For her first solo exhibition at ZÜRCHER STUDIO, Katharina Ziemke is expressing – with formidable effectiveness and an extreme degree of simplicity in the means she employs – certain realities of our age, right up to the latest developments. She is also revisiting some aspects of the Cold War (see her recent catalogue Haut-Karabakh (“Nagorno-Karabakh”), which looked at that distant region of the southern Caucasus). She does not, however, share the world’s obsession with “events” – what interests her, rather, are the circumstances in which they take place. The faces are immobile, like chilled, mummified witnesses, reduced to silence. Ziemke’s universe is riddled with impacts and strewn with corpses. There are burials, and animal carcases rotting in the desert or floating in a canal. Her paintings are framed like stills from a silent film .
This type of pictorial treatment, which gives things an “enamelled” appearance, is the result of a precise intention. As Christian Weikop put it in the catalogue : “I was struck by Ziemke’s extraordinary painted figures on canvas that recall the kitschy porcelain statuettes from Saxony (Meissen) that have provided the artist with an unusual source of inspiration.(…) In Ziemke’s parallel universe, something organic that ought to be vaporous, viscous, ruffled or flowing, is depicted as solid and glazed.” In a recent painting such as Hawaian Landscape (2009), the explosive lava has a glossy garnet hue against a mauve sky.
Katharina Ziemke carries out a double displacement of reality as it is depicted in documentary images (the press, photographs, the Internet, etc.). As Weikop pointed out: “She uses black and white rather than colour images because she does not want her transformative artistic vision to be in any way pre-determined.” They are broken up – sampled – then placed in a world that is without antecedents, though in certain respects it does recall the strange, slightly cruel atmosphere of the Grimm brothers’ tales. What interests Ziemke is not so much humans as their attitudes, not so much stories as their contexts – and above all the indices, however derisory, of the successive steps that take a civilisation from a given historical era through to our own. B.Z.
- 05.11.2009 - 07.12.2009|