Over de expositie
Volker Hüller’s work invites associations from the viewer that range from citing Expressionism, Modernism, to Bauhaus, to Cubist influences, especially in an age when art historical images have never been so accessible for the spectator to project on a work. While Volker himself states that influences from art history dating back to the turn of the 20th century are “a good farmer’s market to get some ingredients for your stew”, it is actually not quite so singular, as observed by Daniel Kunitz when he writes: “.. it is not the reference to motifs or characteristic traits of style but much more the search for solutions to the problems concerning Hüller in his pictures; the tension between abstraction and figuration, as well as the treatment of a pictures surface.”
The treatment of the surface is of especial importance in Hüller’s work. At a very early stage he starts adding various materials to the ground of his paintings and they have various functions; they change the surface, but also influence the composition, undermining the more literal shapes and painted forms, or are used to reinforce the more formal linear structure of a work.
Paintings are often filled with a rich narrative of various motifs at the start, only to be reduced again and again while the painting progresses (see for example ‘Grosses Tennis‘, 2016 with the concentration on the build up lines). The etchings on the other hand are the perfect antidote to the paintings as they retain much of their original ‘input’ allowing the viewer to immerse into a humorous world filled with scattered storylines that touch on such diverse subjects as beauty, nature, angst, decoration and orgies melting and circling in hand painted abstraction.
The title L.I.T.S. Homo Naledi refers to two works from this show. ‘L.I.T.S.’ refers to an ongoing series of large-scale etchings titled ‘Lost in The Stars‘, however it also stands for the chat acronym ‘Life is too Short’. ‘Homo Naledi’ refers to the clay sculpture in the exhibition titled ‘Manmade man made out of clay‘. Hüller based this work on a newspaper photograph of the recently discovered Homo Naledi skeletons. The clay sculptures emerged out of Hüller’s practice as a painter and clay elements are for the first time incorporated into some of the new paintings, see for example ‘Wall II’, 2016 (illustrated above) which can be viewed as a comical reference to Gerhard Richter’s color chart paintings from the early ’70s. Depicted is a wall with two clay hands hanging over the side; is this the artist trying to escape his own German art historical reference?
Another clay bust, separate from the Homo Naledi sculpture, is a familiar character from previous Hüller exhibitions. Is this figurative bust an actor from one of the paintings, or a viewer of the works, just like us?
Additional sculptures are made from car tires with their rims remade in clay, as well as a found muffler that has been re-made in clay and painted with oil, varnish and added pigments: everyday objects that entered Hüller’s visual landscape when he moved to New York and found a studio surrounded by auto repair shops in Brooklyn. He sees a strange relation between them and the large paintings with stripes featured in the exhibition; the material used in these works; silk versus industrial spray paint invokes a similar sensibility to the artist as does the clay rim against the rubber of the tires; loosely based elements that together build up the complicated compositions and multi-faceted backgrounds of Hüller’s work.
About the artist
Volker Hüller was born in 1976 in Forchheim, Germany and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He studied under the late Norbert Schwontkowski at the Academy of Fine Arts, Hamburg. Volker Hüller’s work is exhibited extensively both in Europe and in the US. Hüller’s work is included in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, NY, and the Israel Museum. His exhibitions include solo shows at Timothy Taylor, London (2010, 2013); Produzentengalerie, Hamburg (2009, 2012); Eleven Rivington, NY (2009, 2011, 2013, 2016); GRIMM, Amsterdam (2009, 2011); and group shows at Museum Weserburg, Bremen, Nicelle Beauchene, NY; Saatchi Gallery, London; and the Falckenberg Collection, Hamburg.