Beyond Mimesis [hyperreal]: Alex Kiessling
19.02.2014 19:00h
Beyond Mimesis [hyperreal]: Alex Kiessling
Beyond Mimesis is a research and discourse platform investigating contemporary painting conditions curated by Christian Bazant-Hegemark

The series’ fourth event will be an artist talk with Alex Kiessling.

Alex Kiessling’s recent paintings mostly focus a single person embedded in somewhat unreal surroundings. In these, hyperrealistic depictions of the human figure meet their inverse, some sort of twilight atmospheres: dense, vast, haunting. The applied strategy seems to be one of extension by contrast - the whole canvas space becoming an uncanny combat zone of the Real.

In conversation with Glyn Daly, Slavoj Zizek states that “The Real is not necessarily or always the ‘hard real’ It can also have this totally fragile appearance: the Real can be something that transpires or shines through. For example, when you talk with another person and you are charmed by him or her - from time to time you perceive some traumatic, mystical, tragic, whatever, dimension in him or her. It is something that is Real, but at the same time totally elusive and fragile. That would be the imaginary Real.“ (Zizek, Slavoj; Daly, Glyn (2004): Conversations with Zizek, Reprinted. Cambridge, UK: Polity, p 69)

Kiessling seems to take this trauma inherent to life to transpose and extrapolate it onto the individual’s surroundings, the canvas’ Bilderwelt: into woods, into the sky’s light, into the general color’s atmosphere, into poses, and persistently also into the highlighting of seemingly erratic canvas inventories - a wasp, a support surface, a bear’s fur. This boosting elevation acts as a kind of symbolization overdrive, as canonizing force: Look at me, for I have become emblematic. It’s a quick reminder, an exclamation mark towards today’s tendency of form usurping content, form being content: Why wait for something to get canonized over time, when everyone can be the deciding factor in creating history - at least their own, pathetic little piece of it. Of course, everyone and everything being important inherently leads to the loss of importance altogether - this way, Kiessling’s highlighting of painting ciphers can be understood as a cheeky remark on the ubiquitous inflation of values, the constant ego fortification flowing through all ages and socities.

In his paintings, Kiessling uses loose, fuzzy backgrounds to set a hardly visible stage for showcasing a self-centered sort of tragedy: Not the invisible, mute tragedy of everyday life, but the exposed, hollywoodean, the glossy tragedy - the one discussing pocket money or proper footwear for tomorrow’s political protest: in addition to criticizing western society per se, it’s hard not to read Kiessling’s paintings as silent protest against today’s hipsterism.
Beyond the basic compositional decisions, there are specific hints that show Kiessling’s intentions: with all the energy put into rendering the figures’ haptics, their shadows and groundedness, at points he subtly leaves the established visual territories in favor of using flat-shaded surfaces or outlines more known from videogames. Appropriating ciphers like these, together with the given choice of character establishes contemporariness by using specific clothing paraphernalia (neon shoelaces on sneakers, a rarity in painting). Kiessling’s inhabitants seem to be real folks, sometimes far from the nostalgic ideals of beauty - and obviously, they don’t give a shit about it.

Kiessling’s paintings brim with nature; mangrove-like plants, palm trees, park areas, planes of grass, and most often: woods. Dark woods, bright woods, loose trees - so many that the canvas’ true longing might actually be the one for nature, for some sort of escape from urbanity. Within the universe they establish, apparently all disturbances, all dysfunctioning is manifested by humanity: It’s always “us” that create the disruption, the error, the trauma. Are these escapist scenes, then? The paintings’ nature-oriented backdrops can easily be imagined as being part of an imaginary oeuvre attributed to Caspar David Friedrich - just visualize the paintings’ figures turning 180 degrees to watch their surrounding scenery.

Somehow, I think that what they’d then see is closer to the painting’s essence then what Kiessling chooses to show us: Not escapism, but a deep-rooted Sehnsucht for things to be different.

(text by Christian Bazant-Hegemark)
Kategorie Uhu Diskurs
Start: 19.02.2014 19:00h
Ende : 19.02.2014, 21:00h

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