Malte Zenses – “in tyrannis”


Curated by Judith Grobe
The Kunstverein Nürnberg – Albrecht Dürer Gesellschaft is delighted to present a solo exhibition by Malte Zenses (b. 1987 Solingen, Germany; lives in Berlin) within the frame of the Marianne-Defet-Malerei-Stipendium. In his works, Malte Zenses combines techniques of abstraction with stylistic devices from the fields of graphic design and subcultural semiotics. His creative process is often informed by personal experiences, which he gathers into an archive of drawings in order to transpose them later into his works as abstract codes. Malte Zenses’s artistic practice can therefore also be described as an appropriation, translation and recycling of experienced reality.
Under the title in tyrannis, Malte Zenses presents a series of new works at the Kunstverein, which were created during his stay in Nürnberg as part of the Marianne-Defet-Malerei-Stipendium. The title makes loose reference to the eponymous song by Reinhard Mey from the 1970s and its techno remake by Wolfgang Voigt, co-founder of the Cologne record label Kompakt. The song addresses modern manifestations of ancient tyranny, drawing parallels with actual observations of current events. Malte Zenses takes up this theme at the Kunstverein with the creation of a flexible system of personal, formal and visual reflections that ultimately confront viewers with their own perceptions. A central work in the exhibition is his triptych die Schwimmer, she seems fine (2017). A figure is depicted making various swimming movements on translucent surfaces that seem to flow into one another, with “she seems fine” in large letters along the lower edge of the canvas. The work plays with the image of the sea as a place of leisure and longing, and at the same time recalls experiences bordering between threat and relaxation, limitation and expanse, proximity and distance. The play with varying intensities and proportions of his figures, lines, surfaces, letters and formats highlight Zenses’s dynamic and process-driven approach. Through the abstract deformation and repetition of minimalist arrangements – analogous to the repetitive song structure in Techno music – certain patterns emerge, which continue in further works. For example, a recurring motif are the abstract lines,which only seem to be casually applied to the canvas in black varnish. They serve as hinted routes or traces, which Zenses uses to link each picture to a concrete place he has visited, and which is often the starting point of the respective work. As part of a personal symbolic system, they appear like an artist’s signature and suggest themes of travel and everyday itinerancy.
Complementing his approach uniting the conceptual with the gestural, a preoccupation with the space is another important basis of Malte Zenses’s artistic practice. This is evident in his minimalist sculptures true blue and Verloren (alles) (both 2017), which engage in dialogue with the pictures as fictitious communication partners and further densify the connecting lines established within the space. Their size and materiality are reminiscent of mattresses, which in turn refer to people. The rather fleeting motifs of the pictures thus contrast with two stylized everyday objects that point to one’s own reality while drawing attention to Zenses’s various staging strategies. Similar to the other works in the room, the monochrome sculptures also bear witness to a confrontation with the moment of emptiness and the fragmentary.

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Kunstverein Nürnberg
Albrecht Dürer Gesellschaft
Kressengartenstraße 2
D-90402 Nürnberg