapes on paper, will show some works on canvas, including the monumental painting “City upon two hills.” This was already shown in 2020 in the exhibition “Features” at the Museum Nikolaikirche, where due to the COVID lockdown it was, however, only rarely actually on view.
The painting constitutes a brilliant design dealing with urbanism in contemporary Berlin. Ostensibly dystopian, it refers to Berlin’s eternal dual character: East and West, monarchy and society, city and state, etc.
In a cityscape of the near future, two embankments can be seen. On each, a light box, a source of “utopian inflow.” One is dedicated to the (once again destroyed) Humboldt Building, a resurrected symbol of absolutism, the other to a laid-down facade of the demolished Palace of the Republic, which in a general sense stands for corporate concepts. Between the boxes grow point-blocks and volume studies dreamed up by the real estate industry. The Haus des Lehrers disappears in canyons, and “the city as a sociotope falls by the wayside.” (Christiane Meixner, “Wimmelbild Berlin,” Tagesspiegel, 10/26/2020)
For this work, Ravens has developed a technique of ‘large collage’; he continues to draw and construct on paper and assembles the pieces into large pandemoniums on canvas.
In other works, he explores the genre and tradition of landscape painting, examining its inadequacy as well as its effectiveness in the era of globalization and man’s reshaping of the earth’s geological makeup.
Thomas Ravens, untitled (sketchbook), #12, 2023
Ravens hits the dunes, deliberately straying away from the big beach party of the Netflix dystopias that let eschatology play out in the boob tube while a real catastrophe is unfolding outside. Here, a few steps from the beach, the abused earth becomes visible after the summer’s devastating fire – desecrated terrain, parched or muddy, and deeply exploited. Some of it has already been cleaned up; paths have been laid out; new buildings have been erected. Here and there, the ruins of past utopian designs are still visible.
Ravens originally hails from the Ruhr area, a metropolitan region. The sad, enclosed industrial landscape impacted by structural change is part of his pictorial DNA: the repurposed industrial buildings, the artificial lakes, the amusement parks on spoil heaps, the flashy new business parks… But his images are also grounded in tradition, the sublime of the landscape, the emotionalism of the genre, and beauty as a promise of happiness.
There will also be a sculptural intervention: Ravens collects photos from newspapers, pictures he associates with landscapes in the broadest sense. In this way, an atlas of images is created that serves as a pool of material and source of ideas for his works. He also sees this process as research on the image of landscape in the “collective consciousness”; here, in the Warburgian sense, pictorial traditions merge with the zeitgeist and contemporary history. By wallpapering parts of the exhibition space with these cutouts, he makes an architectural intervention.
The stream of public images creates a dialogue between the exhibition space and the exhibited works.
Opening: Friday, 21. April 2022 from 7 pm
Exhibition dates: Saturday, 22. April until Saturday, 27. May 2023To the Gallery
Image caption: Thomas Ravens, City upon two hills (draft), 2020
Exhibition Thomas Ravens – Laura Mars Gallery | Zeitgenössische Kunst Berlin | Contemporary Art | Ausstellungen Galerien | ART at Berlin