Exhibition | Nel Aerts | Joëlle Dubois | William Anthony | Contemporary Art at Thomas Rehbein Galerie | Köln (Cologne) | Art Week

Nel Aerts | Joëlle Dubois | William Anthony

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Saturday, 20 October 2018 to Saturday, 24 November 2018

The human condition, daily routine, problems and hurdles of everyday life, but also issues that arise in our modern and fast-paced society, influence the motives and theme choice of the three artists Nel Aerts, JoëlleDubois and William Anthony. In striking, cartoonish and comic-like images the artists humorously treat themes such as voyeurism, Internet addiction, open-ended sexuality, constant availability, racism, otherness and individuality. Today, longings and dreams are others than twenty years ago. Society has rapidly changed into a digitized, malicious mass, dominated by numerous mundane problems. The past plays just a minor role in the work of the three artists. They focus on the immediate circumstances of the here and now that are subject to their critical consideration and examined in individual ways. However, all are characterised by a reduced, original style. It is the entry into a complex, critical and pointed imagery that thwarts the banality of our society with a smile on the lips.

NEL AERT's striking and flat motifs seem trivial and simple at first, but they also present a receptive challenge. The Belgian artist plays with various materials and media such as drawings, fabrics and their texture. She creates images, installations and sculptures in her work process. Her formal language is reduced and seemingly funny, but underneath the exterior her characters can be lonely and sad, burdened with the challenges of everyday life. The role of man in contemporary art is at the center of her work. Her puzzlement, coupled with the simplicity of the formal language, makes her work particularly exciting and interesting. Figures reminiscent of computer games from the 1980s, cartoon-like depictions of women seated at a bar, suggestive spaces, ornaments on wallpapers and floors, figures made of geometric shapes, simultaneous perspectives - all these elements add to the artist's signature: A mixture of poetry, humor and tragedy, enriched with art-historical references.

JOËLLE DUBOISpaints and illustrates. With a wink she transfers the digital revolution and the resulting role of humans in our modern society into her works. The Gent-born artist is especially interested in the voyeuristic aspect of digitalisation. Social Media Platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat or Youtube, television programs such as Big Brotheror the Bachelorfulfill our desire to anonymously observe others in their suffering, their love life, their failures and also their successes. Digitalisation has made communication faster, more purposeful and interactive. However, this also goes along with the fact that less and less privacy is possible, and that one presents him/herself more openly and more naked to everyone else. Basically communication is increasingly superficial, impersonal and anonymous. Dubois devotes herself with passion to this complex of topics in an ironic and also comical way. She depicts her protagonists in an exposed and unadorned manner, steeped in a drastic realism that often turns out to be very distorted and untrue in the digital world. By showing hairy, obese women and men in compromising positions, she emphasizes her own strong role as an independent and emancipated woman and artist. For all that, Dubois herself is a silent observer, watching the world in her own display of idiosyncratic perfectionism.

WILLIAM ANTHONYcreates his works in a comic-like painting style. Over the years he has developed a unique body of work. Simple shapes covered by seemingly funny figures, which initially hide Anthony's drawing skills. The first glance into the world of the American artist may be disturbing. On closer inspection, however, the wit and the irony with which the artist imbues his works come to the fore. The relationship of persons play a central role in Anthony’s works. In a satirical fashion, quotations from art history and reflections on contemporary social models flow into his pictures. This leads to critical comments on modern life in an increasingly bizarre society. Anthony's works often seem grotesque, insane and obscene, yet they are always overlaid with humor and an ironic view on human existence. The fine satire in the form of comic book painting characterizes Anthony as an inimitable master of black humor

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