A moment after entering the gallery space, we can hear the sounds of a piano coming from down the hall. Resisting the temptation, we step into the large gallery space, which greets us with an expansive floor installation by Jeewi Lee. To set our imagination in motion, the artist prefers to rely on absence, yet in many of her works the actual “actor” is missing. Such actors can be individuals or an entire circus troupe, but also specific forces such as fire, time, or simply the weather. Jeewi Lee directs our gaze to the marks and traces that remain after the interventions of the actors. An imaginative tension emerges from this play between the absent and the present, which are the “starting and reference points for her material narratives.” Thus, viewing her works is best begun with the concrete material, in our case, the dark gray plain roof tiles lying on the floor. Sun discoloration, moss, and debris suggest that these already had a biography prior to their gallery existence. With her gesture of making a roof visible, Lee not only opens the space metaphorically, but in doing so she also makes visible how the environmental influences have inscribed themselves on the material and turned each tile into a unique painting. Jeewi Lee declares these traces of weathering to be signs of time that are not only image-worthy, but symbolic. On the walls we find an intellectual counterpart to this, but here it is floors as images that are juxtaposed with the roof as a floor painting: New works from the series Past Tense, in which architectural fragments – here parts of floors lined with Hanji paper – have been used. The handmade paper is traditionally used in Korea to cover doors, windows, furniture, and walls, as well as floors. Lee’s floor paintings tell us about their original locations, the events and past time that have inscribed themselves in the material. These have marked the paper and turned it into a unique light drawing – a long-term photogram.
Equally reduced and well-considered in the derivation of forms are the works of Taslima Ahmed, whose work can be located at the interface between digital image production, printing techniques, and painting. At first glance, her canvases seem strangely empty and painterly divergent, so that we initially hold on to motifs: A brushstroke representing the shape of a protein twisted in on itself and containing a reference to the “Junge Wilde” of the 1980s, an impasto gesture on a strangely technical-looking background, and of course the super-realistic-looking iguana, whose tail has left a spray dot – a reference to Stephen Prina? The “source materials” and references of these images of the Reconstructor series are multifaceted yet suggest that they stem from the tension between artificial intelligence and human perception, from a realm of increasingly organic interdependencies between humans and computers. Shortly thereafter, we realize that these works are not classic acrylic or oil paintings but were created using UV printing technology-a technique that allows for haptic surface textures and can also be used to create Braille. Ahmed uses this technique to reconstruct the illusion and haptics of analog painting for her digitally painted works. Ahmed’s reduced but perfect works – whose starting points can be media-theoretical considerations or painting-historical references – show us how thrilling and complex painting can be that is based on the smart use of AI and technology.