A collage by Armin Kehrer is one of 15 works by young German artists being shown at the Michalský dvor Gallery.
photo: Courtesy of Michalský dvor Gallery
One of Bratislava's most important private galleries, large in influence if not in square meters, opened the month of July with a vibrant exhibition of three young German painters born in the 1960's.
The featured trio studied together at the Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart and have since exhibited their work internationally as a team. Apart from their paintings and collages, they also produce some experimental music and literature. Together, they reflect on the modern condition in a way which often blends irony with a chilling sense of the emotional void of the modern age and post-WWII Germany.
The pictures are hung in the small gallery, situated in the cool cellar of an old house with vaulted brick ceilings. Some of the drawings, collages, and paintings attempt to satirise the traditional themes and motifs of German culture. Through the depiction of every day objects, media images, and activities, from Barbie dolls to Hitler to the act of clipping one's nails, others show a world both very real and yet somehow out of reality, a pretty world which is often cold.
In his part of the show, artist Armin Subke introduces a series of small drawings of babies playing an adult role. In one, a portrait of Mickey Mouse with a childish face holds up his arm in the "Hail" sign of Adolf Hitler.
His "photographic realism" technique sheds its subjects in a light so intense that they are nearly robbed of their humanity. Emphasising the difficulty of coming to terms with illness and pain, his paintings of surgical operations sit next to a portrait of a small child getting an injection. In the work, the softness of the boy's face is negated by the harsh colour of the skin and red touch of the muscle when meeting the needle. In their photographic perfection, the paintings explore the difference between "realism" and what we see as true in every day life.
The second artist, Armin Kehreer, has received a stipendium from the Academy of Fine Arts here in Bratislava. He attempts to touch his audience with collages showing Barbie dolls and other objects together with a litter of modern product packaging. Over the collages, he draws female nudes in an extremely unusual way, pointing out though their unseemly positions not the beauty of the body, but its dirtiness.
The last of the three, Hans Pfrommer, is still studying at the Stuttgart Academy. His small drawings satirise his German cultural background, as shown well in a portrait of a young lady carrying glasses of beer while wearing a hat of deer horns and the Holy Cross.
Other paintings are small in size but rich in colour and show ordinary activities like jumping into the water or a couple kissing in water. In others, real personalities like Bill Clinton are presented flatly and without any emotion. The pictures of the sea do not broadcast to the viewer the heat of the summer or the cool, refreshing bite of the water.
Along with staging the best of Slovak, Czech and European fine arts from Slovakia, the Michalský dvor Gallery takes as its mission the staging of young generation art. The Gallery is only one of the hobbies of its two owners, Peter Krasuľa and Juraj Ulický. Both also have jobs in advertising agencies and are involved in a theatre company in Partizánske and theatre workshops. The Gallery also has an art shop of interesting design which sells the work of Slovak artists.
By Soňa Bellušová
with Sharon Otterman
26. Jul 1999 at 0:00