EMERGENT ART FOCUS / FEATURED NOVEMBER 2015
Every month GOLDHURST chooses artists to feature as part of its ongoing support and investigation into the current important developments in art history.
For November 2015 we have to focus on two important artists Stefan Behlau and Dennis Loesch courtesy of dialogue with AM/PM Gallery, London.
Painting as an artistic medium has always been intimately tied to technology and the cultural networks of its application’s age. From how the shifting trade paths of past empires materialized in new pigments, to the development of mass-produced paint in the emerging capitalist market, the materiality of paint has provided art with one of its most consistent vehicles for embodying the changing patterns of perception in time and space. Within the power of paint, there comes a myriad of connections, and the potential for the artists to commit the effect of an age to canvas. To physically paint the ineffable spirit of a moment into existence has allowed the medium to maintain its key role in our understanding of what art is. In the emergence of conceptual work, the process of painting has provided a vehicle to authenticate the creative act whilst dancing boldly on the boundaries of art’s parameters. Yet, even after taking a Yves Klein-like leap from the frst story window, painting has rebuilt itself again and again with new relevance, holding a mirror to how we see art, the world and ourselves. Today, in the wake of this long and honoured history we fnd painting reinvented once again as a method no longer reliant on its physicality to perform. Paint, as part of the fabric of the world, has been freed from materiality, and opened to the entirely new power of representation brought about by the digital age. Painting no longer requires paint to be realized, and as a result can be judged within a context it has long held but not readily been capable of expressing. Painting is the act of image creation itself, and the emerging art of digital painting is a testament to this.
Throughout his career, Dennis Loesch has drawn inspiration from our relationship with images to create works of art. In the past, he has channelled the archival impulse of modern times by expanding on the paradoxes of readily available miniature mass storage devices. These methods of ‘display management’ allow us to compile immense libraries of visual information to exist almost hypothetically as chains of data until activated for consumption on a screen. With Memory Sticks, the artist made selections from his enormous collection of decontextualized content downloaded from the Internet, digital cameras and multimedia messages. Transferring these images to strips of wood and aluminium aligned in succession against gallery walls, the fnal works allude not only to the contemporary eye’s preference for scanning or scrolling, but equally to the digital fles’ unseen existence as sequences of code. Loesch’s fascination with how these digital methods of encounter have altered our experience of the image remains a central component of his practice. In Merge Visible, Loesch’s latest body of work, the conditions of perception through which we understand the world are readdressed via the history and conventions of painting. With characteristic refexivity, he has undertaken a process combining digital and traditional methods to achieve works which cross-examine the connections between art and technology.
Digital painting is an emerging art form, most readily embraced by the design and gaming industries but with powerful implications for contemporary art. The ubiquitous Adobe Suite has actively absorbed and altered the affect and language of fne art, titling its multitude of tools in direct reference to traditional methods. Captured throughout a series of digitized experiments, Loesch produces compositions comprising of interventions with the brush tool on layers of opaque colour. Separately, a primary layer of improvised brush strokes are applied to a canvas in the confnes of the artist’s studio. For the fnal stage of creation, the painting in infused with the digital image through the physical act of feeding the canvas through an ink-jet printer. The fnal works become a literal layering of old and new forms, presenting an ‘IRL’ translation of Photoshop’s Merge Visible application, which ‘combines visible, linked, or adjacent layers into a single layer’.
Rather than seeking to imitate the act of painting, these hybridized Photoshop canvases mark the evolution of painting towards its long-anticipated potential. Framed within the language of art history, the intentions of an advanced form of Clement Greenberg’s ‘post-painterly abstraction’ can be played out in the Merge Visible works. Defned by a commitment to openness, non-gestural execution and the potential for the canvas and stroke to become synonymous, post-painterly abstraction lends its legacy to these compositions. Loesch generates ‘clean outlines and fat, clear colours’ whilst allowing the fabrication of digital effects to attest that ‘the dividing line between the painterly and the linear is by no means a hard and fast one’. The potential for openness envisioned by Greenberg, painting that extends infnitely beyond the canvas through a lucid visual vocabulary of colour and shape can be felt in Loesch’s use of familiar CMYK colour and playful edits. With a computer-mediated process, the abstract is further distilled, fusing the signature of the artist’s hand with the anonymity of the artist’s cursor. Their reproducibility as digital fles provides them with accessibility ad infnitum. Pushing the potential of representation once more, Loesch’s physical fabrication of the works allows the canvas to speak the language of both the present and the past. This new duality of painting is crucial in retaining its historical reputation as a mirror to the zeitgeist. The literal layering of printer ink over paint becomes a refection of computer technology’s role as a flter on how we see the physical world.
A number of Loesch’s contemporaries are also adopting Photoshop as a new form of creative medium capable of de/ reconstructing all that came before. Cory Arcangel’s Gradient Prints with titles such as Photoshop CS: 84 by 66 inches, 300 Dpi, RGB, square pixels, default gradient “Spectrum” (turn reverse off), mousedown y=750 x=1500, mouseup y=750 x=18000 offer the exact method for any audience member to replicate his process on their own PC. In Sam Falls’ experiments with digital landscape photography such as Untitled (blue and pink, Joshua Tree, CA), Photoshop pastel strokes are juxtaposed with ‘the real thing’ and Pantone colours lifted from the image’s pixels are replicated in archival pigment. Further afeld an emerging generation of artists claim animated GIFs, web domains and even virtual reality experiences as contemporary art. These kinds of art, made to be seen solely in the digital realm are emblematic of new forms of consumption. The currency of today’s art world is not restricted to the gallery, but fows freely between the physical and digital realms. Thanks to the internet, the once inaccessible store room of prestigious collections can now be visited virtually 24 hours a day, art collections can be amassed through entirely digital means, and Renaissance Masterpieces are distributed freely on Instagram alongside throwaway memes, treasured memories and work by art’s new generation of makers. Today all forms of visual culture have been largely dematerialized – perhaps a more appropriate word is fattened – by the screen into something immediately and infnitely accessible. Rather than being opposed to the material, today our virtual immersion is as real as the tangible things around us. Digital networks of art exist in parallel to its long held conventions, informing one another in a process of cross-contamination, allowing artists such as Loesch to push the boundaries of time, texture and concept in ways that decipher the radical technological changes of now. Within this environment, the gallery is perhaps a more valuable space than ever, providing much needed contemplation away from the overwhelming sensibilities of global connectivity. With Merge Visible, Loesch has manifested a plane on which the essential qualities of the virtual and the physical are able to entwine, creating a hybridized realm of experience that more truly refects the way our lives are lived today. In a time when it seems every image possible is only a search engine away, painting, understood here as the essence of image creation, becomes more potent than ever. It is exactly because of its extended history of adaptation and experimentation that painting, digital or traditional, becomes a window to examine the rapid evolution of the multiscreen world.
— Rachel Cunningham Clark, September 2015
Dennis Loesch Born: 1979, Frankfurt am Main, Germany Lives and works in Berlin and Los Angeles.
2001–06: Städelschule, Frankfurt am Main
2015 DEF. Dittrich & Schlechtriem, Berlin. 2014 Larry Weekend. Fahrbereitschaft, Berlin. Oskar-von-Miller-Straße-16. David Zwirner, London. 2013 Color Space. Tropen 10, Berlin. 2012 Open as Smart Object. Dittrich & Schlechtriem, Berlin. 2011 Dennis Loesch. Universal Music, Berlin. 5 Frauen. Niklas Schechinger Fine Art, Hamburg. 5 Farben. Moraltarantula #5, Zollamt Oberhafen, Hamburg. The Los Angeles Times. Art Center Los Angeles, Los Angeles. Auto Versicherung. Gallery Anais, Los Angeles. 2010 Backup. Schlechtriem Brothers, Berlin. 2009 Dennis Loesch. Niklas Schechinger Fine Art, Hamburg. Moden/Fashions. Studio Reichenberger, Berlin. 2008 Scans 11/2008. Gallery Niklas Belenius, Stockholm. Dennis Loesch Numerous. Galerie Jan Winkelmann, Berlin. 2007 Neueröffnung Neueröffnung. Galerie Jan Winkelmann, Berlin. 2006 Hallo Moden. Sommer 2006. Gabriele Senn Galerie, Vienna. Hallo Moden. Winter 2005–2006. Oskar-von-Miller- Straße-16, Frankfurt am Main.
2015 Dennis Loesch and James Clar. Lange Straße 31, Frankfurt am Main.
92014 Poster Show. Institut, Berlin. Bilder zwischen den Zeilen. Salon Dahlmann, Berlin. Wet Paint. Dittrich & Schlechtriem, Berlin. 2013 New Works. Dittrich & Schlechtriem, Berlin. 2012 Untitled. Dittrich & Schlechtriem, Berlin. Friends & Lovers in Underground. Willy Brandt Straße 46, Hamburg. 2011 Accrochage. Schlechtriem Brothers, Berlin. Man Ray Paul Klee Claude Monet Scarlett Johansson Ed Ruscha. MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Los Angeles. 2010 Between Black and White. Galerie Karlheinz Meyer, Karlsruhe. Festival des Beaux Arts. Galerie Sabine Knust/ Pinakothek der Moderne, München. 2009 Alle Vöglein sind schon da, alle Vöglein, alle. Callicoon Fine Arts, New York. No Capri for Old Men. MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Los Angeles. On a Clear Day I Can See for Ever. BCM Tilburg. Papiere/Papers. Studio Reichenberger, Berlin. 2008 Karotten und Schweinehals. Deutsche Kunst seit 1995. Kunstverein Oldenburg. Boxer. Literaturhaus Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main. 2007 Der Silberne Koffer. Galerie Montgomery, Berlin. Gorillas im Nebel, Haus Nummer Elf. Frankfurt am Main. It Feels Good. Universal Cube, Spinnerei, Leipzig. Niveaualarm. Kunstraum, Innsbruck. 2006 Rio. Artnews Projects, Berlin. The Graduates. Staedelmuseum, Frankfurt am Main. 2005 Été urbain. Gabriele Senn Galerie, Vienna. Les Grands Spectacles. 120 Jahre Kunst und Massenkultur. Museum der Moderne, Salzburg. The Frieze Art Fair. Kunsthalle Berlin Pankow, Berlin. 2003 Kontext, Form, Troja. Secession, Vinna. Handkäs’ mit Musik. Galerie Hinterkonti, Hamburg.