Pictorial Spaces

28.11.2021  —

Regionale 22

Tim Bohlender, Anja Braun, Mariejon de Jong-Buijs, Annegret Eisele, Simone Holliger, Sonja Lippuner, Vicent Lo Brutto, Céline Manz, Camillo Paravicini, David Richter, Maja Rieder, Susanne Schwieter, Kathrin Siegrist

An annual group exhibition developed in the context of Regionale, a cross-border cooperation of 19 institutions in Germany, France and Switzerland focusing on local contemporary art production in the three-country region around Basel.

Can painting be a museum, light in space, traces of nature? What role do digital media play in a genre that has — until now — primarily been created through an analog process? How can painting be conceived of differently when it is hardly the classical medium any more, nor are the instruments that are used?

Thirteen artists from the trinational region are working within an artistic genre that has long needed to be broken open — especially conceptually. Painting today, then, is so much more than its recognized definition. The eclectic, large-scale and generally expansive works at the Kunsthaus Baselland bear witness to this.

Through an international perspective on the subject, through artists who work in Switzerland, Germany, and France while representing a lived internationality in the region at the same time, the exhibition provides a multifaceted insight into a persistently vibrant and current medium.

KuratorIn: Ines Goldbach, Ines Tondar

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Tim Bohlender, MONO painting orange rose, 2021; MONO painting mirrored outlines, 2021; MONO painting anthracite ink, 2020; MONO painting pigment brown light pink, 2020; MONO painting ultramarine light grey, 2021. Courtesy the artist; Mariejon de Jong-Buijs, Hopewell Woods, 2020/21. Courtesy the artist. Installation view Kunsthaus Baselland 2021. Photo: Gina Folly

Five small-format panel paintings are hanging on a white wall at the Kunsthaus Baselland. Differently colored surfaces with abstract forms can be discerned. Orange, brown, blue and white, as well as black and silver stand out and invite visitors to explore them in more detail. At first glance, they are only differentiated by color (except for MONO painting mirrored outlines). But if you take a closer look, you will not only see a play of monochromatic color fields, but also different compositions and materialities resulting from it.
In his MONO paintings series, Tim Bohlender (*1987, Kandel, DE) explores the potential of this particular genre by working on the same subject time and again. Instead of using a brush, the artist applies paint with a roller or lets either ink or brown pigment mixed with a binding agent run across the canvas. The paintings owe their resulting surface structure primarily to the process-based manufacturing of their support: the canvases, which are mounted onto cardboard, are primed with many layers and partially painted over so that their original structure can disappear. Their color fields are painted in different ways. This allows the composition to be completely rearranged and typographic details to be placed either in the foreground or background, as well as the alternation of smooth and shiny surfaces, which eventually make the visible and exciting differences between individual images discernible.
As precise and clear as Tim Bohlender’s small-format works may appear at first glance, after prolonged examination they still offer plenty of room for the viewer’s individual interpretations. Ultimately, by employing reduced means, the artist wants to bring us closer to objects that are simple and familiar, encouraging us to think about what (abstract) painting can be in the present day (PH).

The kind of art that you can take with you and exhibit anywhere in the world, no matter where you come from or where you are going, irrespective of space and time. This is how Mariejon de Jong-Buijs (*1970, Waalwijk, NL)— who was born in the Netherlands, lived and worked for a long time in the US and is currently based in Basel—describes her paintings.
At the Kunsthaus Baselland, she is presenting the outdoor project Hopewell Woods as part of Regionale 22. Executed in 2020 in the eponymous New Jersey location in the US, the project consists of five large-format paintings and a photograph showing the artist during the creation of this group of works, thus signalling the importance of the creative process for her practice.
In line with Mariejon de Jong-Buijs’ action art, the five equally sized cotton sheets are part of a broader performance. They were stretched between three trees as a single, 15-meter-long piece of fabric, to which the artist added a personal mark every day for a week during the pandemic. She experimented with different tools, colors, and motions. The result: paint drips and runny circles, as well as strokes revealing traces of particular tools. “My intention is to let the viewer wonder what they’re looking at and what remains hidden,” de Jong-Buijs says.
At the Kunsthaus Baselland, the fabric pieces hang on the wall like pictures. The artist folds her works in one place to unfold them again in another and present them hanging, stacked, or in some other way—a process that is analogous to her life on the road. In so doing, she also plays with a centuries-old genre, asking: what is it that painting can actually be? (PH)

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Anja Braun, Windows, 2021. Courtesy the artist. Installation view Kunsthaus Baselland 2021. Photo: Gina Folly

Anja Braun’s painting practice is primarily interested in seeing, perceiving, and experiencing—and this is what fascinates her about it. As an artist who combines performance and painting, she always integrates the viewer into her work. This concern for an art that operates with a counterpart is also apparent in the series shown at the Kunsthaus Baselland. The Windows, painted with pigments on glass, are fascinating in many ways and reveal what painting can be on different levels.
The Windows fit wonderfully into the space opposite the large window front, enriching it with their play of light, color, reflection, and mirroring. They invite you to approach them, walk around them, look into the room and the other Windows through their transparent glass, and see how the paint on the glass incorporates reflected subjects— including yourself—and makes them part of the work. Through this shift in perspective, the changeable nature of painting as it engages with the surrounding space can be distinctly experienced. No matter from which angle we look at the Windows, new experiences are always revealed to us. If we look straight at the wall, we perceive the colored glass only as a stroke, a layer of paint merely hinted at. It is a view that is only granted to us due to our detachment from the surface. Looking at the painted surface, we witness the individual pigments’ tactile and material qualities; from the other side, we are surprised by the luminosity that the glass unleashes from the pigments. The idea of the window is also taken up in the composition. Here, however, it has a different source than the material’s transparency. The artist has been making drawings of open, overlapping windows on her laptop screen for some time, always transferring the combinations of two sketches onto glass. Through this gesture of transforming a digital source into an analog, painterly visual language, Braun reveals yet another dimension of what painting is capable of being (MS).

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Annegret Eisele, Schilfrohr neben Seegras, 2021; Spuren des Anfangs, 2021; weiss bläht sich das Segel, 2020/21; 2, 2018; nicht neben mir, nicht neben dir, 2021; weit oben am Zenit, 2021; eisblau spiegelt das Wasser, 2021; Moos getränkt in Morgentau, 2020/21. Installation view Kunsthaus Baselland 2021. Photo: Gina Folly

At times dominant or timid, other times wild or gentle, bold or languid, colorful brushstrokes run in diverse ways across Annegret Eisele’s (*1980, Filderstadt, DE) works on paper, some of which are up to one meter in length. In the foyer of the Kunsthaus Baselland, the individual works combine to form a large installation that unfolds a multi-layered narrative world. Their colors, shapes, and lines capture the artist’s impressions and sensations, forming a swarm of snapshots. In her painting, Eisele finds a form of expression—a formal language—in the way she envisions a parallel world out of color, light, and sound structures. Through an abundance of color in its innumerable nuances, she attempts to create a sound space; color also becomes an invitation for the viewer to plunge into this abstracted pictorial world’s elements—or to completely disappear inside them. This abundance of color is enhanced by the invitation to slip into the picture offered by the works’ concise, poetic titles, which attempt to bridge the gap between image, painting, and language.
Prompted by an interest in the poetry and abstraction of everyday life, these works show reminiscences of the inspiration behind them. The artist is particularly fascinated by unusual sights of everyday things—whether these are symbols and signals that have become barely recognizable or legible as such or repairs to house facades that become visible through a slightly different shade of color. She is equally inspired by simple technical constructions, as well as gazing into the distance, natural phenomena, and light. Focusing on the here and now has always played a vital role for Annegret Eisele. In this way, time becomes expanded and intensified, allowing her to slip into a different reality (MS).

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Simone Holliger, Sediment Fundament, 2021. Courtesy the artist and Nicolas Krupp. Installation view Kunsthaus Baselland 2021. Photo: Gina Folly

We can’t help but be surprised by the choice of medium and its effect in particular. Over and over again. Is it metal, cut and welded, or stone that hangs heavily on the wall? Or is it – and can it actually be – paper? But Simone Holliger (*1986, Aarau, CH) is not concerned with provoking confusion. Rather, she chooses a specific material in order to be able to respond as best as possible to the process and to the freedom inherent in making – usually on-site and on the spot. Bodies that stand freely in space or reliefs like the one in the Kunsthaus are built layer-by- layer over a number of days. They grow into and with the space around them. The artist, who works in Basel, responds to space in the way she considers and builds it—its texture, tonal value, smells, temperatures and people. Decisions about color schemes emerge at the end as a logical outcome of this process.
In the actual room, the dimensions of the spatial element alone make it a relevant counterpart, opening up here and there to reveal glimpses of the work, as well as how it was made. This element is sometimes matt, sometimes shiny, at other times soft or sharp-edged. However, it never seems to fully disclose its secret, because the fascination for what spreads out in front of you remains even after prolonged contemplation —and the same goes for the feeling of surprise (IG).

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Sonja Lippuner, Zunge, 2021. Courtesy the artist; Annegret Eisele, einfach immer zugleich, 2018. Installation view Kunsthaus Baselland 2021. Photo: Gina Folly

Sonja Lippuner began her artistic career as a sculptor. Gradually, her focus shifted towards the medium of drawing, which she uses to test the boundaries of installation. By drawing on pieces of cloth that she sets in space, she creates a fluid transition from two- dimensional drawings to installation environments. The creative process itself is very important to the artist. She attributes a major role to taking a step back from the work and looking at the whole from a distance, constantly repositioning oneself, asking: Where do I stand? What dimensions am I working with?
These processes—zooming in and out, always changing positions to adopt new perspectives—are reflected in Sonja Lippuner’s work Zunge at Kunsthaus Baselland. The work resembles a map. Circles and lines sprawl across the foyer, guiding visitors through the start of the exhibition. It is a map of an unknown landscape. But the viewer does not walk through it, rather around it: a map according to which one constantly repositions oneself, and which determines to a certain extent how visitors move across the foyer and into the exhibition. New views are discovered, new perspectives. And yet the work can never really be grasped as a whole. Due to its size and position on the floor, the parts that are farthest from us remain blurred areas on the periphery of our perception (MG).

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Vincent Lo Brutto, Ninfa (I), 2020; Ninfa (II), 2020. Courtesy the artist. Installation view Kunsthaus Baselland 2021. Photo: Gina Folly

White microfiber cloths used for cleaning surfaces; the blue liquid is window cleaner. In narrow display cabinets, the liquid can be seen at different heights. The white cloths slowly soak up the moisture. Time is running: a process that the blue color makes visible. Vincent Lo Brutto’s (*1995, Mulhouse, FR) ’s installations oscillate between the visible and the invisible, presentation and representation. Conservation is indispensable for the survival of art, yet it is kept in the background, never actually being addressed as a subject. Cleaning utensils keep sculptures clean, becoming a part of them. Following a thorough study of conservation and display furniture, the artist has turned them into the main subject of his works. They take their place on pedestals as works in their own right. The functional object becomes the subject, the invisible becomes visible.
Both works’ titles, Ninfa (I) and Ninfa (II), evoke associations with nymphs, the nature deities from Greek and Roman mythology. They live virtually endlessly while remaining eternally young. Time, whose course is so evident in the two sculptures, is irrelevant to nymphs. The white fabric in the showcases recalls their light white robes, oscillating between clothing and nudity. In classical sculpture, the ability to carve folds and the flow of fabric in stone is a testament to technical virtuosity. The drapery motif runs through representations from all periods of art history. The fabrics in Lo Brutto’s work are a tribute to this immortal figure of drapery, which art historians and philosophers, such as Aby Warburg and Georges Didi-Huberman, have called “Ninfa.” (MG)

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Céline Manz, fold; Aubette 63, 2019/20. Courtesy the artist. Installation view Kunsthaus Baselland 2021. Photo: Gina Folly

How do biography, gender, and the handling of estates impact the way women artists from 20th century are seen today? This is one of the central questions that Céline Manz (*1981, Zurich, CH) explores in her work using strategies of appropriation and recontextualization. The work fold; Aubette 63 is a series of neon sculptures dedicated to the artist Sophie Taeuber, who was born in 1889. It was first conceived for Manz’s solo exhibition 9 espaces distincts at Kunsthaus Langenthal in 2020 and has now been expanded to include new elements for Regionale 22.
In 1928, Sophie Taeuber finished her work as site manager on the Aubette leisure center in Strasbourg, for which she collaborated with Hans Arp and Theo van Doesburg. In a room-spanning installation at Kunsthaus Baselland, Manz references the center‘s foyer bar, a space designed by Taeuber. Its initial design, Aubette 63, could not be executed due to a veto by Van Doesburg (“too colorful”). Although it was a collaborative project, van Doesburg repeatedly claimed sole authorship of the Aubette. Manz, who has studied Taeuber’s plans and architectural drawings, counters this effort with a gesture of posthumous reclamation. The artist now transposes Taeuber’s synthesis of architecture and painting into her own formal language, extracting colors and forms from the architectural drawing Aubette 63 and setting them in space as luminous neon sculptures (IT).

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Camillo Paravicini, Ferien in Düsseldorf I, 2021; Pius beim Podologen, 2021; Ferien in Düsseldorf II, 2021; Herakles und der Nemeische Löwe, 2021; Ferien in Düsseldorf III, 2021; The Great Pretender, 2021; Ferien in Düsseldorf IV, 2021; Die Knalltüte, 2021; Ferien in Düsseldorf V, 2021; Black Friday, 2021. Courtesy the artist. Installation view Kunsthaus Baselland 2021. Photo: Gina Folly

We could maybe start like this: Camillo Paravicini (*1987, Poschiavo, CH) is against any form of assertion. Assertions like: This is painting. This isn’t. One
thing is more important than the other. This is worth more than that. And so on. He seems to use the artistic act specifically to find out something and counter these assertions. Small drawings created in a matter of seconds are the starting point for the new series produced at the Kunsthaus. Are they interesting enough to stand
the test of time? In order to answer this question, Paravicini resorts to a complex approach. The drawings are enlarged and, using a kind of painting behind glass technique, are transformed into a painting. Its whole appearance changes from a quick, small-format gesture into that of a seemingly flawless, high-gloss work. You could call it a form of improvement—or perhaps a kind of assertion?
It is entirely fitting that Paravicini is showing newly produced, previously unseen photographs from his archive alongside these now painterly, large-format, “refined” drawings. And it is no coincidence that Paravicini chose the title Ferien in Düsseldorf (Holidays in Düsseldorf). It alludes to the Düsseldorf-based photography class led by Hilla and Bernd Becher and, more specifically, their students. Prominent figures such as Thomas Ruff, Andreas Gursky, and Candida Höfer have become paragons of high-end artistic photography with their large- format, stylized images—most of which were taken in the Ruhr region. Paravicini now consciously turns this perception of values around. He transposes precise photographic compositions into a small format and thus subordinates them in size to the quickly sketched drawings.
In so doing, he keeps his approach both solemn and humorous. Doesn’t a particular photograph also have a painterly quality more than anything else? Does this attribution of genre still make sense today? Or would we possibly give it a different value if the format were to change? High and low are often found in close proximity—in life as in art (IG).

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David Richter, Untitled, 2020; Untitled, 2018; Arcadia, 2021; Red Bather, 2020; Untitled, 2018. Installation view Kunsthaus Baselland 2021. Photo: Gina Folly

David Richter’s (*1988, Basel, CH) paintings explore liminal moments. They oscillate between allusion and reflection, front and rear view, as well as form and negative space. With distant references to works by Etel Adnan, Nicolas Poussin, Tom Thomson, and Joaquín Sorolla, the artist investigates pictorial systems, which he places in a contemporary discourse using a monotype printing technique. The image, transferred with a thin plastic sheet, becomes a membrane that not only interweaves spaces, but also spreads out through them. The usage of both blank spaces and pictorial inversion suggests the paint to have seeped through the linen. This provokes a change in the viewers’ position: they are looking at the work’s reverse—or an idea of it.
Employing strategies of appropriation, as well as affirmation and refusal of the painterly gesture, Richter creates new pictorial spaces by gathering works from the last three years that explore key aspects of this traditional medium (IT).

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Maja Rieder, Mal, 2015. Courtesy the artist and Tony Wuethrich Galerie. Installation view Kunsthaus Baselland 2021. Photo: Gina Folly

To choose a square format means not to determine a direction—neither to the right nor to the left, as would be the case with a rectangular shape. Rather, its strength comes from the center. In Maja Rieder’s (*1979, Solothurn, CH) work, boundaries between painting and drawing also give way to the fundamental openness of her artistic process. I remember pictures taken in her studio: large sheets of paper, only partially unrolled, almost covered the floor in its entirety.
The artist, moving across the room hunched over, held wide brushes, some of which she had made herself. All the generosity that her oversized, painterly drawings exude comes from her masterful gestures: a swift sweeping motion, a precisely executed brushstroke guided by the dimensions of the body, an intuitive choice of color, the skillful steering of paint or tonal values across the pictorial support until it runs out. At times, her papers are stretched wet on a chassis and later removed from it. The act of painting is revealed on the works’ margins, which show the start of lines, X-shaped crosses, or hatching. It is these margins that, at the moment of installation, seem to connect with lines in space like a delicate structure (IG).

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Susanne Schwieter, Shh, 2019. Installation view Kunsthaus Baselland 2021. Photo: Gina Folly

Susanne Schwieter’s (*1971, Basel, CH) sculptural work from her series tongues leaps from the wall into space, where it encounters visitors with a calm balance of color, line, and white space. The shape of the powder- coated aluminum surface suggests the tongue’s position during the act of speaking. Lines sprayed on the wall emphasize the circulatory process of frozen movement, fading into infinity under the metal’s shadow. The artist describes her abstract works as “evolutionary forms.” This is a concept that explores the translation of language into signs via a process-based approach, solidifying ephemeral images as a result.
The work’s title, Shh, also inquires into language’s significance for personal identity and the perceptual and thought structures that come with it. At the same time, we could see it as a description of the moment when language’s limitations become apparent, and color and form show a way out. (IT)

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Kathrin Siegrist, Gartenzentrum, 2021. Courtesy the artist. Installation view Kunsthaus Baselland 2021. Photo: Gina Folly

Kathrin Siegrist (*1984, Basel, CH) is an artist who draws most of her inspiration from collaborative and transdisciplinary practices. Exchange, discursive elements, and communication are of vital importance to her artistic work and allow her to create a dialogue between the individual and the collective through painting.
The curtain exhibited at the Kunsthaus is also the result of a collaboration between several agents. Its installation during Regionale 22 and the accompanying text are meant to act as the remnant or documentation of the Gartenzentrum, where clear definitions of what constitutes an artwork no longer apply.
During lockdown at the beginning of the year, when cultural institutions had to close their doors due to the pandemic but garden centers were not affected by these restrictions, Siegrist transformed her studio precisely into the latter. Cultural exchange persisted on a small scale in this space, whereas it was no longer possible in traditional institutions. In this context, the curtain was conceived as a site- specific work: as a display, a spatial object that is functional, decorative, and performative—a painting that creates a (social) space. It is soft and mobile; the curtains’ fabric is reminiscent of traditional pictorial supports. The organic and synthetic fabrics, which originally occupied the space from floor to ceiling, convey warmth and security through their materiality and colorful palette. They invite us to approach the work so as to experience textile painting on different levels (MS).