Ways of Seeing Abstraction:
Lada Nakonechna, Merge Visible. Composition No. 45, 2016

Most people still understand abstraction as a concentration on form. It is viewed as an art movement which is used to express aesthetic ideas, orders, philosophical ideas or inner feelings, but which does not have much to do with everyday reality. However, especially in times marked by crises, relevance and urgency are also expected from art, and it is expected to make a statement on current social issues. Today, artistic commitment is not conveyed exclusively through clear visual messages and content, but increasingly through abstraction. For younger generations, in particular, non-representational art is the means of choice for addressing politics, religion, and social issues. Showcasing works from the Deutsche Bank Collection, the exhibition “Ways of Seeing Abstraction” at the PalaisPopulaire undertakes a thoroughly subjective survey of international abstraction from postwar modernism to the recent present, documenting the diversity and discursivity that lie behind the idea of non-objective, “pure” form. On the occasion of the exhibition, our series will show you works by artists who use abstraction idiosyncratically and define it in new ways.

Lada Nakonechna, Merge Visible. Composition No. 45, 2016
© the artist and Galerie Eigen + Art, Leipzig/ Berlin

Lada Nakonechna lives in Kyiv, the capital of a country that has been in a state of emergency for years: strikes, protests, and, not least, armed conflict with Russia have shaken Ukraine severely. The artist reacts to the constant feeling of uncertainty with works that question the veracity of images. She seeks to activate the viewer and, as she puts it, sensitize the spectator's "conceptual apparatus" to the hidden messages and ideologies that images convey.

Like many of her works, the series Merge Visible is based on material from the Internet, in this case photos of the destruction in the eastern Ukrainian region Donbass. The series owes its title to a function in the image-processing program Photoshop with which the artist removed traces of war by means of retouching. She collaged fragments of the pictures into dynamic abstract compositions, recalling the designs of El Lissitzky and Kazimir Malevich, two protagonists of Constructivism who embodied the spirit of the Russian avant-garde. At a time when Nakonechna was overcome by "the feeling of complete powerlessness in the face of war," her series reminds us of "the time in the past when artists could feel so confident." But the avant-garde's optimism was shattered by political developments at the beginning of the twentieth century.