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Opening: Tuesday, 04 April 2006, 7 pm
Exhibition: 05 April - 21 May 2006, daily 11 am - 6 pm
Exhibition spaces of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Schillerplatz 3, 1010 Vienna

© Courtesy Meyer Riegger, Karlsruhe|Uwe Henneken, Der letzte Chouan, 2004   Uwe Henneken, Der letzte Chouan, 2004
© Courtesy Meyer Riegger, Karlsruhe

Curator: Eva Maria Stadler
Artists: Nairy Baghramian, Katja Davar, Uwe Henneken, Kalin Lindena

"A Public Private Mystery Tour" is a journey in pictures across different times and worlds. The Academy of Fine Arts Vienna presents four young artists from London, Hanover, Berlin, and Isfahan who, in their works, explore the potential of art historical references in regard to the contemporary production of pictures.

"A Public Private Mystery Tour" centers on the thin line between private subjective perception and the public objectified interpretation of pictures. As long as a dichotomy between the subjective and the objective, the inside and the outside can still be maintained in this context, the issue in question is that of the motives for viewing together a predominantly Western history of art and an indefinable reservoir of images which is part of an everyday culture also informed by the West. In this respect, the iconography of horror, crime and fantasy cultures constitutes an essential starting point for examining the pictorial program that touches on fundamental themes of our imaginary realms.

© Courtesy Galerie Christian Nagel, Köln/Berlin|Nairy Baghramian, Klappen mit goldenen Zähnen, 2005   Nairy Baghramian, Klappen mit goldenen Zähnen, 2005
© Courtesy Galerie Christian Nagel, Köln/Berlin

In their drawings, paintings, and sculptures, Nairy Baghramian, Katja Davar, Uwe Henneken, and Kalin Lindena are concerned with the pictures that are before the pictures. They are interested in how pictures come about. While one focus is on pictorial traditions which are revised and continued, the other is on how pictures are transformed by looking at them. The work of an English landscape painter of the eighteenth century, who, in search of new, more subtle forms of portrayal, broke with the idealizing representation of his day, may become an "ideal" picture itself. These metamorphoses of pictures, stories, and narratives take place on various levels. A "Gypsy Girl" from the flea market, a painting by Eugène Delacroix, an airbrush work by Frazetta, a Playboy calendar - these and a multitude of other things form the picture bank which is subject to specific iconographies. The potential of a critical approach is crucial for artistic reflections of such banks as it unfolds a field of production for new forms of representation.

© Courtesy Galerie Iris Kadel, Karlsruhe|Katja Davar, Majorities can always be won for the belief in miracles, 2005   Katja Davar, Majorities can always be won for the belief in miracles, 2005
© Courtesy Galerie Iris Kadel, Karlsruhe

That the medium of painting is increasingly used does not appear to be accidental. Compared with documentary and reality-related approaches, painting is better suited to clearly open up a field of imagination. Just a few brushstrokes often suffice to activate a reservoir of pictures that already exist in the viewer. In contrast to film cuts and establishing shots, which have a similar potential, the access to each individual picture bank is no linear process, no string of seen pictures - looking itself turns into a formative act rather. Iconographic or stylistic fragments outline the formal and material-specific features of a trail.

Uwe Henneken (born in 1974) refers to several pictorial sources in his work which he relies on for creating new pictures. What strikes us is that his way of painting, often rich in ruptures, refers us to the changes and shifts in the history of reception. The artist portrays himself in the pose of Courbet's "L'homme blessé," for example, in garish, exaggerated colors. Henneken calls his picture "The Last Chouan," which, in allusion to the Breton women's counterrevolution towards the end of the eighteenth century, means "The Last Insurgent." But Henneken not only plays with the contradictory character of historiographies in the title, the contradictoriness also pervades his way of painting. Deciding for a style that in its hyperbole almost acquires the character of a comic-strip, the artist quotes Courbet's world-famous painting transformed by innumerable reproductions in the form of catalogue illustrations, picture postcards, and posters, and paints it as the product of his mediatization.

© Courtesy Meyer Riegger, Karlsruhe|Uwe Henneken: With cold heart and bloody hand they rule the european land, 2004   Uwe Henneken: With cold heart and bloody hand they rule the european land, 2004
© Courtesy Meyer Riegger, Karlsruhe

The sculptures by Nairy Baghramian (born in 1971) are situational spatial arrangements. An amorphous metal gauze shape held by a delicate plastic hand, a mysterious form which is hidden behind a wall and can only be seen in a mirror, or a structure of interlocking wall elements that clears a path for itself across a room. Contrary to a minimalist understanding of presence emptying the object and focusing the attention on the viewer's movement through the room, Nairy Baghramian uses a very special language of forms and materials observed like stage directions. Materials such as porcelain, brass, printed fabrics, or glittering gauze, as well as graphic expressions in titles like "Tearoom" or "The Fourth Wall. Two Female Protagonists" are rich entities of selected reference systems charged by their respective history.

"The earth trembles and totters; the sea foams; ships dash together; houses fall in, and over them churches and towers; the royal palace is in part swallowed by the waters; the bursting land seems to vomit flames, since smoke and fire are seen everywhere amid the ruins." Goethe's description of the earthquake of Lisbon conveys a powerful picture of this natural disaster in the year 1755. It is less a factual account than a literary, condensed description of a calamity transcending specific times and catastrophes. For her pictures of oil rig fires, Katja Davar (born in 1968) takes up conventions of representation connected with the iconography of catastrophe paintings. She painterly reworks newspaper photographs of fires in the Scottish North Sea and in Iraq or of the explosion of an oil rig during the Gulf War in 1991 in a tondo that frames the scene like a logogram. Katja Davar dramatizes the topical event in a way reminding us of William Turner's and John Martin's solutions. Billows of smoke tower and disappear in the clouds. Showing monstrous insects fight against each other in a field, Davar unfolds a surreal scenery, a power game for the black gold.

© Courtesy Meyer Riegger, Karlsruhe|Kalin Lindena, Weilen, 2003   Kalin Lindena, Weilen, 2003
© Courtesy Meyer Riegger, Karlsruhe

Nairy Baghramian
born in Isfahan, Iran, in 1971, lives and works in Berlin, Germany.
Solo exhibitions (selection): 2006 "Es ist ausser Haus", Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland | 2005 "Die Geister mögen das Flanieren", Galerie Christian Nagel, Cologne, Germany | 2004 "voluptuous panic", Galerie Christian Nagel, Berlin, Germany.
Group exhibitions (selection): 2006 "Bonanza", Jack Tilton Gallery, New York, USA | 2005/2006 "Time Lines", Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Germany | 2004 "Splendor Geometrik", Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne, Germany. "Villa Romana 2003", Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen, Germany. "Here and Now", Büro Friedrich, Berlin, Germany | 2003 "Hausordnungen", curated by Katharina Menzel, Stadthaus Ulm, Germany | 2002 "Here and Now", Büro Friedrich, Berlin, Germany | 1999 "How is your work going?", curated by Anke Kempkes, Galerie Christian Nagel, Cologne, Germany.
Projects (selection): 2004 Foyer design, Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland, with Julian Göthe.
Texts by Nairy Baghramian: "The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe", by Diedrich Diederichsen, Nairy Baghramian, Adrian Piper, Thomas Demand, Frieze, issue 91, May 2005, p. 110 | "Was machen wir hier?", Roundtable discussion with Nairy Baghramian, Henning Bohl, Christian Flamm, Tine Furler and Thomas Groetz, and Isabelle Graw (chair), Texte zur Kunst, issue 57, March 2005, p. 43-59 | "Der Wahlkippschalter", Spex 01, 1999.

Katja Davar
born in London, England, in 1968, lives and works in Cologne, Germany.
Education: Central Saint Martins School of Art, London, England, Academy of Fine Arts, Düsseldorf, Germany, Academy of Media Arts, Cologne, Germany.
Teaching: 2002?2006 temporary Professor at the Städelschule, Frankfurt, Germany.
Solo exhibitions (selection): 2006 The Drawing Room, London, England. Galerie Otto Schweins, Cologne, Germany | 2005 "Dinner with a Hostage", Galerie Iris Kadel, Karlsruhe, Germany | 2001 "remote host", Städtische Galerie Nordhorn, Germany. "Stars & Stripes", Bonner Kunstverein am August-Macke-Platz, Germany | 1999 !Fuzzy Box (1)", Galerie Marion +Roswitha Fricke, Berlin, Germany.
Group exhibitions (selection): 2006 "mima Offsite: Animated Drawing", Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, Great Britain | 2005 "Harvest Festival", Parkhaus, Düsseldorf, Germany. "Offshore Splinter", Kunsthaus Essen, Schloss Pluschow, Germany. "Videonale 10", Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany | 2004 "Doku/fiction", Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Germany. "Art in the Hinge", Collection of the European Patent Office, Den Haag, The Netherlands | 2002 "Seven Pieces for One Space", Sammlung DaimlerChrysler, Berlin, Germany | 2001 "Post Production", Galleria Continua, San Gimignano, Italy.
Fellowships (selection): Prize of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, for Media Art

Uwe Henneken
born in Paderborn, Germany, in 1974, lives and works in Berlin, Germany.
Education: Staatlichen Akademie der Bildenden Künste Karlsruhe, Germany, Universität der Künste Berlin, Germany.
Solo exhibitions (selection): 2006 "in a foreign land, in a foreign town", Andrew Kreps, New York, USA. "schlemihlium", Galerie Giti Nourbakhsch, Berlin, Germany. "somewhere in europe they wait", The Breeder, Athens, Greece | 2005 "The Still Small Voice", roma roma roma, Rome, Italy | 2004 "Tausend Jahre sind ein Tag", Meyer Riegger Galerie, Karlsruhe, Germany. "The Great in the Small", Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne, Germany.
Group exhibitions (selection): 2005 "Wunschwelten. Neue Romantik in der Kunst der Gegenwart", Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, Germany. "Syzygy", Brett Shaheen Modern & Contemporary Art, Cleveland, Ohio, USA | 2004 "I feel mysterious today", Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art, Lake Worth, Florida, USA. "Gelegenheit und Reue", Grazer Kunstverein, Graz, Austria | 2003 "deutschemalereizweitausenddrei", Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt, Germany. "There's no land but the land (up there is just a sea of possibilities)", Meyer Riegger Galerie, Karlsruhe, Germany. "Dirty Pictures", The Approach, London, England | 2002 "Friede, Freiheit, Freude", Galerie Maschenmode, Berlin, Germany | 2001 "Viva November", Städtische Galerie Wolfsburg, Germany.

Kalin Lindena
born in Hannover, Germany, in 1977, lives and works in Cologne, Germany.
Education: Hochschule für Bildende Künste Braunschweig, Germany.
Solo exhibitions (selection): 2006 Galerie Bleich-Rossi, Vienna, Austria | 2005 "Beim Namen", Meyer Riegger Galerie, Karlsruhe, Germany | 2004 "Find Dich Licht", Galerie Christian Nagel, Cologne, Germany. "wie donnerhall" (with Martin Neumaier), Dépendance, Brussels, Belgium | 2002 "Wir Nennen Einen Berg Nach Dir", Galerie Christian Nagel, Berlin, Germany | 2001 "4th Time Around", Kunstverein Braunschweig, Studiogalerie, Germany.
Group exhibtions (selection): 2006 "Bonanza", Jack Tilton Gallery, New York, USA | 2005 "Stipendiaten 2005 Kunststiftung NRW", Schloss Ringenberg, Hamminkeln, Germany. "gap", Museum voor Moderne Kunst Arnhem, The Netherlands | 2004 "Rhinegold: Art from Cologne", Tate Liverpool, England | 2003 "Kontext, Form, Troja", Secession, Vienna, Austria. "Fünf Deutsche Frauen. Paintings by Maja Körner, Svenja Kreh, Kalin Lindena, Bernadette Mittrup, Gunna Schmidt", selected by Christian Nagel, Jack Tilton/Anna Kustera Gallery, New York, USA. "deutschemalereizweitausenddrei", Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt, Germany | 2002 "Friede, Freiheit, Freude", Galerie Maschenmode, Berlin, Germany | 2001 "Montana Sacra", Circles Nr. 5, ZKM Karlsruhe, Germany.

Revenant Spirits.* Performance and presence in contemporary painting

Thurs 04 May 2006, 2 pm

Welcome address | Stephan Schmidt-Wulffen, Rector of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna
Introductory words | Eva Maria Stadler, Curator
Statements | Ilka Becker, theorist, Universität zu Köln
Sabeth Buchmann, art historian and art critic, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna
Thomas Edlinger, journalist and curator
Clemens Krümmel, art critic, curator and translator
Chair | Stephan Schmidt-Wulffen, Rector of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

On the occasion of the exhibition "A Public Private Mystery Tour," the Academy of Fine Arts has organized a conference titled "Revenant Spirits*." Presenting works by four artists- Nairy Baghramian, Katja Davar, Uwe Henneken, Kalin Lindena-, the show explores the interrelations between trivial pictorial motifs and icons of art history. Activating historical picture material triggers a critical examination of both this material and the contemporary production of pictures. Late Renaissance, Symbolism, Surrealism, or esoteric art? What is at the bottom of these pictorial layers? Does such an approach result in a sampling of different elements of style, or do the overlapping icons hint at an amalgamated perspective, at a gaze wandering through different periods and landscapes of art? The merging of universal and transcendental pictorial solutions conflicts with the medium of painting: the materialization of the picture as re-presentation.

The conference "Revenant Spirits" will analyze these contexts by focusing on issues of presence and performance, of producing and understanding pictures.

* "Revenant Spirits" is the title of an exhibition by the artist Nairy Baghramian, which was on shown in 2005 at the Gallery Christian Nagel, Cologne.

Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne, Germany
Uwe Henneken, Germany
Galerie Iris Kadel, Karlsruhe, Germany
Sammlung Günter Lorenz, Munich, Germany
Meyer Riegger, Karlsruhe, Germany
Galerie Christian Nagel, Cologne/Berlin, Germany
Kunsthalle Recklinghausen, Germany
Gaby und Wilhelm Schürmann, Herzogenrath, Germany
Sammlung Stolitzka, Graz, Austria

Thanks to:

Picture Gallery of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna