The group exhibition “akkord” combines works on paper and canvas as well as sculpture and video.
Multimedia artist Gülbin Ünlü works with everything from painting, photography and video to performance, music and literature. For her, it is the idea itself that determines the form in which it is realized. If one technique is not enough to implement an idea, it will be used in combination with other techniques. Thus the artist finds her own visual language in each work, which she opens to the viewer through various forms of expression. Ünlü’s artistic versatility can also be experienced in the Galerie Rettberg’s group exhibition “akkord.” In addition to a video piece, the artist presents a new series on paper, created with a technique using printing ink that she developed herself. This process is the result of a long phase of experimentation, which Ünlü developed for her graduate thesis at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts (February 2018). Her thesis was awarded the Erwin and Gisela von Steiner Foundation prize. For this process, the artist uses her own photographs, which she digitally alters. By layering scans of clothing fabrics over the motifs, the photographs acquire an illusionistic structure and colorfulness. Ünlü then prints these designs on individual sheets of paper and assembles them into collages. In the next step, the artist paints over the works with water. The ink liquefies and becomes increasingly detached from its support medium. New colors appear under the individual layers of printed color. Her motifs also become blurred to abstraction and combine to form new compositions. To a certain point, the artist deconstructs the pictorial space, though the silhouettes of individual motifs are still clearly recognizable among the liquefied color forms: effigies of early gods, animals and shadowy faces emerging from a dark, tropical atmosphere. A video piece featuring Ünlü’s dog, Rookie, as the main protagonist, accompanies these works on paper. The dog sits in front of the camera eating an ice cream. Rookie is completely concentrated; she shows no interest in the person opposite her and does not return the glances of those watching her. In contrast to the works on paper, the artist does not rework the video material of her dog. In this way, she succeeds in portraying Rookie as an independent subject that does not attempt to impress those around her. Both this video and the works on paper deal with humans’ ambivalent relationships to animals and nature. The artist questions animals’ contradictory roles of farm animal, food, status symbol and beloved pet. Seemingly with ease, she succeeds in addressing this complex theme in a subtle visual language. Without passing judgement, the piece leaves the viewer a space in which they can explore their own relationships to nature and animals. Gülbin Ünlü repeatedly challenges herself in her art: as a right-handed artist she paints with her left hand, she puts texts for her books through a text generator, and her music becomes a performance. Her work is always a matter of staying in the process, and to avoid falling into any kind of routine. Chance and spontaneity bring energy into her art; they release the subconscious and lead ever onward to new visual ideas.
Timur Lukas’s work begins as soon as his mind is clear. Only then are his powerful color compositions free to unfold over the picture’s surface. From the shoulder and elbow, the artist moves his brush across the canvas without inhibition, and individual forms seem to glide easily into place. The artist works both spontaneously and thoughtfully. By combining variations made up of filigreed lines and coarse brush surfaces, a dynamic is released which is rounded off by his powerful use of color. The works that the artist presents in Galerie Rettberg’s group exhibition akkord have been created since he graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich (February 2018). They are characterized by a combination of powerful yellow and grey tones, which Lukas combines with nuances of black. The artist begins by applying a grey primer, consisting of pigment and chalk coal, on the support medium. Step by step, both carefully thought-out and seemingly spontaneous and uncontrolled brush movements fall into place. For example, the work Perfectly Imperfect (2018, oil on canvas, 190 x 150 cm) begins with an uneven, bright yellow rectangle at the top of the picture. This is surrounded by repetitive black accents in charcoal, oil and pastel. These accents are applied in different thicknesses, which makes them look like impressions of each other, but they have been placed next to each other freehand. They are reminiscent of calligraphic signs that place fine quotes next to the fleeting brush movements. In other works, we recognize concrete words. At first glance, these seem like spontaneous notes, lending these artworks an added linguistic level. Lukas combines powerful colors in both his smaller and his large-format works. These colors do not mix on the primed surface, instead they retain their own spaces. Each color can stand for itself without having to refer to anything else. Sometimes the paint is applied so thinly that it looks like chalk, allowing the underlying background to shine through. In other places, the strokes are so full that individual bristles appear in them. Even in the smallest of forms, this creates an interplay of muted and flickering color. In their combination, they achieve an effect that is at once relaxed and thoughtful, clear and blurred, loud and yet quiet. Timur Lukas explores the relationships between color, form and structure in his art. His works are only completed when it no longer feels right to continue working on them. In addition to the canvases, works which the artist composed using several individual sheets of paper were also created for the akkord exhibition. By so doing, he uses the motif of the picture grid, a motif found in many of his works and one which, above all, serves as a means of orientation in larger works. In comparison, the artworks shown in the Galerie Rettberg are characterized by a more spontaneous arrangement of forms on the support medium. The compositions now seem to float more freely on their foundations, as if we could observe them gradually taking shape.
Sculptor Martin Wöhrl uses motifs from art history, but also from everyday contexts in his work. His artistic practice focuses on questions of space and volume as well as questions of form and surface.
Wöhrl himself cites representatives of the Minimal- and Concrete Art movements as important points of reference. He does not imitate them, however, but expands their reduced visual language with his own personal component to create a network of art-historical references and individual experiences. Martin Wöhrl’s art requires the attentive observation of a given environment; the direct environment becomes his inspiration. The artist often finds his motifs by chance, on the street, or in small details such as door frames or tile patterns that he extracts and puts into new contexts. In Galerie Rettberg’s group exhibition akkord, the artist shows new sculptures in concrete as well as wall works made of pressboard. His sense of space and volume enables him to place these works in a dialogue with the exhibition space. Sometimes even the title of a work can evoke personal associations in the viewer. Martin Wöhrl’s works are mostly created from remnant materials. In a playful process, leftover wood and pressboard is transformed into new image ideas. The amount of material available often determines the size of the work, which requires a compromise in artistic creation. Even if Wöhrl renounces all gesture, his works tell many different stories; material becomes a carrier of meaning. The mold for the free-standing sculpture Gully (2018, concrete) was made from leftover material from the artist’s studio. Wöhrl took the motif for this piece from a construction site in downtown Munich. The free-standing column Glocknerblick (2018, concrete and steel) cites a wooden porch that Wöhrl discovered on a ski hut near Grossglockner mountain: the artist appropriated a twisted and plaited pattern carved there in wood and transcribed it into concrete. In a reduced language of form, he succeeds in referencing traditional carving through sculpture. The mural Untitled (2018, concrete) takes up the material used in the free-standing sculptures Gully and Glocknerblick once again. This is a casting of the inside of old door frames, which are lined up in uneven concrete honeycombs. It is supplemented by works made of coated pressboard, which the artist assembles from repetitive, geometric grids. Martin Wöhrl’s works play with the viewer’s perception; they can be irritating at first, but in some places they also betray a tendency toward humor and nostalgia. The reduced design and rough structure of these works contrast with Galerie Rettberg’s historic interior architecture, as well as with the colorful works on canvas and paper by Timur Lukas and Gülbin Ünlü. Martin Wöhrl studied sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich as a master student of Professor James Reineking. He also studied in Scotland at the Edinburgh College of Art and at the Glasgow School of Art. His works are represented in the collections of the Lenbachhaus in Munich, the Kunstmuseum Bonn and the Neues Museum in Nuremberg. Since 2017, the Museum Villa Stuck Munich has been showing his permanent installation studiolo.