press release


Representations of landscape have become exceedingly important in European art since the 19th century. In the years following 1800 artists articulated their subjective romantic concepts, which sought to convey artists’ individual sensibility in a vocabulary of landscape – as opposed to the strictly representative veduta. The extent to which such approaches challenged both audience and critics is well illustrated by the debates surrounding Caspar David Friedrich’s art, whose paintings repeatedly polarised the public and as in the case of his Monk by the Sea (1808/10) managed to provoke extreme responses. In this painting as with others, contemporaries could discern something going clearly beyond pure representation of a landscape’s attributes: like no artist before him, Friedrich was able to use the space of the landscape both as a projection-screen for his inner states and as a means for condensing his religious sentiments, his awe of the Creation and what he perceived to be the order of nature into an aesthetic object. The painter, Friedrich argued, shouldn’t just paint what he sees before him, but also what he sees inside himself. If however he doesn’t see anything inside himself, he should also refrain from painting what he sees before him. In a similar manner and a few years earlier, the poet and philosopher Novalis spoke of romanticising the world. This was to be the task of a subject capable of transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary or the finite into the infinite. Romanticising is thus understood as a dialog between inside and outside, between the I and the world. Just a few decades later realism and impressionism – following in the footsteps of outdoor painting – came to conquer all of Europe, but the fascination for the romantic landscape has nonetheless persisted. Even the subsequent technical innovations, above all photography, have not fundamentally challenged or changed it. In an art historical sense there may today no longer by any romanticist art, but what exists nonetheless – as Rüdiger Safranski has rightly observed – is romance itself. For Young European Landscape, curator Uwe Goldenstein has selected a range of works which lend credibility to the hypothesis of romance’s present- day relevance. These works do not primarily look back to or quote wellestablished motifs, and none of the exhibited artists follow the art-historical examples by using glazing techniques or a maulstick. Rather, these works reflect upon the contemporary means of negotiating human conditions and existential issues in images of landscapes – of conveying contemporary conflicts between the outer and inner world, and expressing the harmony and conflict between reason and emotion. In doing so, there is a shift both in the artistic techniques used and the aspects of landscape being singled out. Today a multi-dimensional approach to the landscape theme also comprises aspects such as the manipulation of nature and landscape, since the wilderness has evolved into a concrete jungle. And Wolfgang Welsch has pointed out an even graver issue: after Chernobyl, we are faced with threats in dimensions that our senses are no longer capable of perceiving and gauging. A straightforward representation is thus hardly an adequate artistic response to such a complex reality. In a present marked to the extreme by an intelligence capable of explaining and resolving every possible question and phenomenon in an sobjective manner and with reference to scientific parameters, the artistic pendulum incessantly swings in the opposite direction, pointing to the almost inexplicable and at times even dark areas of our being. In this sense, images of landscape, however familiar they may at first sight appear, can truly challenge and stun us. The farthermost stars, lying beyond the reach of all instruments, writes Lászlo F. Földény, are part of our world by their sheer existence as objects of the imagination, yet there may likewise exist many things in our immediate vicinity which have nothing to do with the world, since we don’t even imagine them. In the moment of a miracle, something actually becomes part of the world that previously didn’t exist and was unimaginable. The works assembled in this exhibition are heterogeneous, ranging from the fascination for the remote night sky above nature to a nocturnal condition corresponding to the darkness of the soul, and unleashing all things suppressed by the control and reason of daytime. To speak with Friedrich, who appears to stand in the background as a sort of invisible godfather, the artists shown here have not only painted what they see before them, but also what they see inside themselves.

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Kurator: Uwe Goldenstein

Künstler: Juan Bejar, Adam Bota, Jozsef Bullas, Szilard Cseke, Konstantin Dery, Peter Hampel, Rene Holz, Chelushkin Kirill, Franziska Klotz, Tibor Iski Kocsis, Adam Magyar, Svatopluk Mikyta, Gabor A. Nagy, Alberto Petro, Jan Ros, Mirjam Siefert, Jean Noel Schramm, Alice Stepanek & Steven Maslin, Anna Szigethy, Horst Waigel, Anne Wölk, Markus Wüste