Galerie Eva Presenhuber is pleased to announce the first solo show of the German painter Monika Baer, born 1964. We will be showing new, large-scale paintings along with drawings and collages on paper.
The Berlin-based artist has for years been building up a surreal, atmospherically charged mystery world in her paintings, a universe in which codes and metaphors suggest complex meaning relations that have a strong power of attraction. The surreal pictorial vocabulary offers a glimpse of an inward life marked by intense experience of fantasy worlds.
The artist’s oeuvre at first sight is grouped in a number of distinct themes, which on closer view are revealed to form a continuous, homogenous development. The “Mozart Series” of 1996/97 is a group of large-scale paintings (up to five metres wide) based on backdrops of the Mozart Marionette Theatre in Salzburg. It was followed, in 1998, by the “white paintings”, large, white-primed canvasses, their centre areas painted with “realistic” figural motifs – a severed pig’s head or Brueghelian people’s faces. The paintings Monika Baer made in 2002 enveloped the viewer in cave-like architectures shot through with lines that recalled electronics or finely-ramified organic veins, with small worlds enclosed in bubbles drifting among them. Most recently, in 2003, the artist showed her “Hunter” series, which featured abstract landscapes with free-floating objects, both real and abstract, weaved into delicate floral ornaments. In parallel with the painting series, she created drawings and collages.
Unter Birken (Under birch trees), on view at Eva Presenhuber, is Monika Baer’s new series of works. She has introduced a new context by fundamentally transforming motifs and gestures.
Large-scale paintings executed in oil, acrylic, Indian ink and watercolour on canvas or cotton lead us into a romantic landscape of fantasy and ruins, which are interspersed, almost floatingly, with representational elements such as birch trees, landscape segments, a death’s head, a Noh mask, a girl’s portrait or women’s faces framed by flowing hair. The delicate technique in which these elements are painted makes them glow like translucent porcelain in the pictorial landscape. The weightlessness of the works is undercut by a veil of melancholy, insecurity or even menace that is suggested by the composition.
The birch trees also figure in the drawings. These landscapes of woods and ruins also have faces or other motives inserted (painted or as collage elements), puzzling the viewer through their composition. In one drawing, the paper, next to a ruin or stone landscape, has been sliced vertically. This intervention alters the whole architecture of the drawing, presenting a new view of the landscape. Another new element is the extended use of extreme light-dark contrast. The show will feature a number of works made in white paint on black paper.
A new world, reminiscent of a film noir set, seems to present itself to the viewer in the collages. Monika Baer takes found images (like pictures of actors Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, or a film star couple from the 1930s) and cuts them out, overpaints them or overpastes them, creating something new that is both startling and attractive to the senses.
At the end of the exhibition Monika Baer presents two works that annul what you have seen before and will question everything. She builds up a suspense that grows more acute and at the end will strike back with violence.
This, then, exemplifies the fascinating approach taken by Monika Baer – to create new worlds out of diverse elements.