ANATOMY OF WORDS II

Andreas Blank

04.11.2021 - 22.12.2021
Cologne

Press release

Press Release

The preoccupation with material cycles and landscape movements are central moments in the artistic work of Andreas Blank. In a traditional manner, he gathers a variety of rare stones from quarries worldwide and brings out their special qualities through his meticulous sculptural working methods, ultimately creating stylized cultural objects from them.

In the process, Blank questions socially shaped values and attributions of meaning not only through the geographical and cultural identity of the material but also through the motifs he uses. While marble, alabaster, or porphyry was historically used in sculpture to manifest political or religious power in statues, palaces, and church buildings, Blank's artistic practice instead reflects the meaning of culturally shaped objects and motifs of the postmodern world. By "carving in stone" transient consumer objects and ephemeral situations, he emphasizes, even more, their collective and stereotypical significance on the historical, social and political level. A set of a briefcase and shirt collar or a pair of shiny leather shoes, for example, appear in different variations as symbolic references to anachronistic notions of work and thereby contrast with the artistic production process.

Blank thus succeeds in condensing time and narrative structures in his works, while his material sensibility allows him to go beyond a simple juxtaposition of abstraction and reality, image and likeness. Rather, he negotiates questions of perfection and production of Western culture when he transforms natural material into perfect goods and presents imperfect almost unchanged as an artistic gesture. In this sense, the exhibition brings together abstract and realistic visual languages in a symbiotic way: One of the main works in the exhibition is a larger-than-life depiction of the shirt with the briefcase in front of an equally monumentally enlarged ornamental script, which references each other. Alongside is a series of seemingly framed, abstract watercolor paintings, composed of rock fragments and conglomerates, and as a painterly moment, suddenly appear as harmonious as well as artificially staged.

At the latest, since Rene Magritte's painting The Treachery of Images from 1929 (on which the iconic pipe with the text "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" can be seen), the questioning of the gap between what is signified and what is significant, between language, image, and imagination, seems to be the content of artistic-conceptual practice. Following Magritte's hypothesis that an object can never do the same as its name or image, Andreas Blank's exhibition Anatomy of Words also examines the influence of language, visual habits, and norms on our perception.

Andreas Blank (born 1976 in Ansbach) studied sculpture at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe under Harald Klingelhoeller and subsequently completed his master's degree at the Royal College of Art in London. He was a scholarship holder of the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes and a finalist of the New Sensation Award of Channel 4 and the Saatchi Gallery 2009 in London. The sculptor Andreas Blank lives and works in Franconia and Berlin. His works are in numerous public collections, such as the Bundeskunstsammlung in Bonn, Sammlung des Umweltministeriums in Berlin, and Sammlung Museum Basel-Land, as a number of private collections.

Text: Paulina Seyfried
(art historian and curator)

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