Exhibition | Backstage: die Rückseite | the rear side | Contemporary Art at Thomas Rehbein Galerie | Köln (Cologne) | Art Week

Backstage: die Rückseite | the rear side

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Saturday, 26 May 2018 to Saturday, 7 July 2018
Friday, 25 May 2018 -
6:00pm to 9:00pm

The rear of the “Barberini Faun” (Drunken Satyr) in the Glyptothek in Munich is rough because it was originally attached to a garden wall. The satyr is asleep and presumably drunk. His legs are splayed open wide and he is unembarrassed to reveal his manhood. In the prude 19thcentury, museum custodians would guide ladies past the shocking front to the rear side: there, barely visible, a little tail peeps out: Thank goodness, it’s an animal! The front of the artwork conjures up illusions (a well-proportioned young man), while the concealed rear reveals the truth (an animal). In the context of theater, we use the word ‘backstage’ to describe what happens behind the stage. It is here – hidden from public view – that we find the technical equipment that enables the play to take place on the stage. These are the non-aesthetic conditions for work. On the stage we have the entrancing diva, backstage the untidy dressing table, etc. The Centre Pompidou has no façade, no front side. You look directly into the insides of Renzo Piano’s building: pipes, cables, bracing. What you see is not the mask that traditionally fronts a building, but rather what it normally hides, namely the technical structure. In front – the brilliant product, behind – the conditions and traces of work: with pictures the stretchers, the frame, the mounting, stickers, information on the exhibition venues – the rear, which Antwerp-born Cornelius Gijsbrechts painted as a still life as early as 1670.

About our exhibition: William Anastasi(US) has the outlines of a rectangle incised on the gallery’s wall with, inside the shape, the paint removed down to the masonry, the rear. John Beech(US) uses the rear side of a picture as the front side. Rob Scholte(NL) takes embroidered pictures found at flea markets, which Dutch housewives fashioned using patterns by Vermeer, Rembrandt and so on, turns them over, signs the back and exhibits them. All that you now see are threads hanging down, which viewed from up close form undefined patches of color, but from a certain distance reveal the image – as in an Impressionist painting. Charlotte Posenenske’s(G) Square Tubes, stereometric hollow bodies of sheet steel, provide a view of their interior. The white on Cécile Dupaquier’s (F)panel painting is scrubbed through down to the base of the picture. Similarly, Michael Reiter’s (G) objects show the front and rear at the same time – as do the large loops in Kirstin Arndt’s (G) mesh work -  recalling the famous Moebius strip. On Franziska Reinbothe’s (G) picture the frame shimmers through the canvas. Willy de Sauter’s (B) work emphasizes the rough sides normally hidden beneath the frame. Gerwald Rockenschaub’s (A) work shows the large screw with which it is attached to the wall, unashamedly in the middle of the front.In Martina Wolf’s (G) video work the cardboard lid of a fast-food container suspended on a thread turns, alternately revealing its dull front coating and the aluminum-coated inside, on which the space behind the camera appears vaguely.

All the exhibited works by international artists spanning several generations follow in the tradition of the Enlightenment inasmuch as they reveal what is otherwise hidden – the opposite of intended mannerist mysteriousness.                                                                                        

(Burkhard Brunn)

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Aachener Str. 5

50674 Köln

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