Caline Aoun
Deutsche Bank’s "Artist of the Year" 2018

Caline Aoun is Deutsche Bank’s “Artist of the Year” 2018. In the fall of 2018, she will show her first large-scale institutional exhibition at Berlin’s newly opened forum for art, culture, and sports at Prinzessinnenpalais.

Born in Beirut in 1983, Aoun is one of a generation of young Lebanese artists who grew up abroad after civil war broke out in 1975 and completed their artistic training outside the country. She studied in London at Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design and the Royal Academy Schools, completing her doctorate in fine arts at the University of East London in 2012. Originally using painting as a conceptual strategy to add another layer of mediation to the heavily mediated images she was exposed to, she decided briefly after completing her degree to abandon painting and began experimenting with photography and digital printing techniques.

In her work, the artist, who now lives near Beirut, combines strategies of minimalism and con-ceptual art with the question of how the evolution of digital technologies alters our perception of images and information.

The award “Artist of the Year” is given at the recommendation of the Deutsche Bank Global Art Advisory Council, consisting of the renowned curators Okwui Enwezor, Hou Hanru, Udo Kittelmann, and Victoria Noorthoorn. The award goes to a contemporary artist who has created an oeuvre that is artistically and socially relevant integrating the media of paper and photog-raphy, the two main areas of focus of the Deutsche Bank Collection.

“I am impressed by Caline Aoun’s obsession with printing to capture all the things that are fad-ing away.” writes Hou Hanru, Artistic Director of the MAXXI, Rome, in a statement on the jury’s selection. “She transforms the attention for her intimate surroundings into a gaze at the globalizing world. Her work echoes so beautifully, in silence, the way in which the world turns around today, with everything being packed in shipping containers carried away on a boat merging with the sunset over the horizon. But, with her touch, the containers are wide open, and every-thing is gone…only the human breath remains.”

Aoun discovers her source material in the realms of public life that are shaped by digital tech-nology: logistics, architecture, advertising, or urban planning. In one of her latest projects, Fields of Space (2016), she makes use of the Beirut port’s objects – shipping container floors, ledgers, industrial shipping palettes – and data to reimagine the ways in which we envision and interact with space and the materiality around us. Mundane elements that are normally over-looked become objects to gaze at. Aoun manipulates information and disrupts the common constructed reading of familiar objects, assigning new values to what otherwise would simply fade in the urban panorama.

She explores the over saturation of images that the digitisation of the globalised world has brought with it and processes of image making pushed to a point of these images’ self-erasure through excess. The foundations of her abstract works are experiments with ink-jet printers. In a subversive act Aoun “overfeeds” them with collected data and images, leading to malfunc-tions. She pushes folded or bunched up paper by force through industrial printers, resulting in monochromatic and delicate colour surfaces, fine lines, wrinkles, spots, and fingerprints. The virtual becomes palpable and graspable, at least for a moment.  

Caline Aoun’s solo exhibitions include Fields of Space, Marfa', Beirut (2016), Remote Local, Art Basel Statements, Basel (2015), Concrete Layers, Greynoise, Dubai (2015), The Future of Smart Technology in your Hands, Noshowspace, London (2013), Scape, Sartorial Project Space, London (2009). Her work has been exhibited in a number of group exhibitions, including Spy with my Little Eye . . ., Casa Árabe, Madrid and Mosaic Room, London (2015), Dust, Centre for Contemporary Art at Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw (2015), Exposure 2012, Beirut Art Center. Her work will also be included in the upcoming Home Beirut: Sounding the Neighbors, on view from November 15, 2017 until May 20, 2018 at the MAXXI in Rome.

After Wangechi Mutu, Yto Barrada, Roman Ondák, Imran Qureshi, Victor Man, Koki Tanaka, Basim Magdy and Kemang Wa Lehulere, Caline Aoun is now Deutsche Bank’s ninth interna-tional “Artist of the Year.”

Deutsche Bank’s Art, Culture & Sports division is a global unit that concentrates, cross-links and develops Deutsche Bank’s activities and strengthens the company’s cultural diversity.