The exhibition “Volume 3” shows works by Munich-based artists Caro Jost, Irina Ojovan and Benjamin Bergmann and is also the gallery’s third exhibition. The works shown here deal with the theme of space. While the artist Caro Jost captures the past of a place, Irina Ojovan creates pictorial spaces that do not require perspective. Benjamin Bergmann isolates everyday objects from their familiar surroundings and places them in a new context.
Caro Jost’s “Streetprints” are actually real prints of traces that have inscribed themselves in sidewalks and streets over the course of time. For this purpose, the artist has been systematically traveling to major cities such as New York, Berlin, Moscow, and Hong Kong for over 15 years. The exact sites of action are selected according to certain criteria, such as their significance for history and art history or a personal connection of Jost to the respective location. Once the location has been found, often after extensive research, Caro Jost takes an imprint of the road surface exactly there with a specially prepared canvas, whose cracks and furrows produce the composition on the canvas. This imprint captures all the traces that people have left there over the course of time: hasty or slow footsteps of passers-by and residents, skid marks of car tires, movements of the big city. For individual series of works, Jost subsequently covers the white streetprints with intense colors (usually black or red) or photographs and film stills that she herself took at the respective location. Often one discovers in her works newspaper articles from the day the print was made. Place and date also form the titles of her works. They trigger a series of associations and feelings in the viewer. What might have happened on this street, earlier or on this very day? Each of Caro Jost’s works holds an arsenal of stories and forms a counterpoint to the fast pace of the world. While the viewer is confronted daily with a flood of images and stimuli, Jost invites us to linger in front of her paintings. In the current exhibition at Galerie von Rettberg, Caro Jost shows various 2-meter-long linear steles from the series “Babalu”. They are streetprints of her Munich studio floor, painterly complemented with geometric structures reminiscent of Manhattan’s street grid.
Irina Ojovan’s works are characterized by a subtle yet definite use of color tones. The color exists only for itself: It does not have to subordinate itself to narrative or figurative forms and lines, and is liberated from the structure of the brush, its movement and ductus. The individual, often soft hues do not impose themselves on the viewer, allowing the image to unfold only upon close inspection. At the beginning of each work, the artist selects the color and controls its arrangement in the surface, then later leaves it to its own devices. This approach is what the artist herself calls “controlled freedom.” Gradually, she applies each layer of paint, creating a pictorial space that requires no representational perspective. In some works, the artist allows the viewer a glimpse of the underlying layers through a kind of envelope. Often she still leaves pencil lines, which perhaps stand for unfinished pictorial ideas and will only be completed in the next work. For her, Ojovan’s paintings are manifestations of her own thoughts and associations that point to the unspoken in life.
In his sculptural works Benjamin Bergmann deals with the ambiguity of everyday objects. These are isolated from their familiar surroundings, slightly altered and placed in a new context. In this way, the artist succeeds in irritating the viewer’s imagination and opening up new dimensions of familiar things. The artist achieves this irritation not only by isolating the objects, but also by using unexpected materials, such as bread made of plaster or ropes made of brass. In his bronze “panel paintings,” wind and weather become visible, inscribed in the wood over time. Both in large installations and in smaller, sculptural works, stage-like situations emerge. Bergmann deliberately leaves the works open to interpretation, so that they remain accessible to the viewer from a wide variety of perspectives. The interpretation thus takes place in the imaginary world of the viewer, who must finish telling the story of the pictures: Where, for example, does the rope lead in the work “Help from Above”? Does it really bring the longed-for salvation? As is so often the case, the big question here is “What if?” Before studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, Bergmann trained as a wood sculptor. This training is still noticeable in many of his works today, such as in the sculptural treatment of space and volume and their alteration through the addition and removal of material. Benjamin Bergmann directs the viewer’s gaze to the familiar things and processes of everyday life. The coincidence and the unfinished are thereby program, the beauty lies in the imperfect. His works consciously radiate an unfinished character. They appear fragile and unstable and remind us of the fragility of our own patterns of expectation.