Carla Arocha & Stéphane Schraenen + Markus DöbeliRestlessness Preview: Friday, 28 April 2017, 6-9 pm
curated by Ory Dessau
The exhibition Restlessness features a selection of works by Antwerp-based duo Carla Arocha & Stéphane Schraenen, and Lucerne-based artist Markus Döbeli. It does not pretend to outline thematic or stylistic characteristics shared by its artists, but to test how several aspects in the works of Arocha-Schraenen can be stressed, contradicted and reinterpreted when confronted by works of Döbeli. Though the work of Arocha-Schraenen often stems from reality, and resonates contexts of utilized objecthood, architectural intervention and product-design, their practice resists thematic categorization and fixity, establishing its meaning each time anew in accordance to the site and the situation of display. In addition, their practice undermines the notion of subjective style as it is mainly populated by elementary, impersonal geometric shapes, and almost fully assimilated into technological forms of production, devoid of any human intervention. Döbeli’s art practice, however, deconstructs the concepts of theme and style rather differently. His painterly work is fundamentally and radically non-objective, and can never undergo any sort of thematization and signification. It is totally detached from and prevails outside history, depictable reality, and language. As a practice of an abstract painter who works on an architectural scale, Döbeli’s work can be mistakenly associated at first glance with the heritage of action painting, but a closer look will undoubtedly clarify that he is not a gestural painter, quite the contrary. As such, Döbeli’s work suggests an inexhaustible, bi-directional movement between chance and authorship, accident and deliberate effect, reacting to and is determined by the expansion of free-flowing paint under the law of gravity and dispersion.
The title Restlessness seeks to highlight the works on display, as well as the narrative of their unfolding in space, from the point of view of boundlessness, agitation, indeterminacy and transgression. It seeks to direct the viewer’s gaze and attention to how the mirror pieces of Arocha-Schraenen transgress the definition of space, how they stretch and extend the space in which they are installed, while blurring the distinction between inside and outside; how, by incorporating the viewer’s movement and image as their complementary, activating factor, the mirror pieces are in fact an ongoing sequence of appearances and disappearances that situates them, and the duo’s whole body of work in general, beyond the categories of abstract or representational expressions.
The title Restlessness seeks to direct the viewer’s gaze and attention to how the lithographs of Arocha-Schraenen are comprised of circular configurations seen in the midst of growth, in a state of changeability. It seeks to direct the viewer’s gaze and attention to how Döbeli’s paintings force us to face matter and color separately from the confinements of form and shape, to face the chaotic beauty of the paintings’ boundless surfaces, to engage in their undisciplined way of being in-between all phases of matter, to be caught in their purely sensual and unindividuated spatiality.