When we dream, often we see something true. A world that seems to lie behind what our everyday perception presents to us and, yet, only reveals itself to our eyes in that very oneiric moment. Images of the past reveal themselves like visual or verbal phrases of a cultural subconscious, hazy and often only partially recognizable, so that they seem to exist as shadows of a history just vaguely known to us. In our memory of its nuances, somnambulistic, ambiguous, and ambivalent elements are reflected, which, via the constant flux of its constitutive elements, generates a multiplicity of meanings and whose very recurrence reflects the perpetual echo between dream and the death of another, subconscious form of narration.
Linn Lühn is particularly pleased to announce Johannes Wohnseifer’s third solo exhibition, Things Take Time, which, beginning with the notion of temporal distance and its transformative effect, centers around the idea of the studio as archive. This is a place in which the boundaries between past, present, and future dissolve and, over time, form a constantly interweaving and linking web of references: Here, references to our media culture and the automotive industry change into their consumerist opposite and are revealed to our gaze by Wohnseifer’s language as the cultural, formal, and aesthetic structures and relics of the 20th century. Lattice-like, changing like passcodes, their edifices emerge on the canvases in ever-new forms. They combine on the surfaces of the exhibited works in parallel with the formation of freshly generated visual ciphers and lacunae that bear witness to how we negotiate the multiplicity of experiences within our own constantly evolving culture and time. Moving beyond a technique that refers purely to the retrospectivity of its own elements, Wohnseifer creates works that become mirrors of the ways in which our own perception and memory function. Like aesthetic data storage devices, works such as Taschenrechner or Black Men / White Men reflect the clich s of abstract and minimalist painting while adding new historical and discursive layers. The symbols of cultural codes – their attributes decoded, sampled, and re-encoded – momentarily reveal again the actuality of their intrinsic aspects.
Along with the interweaving of multilayered references from our visual subconscious, Johannes Wohnseifer’s works simultaneously reflect a system of aesthetic appropriation of historical as well as social structures, while highlighting the nearly unperceived nature of this annexation of motifs, forms, and themes in the history of culture. In these works, the use of painted-over West African fabrics as image support, often overlaid with anodized metal, acts not only to create a commentary on colonialism and globalization, but also, in the still darkly discernible traces of paint application, condenses into the dreamlike visual atmosphere of an abstract seascape. Thus, they become like Romantic compositions in whose alternation of ornamentation and impasto paint application the images of our cultural subconscious reemerge even as they blur. Here, too, the images Wohnseifer utilizes, which coexist in his studio over long periods of time, require time to be deciphered. One must also take time to allow the images, which combine the dark beauty of seascapes, the psychedelic abstraction of ornament, and the formal strands of conceptual painting, to merge with their retelling of our everyday perception into a true experience of memory and cultural reference.
Philipp Fernandes do Brito