Andrey Klassen, Café Raduga
Opening: Friday, 4th November, 2011, 6pm
Exhibition Dates: Friday, 4th November – Saturday, 17th December,
Hamish Morrison Galerie is very pleased to present Café Raduga, the second solo show by Russian artist Andrey Klassen.
Andrey Klassen, born in 1984, works almost exclusively with ink on paper, moving between drawing and painting. His colours are endless shades between black and white. The artist’s primary interest is to breathe life into his stories. Apparently effortlessly, he subjects a wide range of different ink techniques to this goal. With great ease, Klassen finds the right shades of grey for his varied scenes, playing virtuosically with different perspectives, submerging his figures and creatures sometimes into darkness, sometimes into a half-shadow, or bathing them in light. Even abstract compositions, following a certain dream logic, are easily integrated into his works.
The creatures and situations that Klassen creates are drawn from a wide range of sources: mythology, film, literature, fairytales, the everyday, art history, nature, religions, and not least amorous entanglements. He succeeds in representing the variety and confusion of life without interpreting or analysing. His works communicate a tragic but humorous embodiment of the Flaubertian ‘past that plagues us, a present that eludes us, and a future that remains uncertain’.
The artist himself occasionally appears in his works, sometimes as a small marginal figure looking onto the scene (Puschka-Igruschka) or as a masked hero (Nie wieder allein sein) or as one of his giants who seems to control the situation, or who, having grown too large for his own world, seeks to protect it lovingly (Im ruhigen See).
The narratives are bound to generally understood signs – signs that, even when reduced to a few lines or dissolved in planes, remain recognisable and identifiable to most. They are, however encoded, characterised by the desire to communicate. In this respect, Klassen’s works are remarkable in two respects. He undertakes the now rather rare attempt to share something with us; the beholder is important to him, he wants to be read. His technique is a means to an end, not an end in itself. At the same time he is well aware of the fact that generally understood signs hardly exist anymore. It is not only cultural and social differences as well as generational codes of signification that determine the legibility of works of art and texts, but also the general and permanent availability of signs and images from various areas and epochs. A tower of Babel of signs and words, a tangle of various levels of knowledge and memory characterises the current art reception.
Klassen’s ink drawings reflect this chaos and at the same time ignore it. Unperturbed, he tells us his stories (and ours); he seduces us, lures us, and takes us into his encoded, surreal world, where we realise with a mixture of horror and pleasure that what it is about – has always been and will always be – is the same large and small topics of life, and that we will never tire of encountering them in new stories, and take them on, maybe as Batman, a spirit of the woods, or even as ourselves.
The freedom with which Klassen chooses his sources and motifs achieves its fascinating effect not least through the self-limitation to which he subjects himself in choosing how to proceed. He tells his stories in black and white. Just as when we watch a black-and-white film, we remember the colours by their specific shade of grey, in Klassen’s works we also recognise every colour, every nuance of light by the specific shade of grey that only a particular colour can have. We are aware of the colour without being distracted by it. Just as we are aware, if we allow ourselves to open up to them, of the eternal themes of his poetic and eventful images, without allowing ourselves to be distracted by the labyrinths, which nonetheless enchant us.
Andrey Klassen was born in 1984 in the Siberian city of Irkutsk. From 2005 to 2010, he was a student at Dresden’s Hochschule für Bildende Künste. Currently he is studying with Ralf Kerbach as master class student. In 2009, he received the German Academic Exchange Service Award for Outstanding Achievements. Despite his youth, he already has held numerous exhibitions in his home country, including a solo show at the Regional Arts Museum of Irkutsk in 2007. His works are already part of notable collections in Europe and the US. This is his second solo show in Berlin. Andrey Klassen lives and works in Dresden.
A Catalogue will also be published in conjunction with the exhibition.