`What is always necessary is drawing, and whether you do it directly with a brush or with something else, like a pen – you never draw enough.´ (Vincent van Gogh)
Hamish Morrison Galerie is very pleased to present its third solo exhibition by the young Russian artist Andrey Klassen (born in 1984), entitled `Wenn ich nicht zu Hause bin´ (When I’m Not at Home) in its space on Friedrichstraße in Berlin.
In his most recent works, Andrey Klassen once again demonstrates the endless variety of ink painting. The fascination lies not alone in the artist’s astonishing technical skill. Klassen moves ably through various sceneries whose content seems to us sometimes dream-like, surreal, fairytale-like, borrowed from art history, or even from everyday life. This broad spectrum in terms of content stands in contrast to Klassen’s formal concentration. He works almost exclusively with black ink on paper, and only very rarely do we find any colour in his visual worlds.
In his virtuoso brush drawings, Klassen uses a medium that has always embodied the connection between painting and drawing that can be traced back to a centuries-old tradition, all the way to its origin in Eastern Asia. While the artist of a Japanese ink drawing aims at expressing a motif’s inner content, its very essence, Klassen creates, in a completely different way, seemingly endless narrative spaces.
In the work that also lends its title to the exhibition, we encounter a circle of ingeniously executed figures that seem to come forth ‘when I’m not at home’. Layers upon layers of black ink form such condensed fields of ink in places that the black assumes a silvery glint, and the figures seem to transform: depending on our standpoint, every time we gaze at the work we can recognise new things that had been hidden before.
Let us turn to the quiet melancholia of `Verschwinden´ (Disappearance). Almost like in the theatre, as if echeloned by stage backdrops, the scene opens. But can we be certain whether we are seeing foregrounds or backgrounds? Are we ourselves witnesses to the events, standing on the stairs, or are there just several layers of shadows?
When we examine the works by this artist, we often get a sense of something familiar, of recognition: have we seen this before? Or read about or dreamt it? It is as if we can feel the appearances and states of being presented to us by Klassen, as if they were born of a collective subconscious.
Whether we are in a bar reminiscent of a church – or in a church space reminiscent of a bar? – in `Helden der Unterwelt´ (Heroes of the Underworld) we are surprised by the deep perspective that the artist creates through black ink alone, and in `Schwindel´ (Vertigo) we wonder where we are, what we see, what we can hold on to…
In a masterly way, Klassen again and again succeeds in captivating and pulling us into his drawings. And thus we are seduced into leaving our normal and familiar reality –whenever we are not at home.
Andrey Klassen was born in 1984 in the Siberian city Irkutsk in Russia. From 2005 to 2010, he studied at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Dresden, and currently he is a Meisterschüler with Prof. Ralf Kerbach. In 2009, he received a DAAD prize for outstanding achievements. Klassen has already participated in numerous exhibitions in Russia, as well as in Germany, Austria, and Spain. His work is represented in renowned collections, both in the US and Europe. On the occasion of his second solo exhibition last year, the catalogue `Café Raduga was published. Andrey Klassen lives and works in Dresden.