Opening: April 22, 4 - 8 pm
Special opening times/ Gallery Weekend:
Friday April 28 - Sunday April 30, 11 am – 7 pm
Galerie Georg Nothelfer is pleased to present the first solo exhibition of artist Britta Lumer in the Showroom at Grolmanstraße 28. On the occasion of the exhibition, the booklet entitled "This Moment" is published.
In formal terms, the difference between a portrait and a landscape is that a portrait condenses energy and a landscape disperses it. Britta Lumer’s oeuvre spans from self-portraits to cloud studies, but in her new works, we see a kind of meeting between the two: how a human figure, in isolation and across time, becomes something blurry and inconsistent, dissolving in every direction, while being simultaneously maintained within a single image, like the 24 frames that make up a cinematic second in one translucent stack.
This intersection between abstraction and the human figure makes for a particularly potent site for describing the vulnerability and anxiety of existing as an individual in an alienating world. Lumer told me that she likes to work on paper because it is fragile in a way that is very human, relatable, and ink and charcoal because, unlike oil, they do not allow you to go back on yourself; to erase or modify the initial impulse. With ink or charcoal the only option is ‘to go deeper into the black’. Also, ink penetrates the paper differently from watercolour, and once dry, nothing can dislodge it; it is aggressive. And so we might say that there is an inevitable honesty to these materials. They record human existence with all its hesitations and bursts of courage and desire like how a polygraph draws a rickety line out of pulse and blood pressure. It is not possible to hide in them.
In Lumer’s earlier works, she would often begin from personal photographs, meticulously rendering the buildings or people – often herself – she found in them, devoid of their context. Photography is full of estrangement, both physically and temporally. Looking at a photograph it can be difficult to recognise yourself or the scene for how it’s been stylised and flattened. In today’s selfie-culture, perhaps more so than ever, the human subject becomes reduced to its photographic portrait, false though it is. But in those drawings, which predate the concept of the selfie by about a decade, Lumer would exacerbate this alien quality in order to see what of the particularity of a subject, its truth, might be rescued, like trying to rescue a shadow from the sun.
Perhaps we can understand the new portraits on similar terms as attempts to show something closer to reality, something more honest, except she achieves this, not through stylisation, but an intricate interplay of light, movement and figure. She carves a face, as if from out of one of her former cloud studies, by adding fine black lines to the flurry of charcoal, in parts smudged and sanded down, as a way of giving some definition to the chaos that is the present. In that sense, Lumer’s are portraits of the tumultuous junction between being and time, or, as the title of the exhibition states, This Moment. She shows the present as a storm we get lost in, but in which it is possible to find a pair of eyes – some sense of self, however unsteady – to guide us through. ‘I like the idea of a shelter,’ she also said, ‘but even when we think have found one, it is full of the fear of losing it again, or that it will become too narrow’. Here is the self, unsheltered. What normally holds it together is context; the unifying gaze of others, the frame provided by clothes, furniture, architecture, landscape. In Lumer’s latest works, it is alone, and still, as we see, it survives.
Text: Kristian Vistrup Madsen, 2023
Born 1965 in Frankfurt/M, lives and works in Berlin.
Last year she was nominated for the Marianne-Werefkin-Prize.
Her works are in numerous public collections, the SMB Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin, SKD Kupferstichkabinett Dresden, Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz, Agnes Gund Foundation NYC, Deutsche Bank Collection ecc.
She graduated 1996 with a M.F.A., of the Städelschule with Per Kirkeby.
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