Sebastian Menzke: Ebenen 
22 February—11 April 2020

With the exhibition »Ebenen« the gallery presents works from the abstract work of the Berlin artist Sebastian Menzke. In more than 20 works an insight into his artistic work on canvas is given, which attracts attention in an abstract variety. Thus, the painting here moves between the poles of the representational and the completely abstract, between conceptual and ultimately ever freer approaches, raising questions about, among other things, the relationship between content and form, hermeneutics and sensual observation in an abstract context.

The compositional rigor of the Daiichi series [from 2015] in particular, in which geometrically arranged lines define form and image design, seems to refer to the background of the artist, who originally studied design with a focus on product design. For the years before his studies, however, Menzke sometimes described himself as a sprayer, later followed by a deeper interest in oil painting. And so his painting also meanders between that style similar to the precisionism of modernism, a style of painting that likes to tie itself back conceptually to concrete content [e.g. the Fukushima catastrophe], and on the other hand works and pictorial locations in which the focus is on the process and the materiality of the colours, in which artistic performance becomes vivid.

In particular, the virtuoso use of color and color values as a compositional means of design is one of the great qualities of his work, regardless of the type of picture in the abstract genre. It becomes a downright syntactic category when one follows his play of planes and surfaces, spatial development and dynamization through color values and sensual color gradients. In terms of content and form, the artist Menzke retains a stylistic openness and thematizes the possibilities of painting by means of textures and in the work on form itself. This becomes clear, for example, in the reference to modern pictorial languages, but above all in the integration of forms from completely different visual systems such as graffiti or the gestural wobbly, restless strokes of digital image processing from Instagram or Photoshop's etching tool. The exhibition thus shows a spectrum of abstract painting: graphic abstraction and geometrically precise formal languages stand alongside painting styles that quote gestures from our current visual culture or, following intuition, explore haptics and a cultivation of colour on the picture surface, leaving the idea of a motif completely behind.
—Philipp Anders
Josef Filipp Galerie   Spinnereistrasse 7, [PF 508]   04179 Leipzig   Germany
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