In an engaging dialogue between four positions, the group exhibition I ALLIED WITH YOURS focuses on young perspectives on the medium of painting and the transformation of reality through figurative practice.
The artists Sarah Neumann, Hannah Jeong, Boris Saccone, and Jimmy Vuong are united not only by their friendship but also by an insistence on representation. Their figures and landscapes are far from a mimetic realism; rather, they assert their relationship to us and the material reality that surrounds us by invoking the subconscious and its images. The relationship to the real is not so much in the representational character of the works, but in the interstice of image and viewer and the reflexive exchange of the works with each other. Intrinsic to the works as well as in the spatial dialogue, the divergent forms of figuration allow us to reflect on the range of possibilities of how the intangible and vague, such as memories, dreams, feelings, can be manifested on the canvas. An emphasis on the dreams and nightmares, the symbolic and ornamental is juxtaposed with an exploration of familiar places, such as the forest or the domestic space. The evocation of security and safety, a glimpse of human warmth, is abruptly disrupted by isolated figures and objects, which do not seem to find their place in the world. From aggressively-naïve animal settings, whose riddles lead astray, we look at fragmented bodies in dissolution. As different as the motivic and thematic reference points, spatial and figurative relations, or life-world experiences processed in the works may be, their interaction points to common questions of proximity and distance, existence and loss, defensibility and protection. In the confrontation of the diverse painterly explorations, multi-layered contexts and a poetic openness are made possible, reflecting the search for a distinct style and artistic positioning.
In SARAH NEUMANN’s works on paper and canvas, the viewer encounters figures whose essential character is in question: Demon, human, spirit or animal, man, woman, something in between? In their hazy form, they do not occupy perspective spaces, but remain on the rough surface or merge with their environment in the movement of the brushstroke, whereby the ambiguity of the figural is reflected, as it were, in the pictorial space. Sarah Neumann’s ‘disembodied bodies’ are constituted from nightmares and scraps of everyday life and unfold their unsettling effect precisely in the contrast of absurd humor and demonic strangeness.
HANNAH JEONG’s oil paintings can be read as delicate invocations of memories and the subconscious: the feeling of water on the skin, human touch, childlike playfulness, or the fear of growing up. Her organically sinuous figures move in domesticated interior and exterior spaces in which multilayered narratives about bizarre and enigmatic occurrences, intimacy and loneliness, refuge and longing unfold. The principle recognizability of their places and figures functions as a link to the audience, which is lovingly confronted with its own lost past charged with meaning.
At the heart of BORIS SACCONE’s practice is a preoccupation with a nature that has become alien and ominous, and an attempt to penetrate its essence through painting. In his works, the viewer encounters enigmatic animal creatures and alienated figures in forest and meadow settings. Melancholy and associations with the occult are evoked, but also empathy for his creatures, which sometimes move more or less somnambulistically in the picture. Neither in the pictorial space nor through his protagonists is an illusionistic depth and a dramatic storytelling asserted; on the contrary, painting as painting is decidedly emphasized in Saccone’s pictures. This reflection on the medium takes on a historical dimension when one takes a look at the processing of religious motifs, mythology, and cultural and art historical symbolism. The works process and reflect the images that influenced them.
In his works, JIMMY VUONG explores surreal worlds whose spatiality oscillates between the flatness of the canvas and a stage-set-like structure. Although animals, plants, and people inhabit these places, the focus on ornamental forms and framing repeatedly disrupts the impression of illusionistic depth. The bright coloring and encircling of themes such as death and loss create an exciting synthesis of pop and symbolically camouflaged darkness. The convoluted scenes in Vuong’s works challenge viewers to interpret the symbols, trace relations, and keep digging, even if there is no resolution at the end.
I ALLIED WITH YOURS can be understood as an excerpt of the vibrant range of young, figurative practice and is driven by the idea that artistic productivity can only unfold in mutual exchange, in which we cling to each other with all the friction that arises here.