Wings II at the Deutsche Bank Kunstraum
Angels, eagles, mythical figures: This year's summer exhibition at the Deutsche Bank Kunstraum in Salzburg is devoted to the iconography of the wing in contemporary art.
||Wings is not only the name of the band founded by Paul McCartney and his first wife Linda in the 1970s which aimed to follow in the footsteps of The Beatles. Wings was also the title of an exhibition mounted at Salzburg's Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac this spring focusing on the iconography of the wing in contemporary art. The concentrated presentation of winged beings caused a sensation among press and audience alike, and the participating artists were also thrilled. As a result, the summer exhibition at the Deutsche Bank Kunstraum is featuring an expanded version of the show, with nearly all of the participating artists represented in the Deutsche Bank Collection. On view concurrently with the Salzburg Festspiele, Wings II is again presenting different possibilities of engaging with this complex, "lofty" topic.
Historical-mythological interpretations by Sandro Chia and Mimmo Paladino, who as proponents of the Italian Transavanguardia in the 1980s revived figurative painting with expressive gestures and colors, are juxtaposed with cool technoid versions, such as the wall objects of Gerwald Rockenschaub and Lori Hersberger. While Rockenschaub's untitled work shows geometricized variants of a winged creature, in Early Bird (2006) Lori Hersberger combines mirrored surfaces with gestural smears of paint.
Whether it is Andy Warhol's pre-Pop drawings of cupids, fairies and children in elf costumes from the 1950s, or the jigsaw works with which New York artist Tom Sachs ironically illustrates the animal fable Reynard the Fox, the works show how much the topic of "wings" inspired popular and mass culture as a metaphor for fantasy and freedom. But Marc Brandenburg's ghostly-fine pencil drawings of pigeons flapping their wings show the dark side of everyday urban life. Like his photorealistically portrayed scenes of demonstrators, flag-waving soccer fans, clowns, fairgrounds and water fountains, these works are threatening in a puzzling way. He robs the originally "peaceful" motifs of their purported neutrality by reversing them graphically and transforming them into the negative. Brandenburg, who compares his works to frozen moments and film stills, makes the latent violence behind everyday motives visible by bathing them in a gleaming, unreal light and by transilluminating them with X-rays.
Georg Baselitz, on the other hand, devotes himself to a winged heraldic animal that is warlike through and through. The exhibition includes a large canvas by the artist with eagle motifs and a number of aquarelles from Baselitz' Remix series, which he began in 2008. With these works he competes with younger artists who work figuratively – but also with his own early work. In his eagle painting, Baselitz paraphrases a familiar theme: The eagle motif appeared in his work when he was young and then again in the early 1970s. By dealing with Germany's official heraldic animal, he probes the issue of national identity. The eagle appears as a battered remnant of the past that has to be revised. Anselm Kiefer, who fitted the German Pavilion with Baselitz at the 1980 Venice Biennale, also deals with German history intensively. He borrowed the title of his large paper work from 1987 from the volume of poetry Poppy and Memories in which Paul Celan processes the terror of the Nazis. Kiefer applied a lead-gray bomber model to a lead-gray background whose cracked surface recalls countryside devastated by the war.
Alex Katz does not allude at all to history and mythology. In his subdued figurative paintings he usually concentrates on people and landscapes from his immediate environment. Katz spends several months a year at his summerhouse in Maine, and it was here that he executed Yellow Seagull – the laconic picture of a solitary seagull soaring against the backdrop of a pale-yellow sky. While Tom Sachs' jigsaw work shows bees heading for a hive, Stephan Balkenhol's contribution is a wooden sculpture of an angel created specifically for the exhibition. At the center of the group of works that Ilya & Emilia Kabakov provided for Wings II is the installation How Can One Change Oneself? (1998). The work deals with the utopic projects of the Soviet era which attempted to breed better people. To satisfy these requirements, exhibition visitors can strap on two wings that are hanging on the wall and then perform everyday office work at a table.
July 24 – September 18, 2010
Deutsche Bank Kunstraum, Schwarzstraße 30, 5020 Salzburg
Mon – Fri 9 am – 5 pm, Sat 10 am – 5 pm