On the 31st of December in 2009, Cathy Wilkes’ work was last on view in Berlin at Giti Nourbakhsch gallery. Today she returns with a sparsely furnished presentation. “The exhibition shows impressions of flowers and landscapes from my childhood”.
There are 7 flower motifs printed on thin paper; in two vitrines she sketches landscapes and narratives using historical photos, polaroid images, papier-mâché and mundane everyday objects. Linen cloth and egg tempera create an immediate illusionist depiction of a winter backdrop.
The installation of the artworks appears discreet and vulnerable; some works are presented significantly below eye level, two glass objects rest on the gallery floor, withdrawing themselves from comfortable access via the visitor’s gaze. There is a lot of empty space between the objects. The gallery’s large, unveiled window panes create a genuine connection between the exhibits and everyday life on Rosa-Luxemburg-Square.
The first impression of effortlessness is deceptive. The exhibits, created using a reduced range of means, were in fact produced with the utmost attention to detail, their components carefully chosen, reworked and refined several times – all in order to create things that appear silent and insignificant.
Cathy Wilkes’ artworks pass through continuous processes of self-observation, questioning and exploration of personal and universal meaning – they are simultaneously perceived
– as exactly what they are
– as triggers for memories, fantasies, sorrows and fears
Cathy Wilkes lives and works in Glasgow. She was born in Belfast in 1966. In 2008, she was nominated for the Turner Prize and she was awarded with the first Maria Lassnig Prize in 2017. Two years ago, she represented the UK at the 58th Venice Biennale (2019).
In times that are shaped by insecurities and constant adjustments, we look to the continuous work of our artists for direction. Such are the conditions under which Leda Bourgogne prepares her second show in Berlin. Inspired by a confident longing for social exchange and against her better judgement, she has planned a series of events which reflect her interest in music, film and literature.
In this sense, Bourgogne’s works are marked with traces of hatred and care in relation to the object, which might well be understood as art itself. Entities emerge, bearing witness to an integrative power. They succeed against all odds, on the verge of collapse, lacking support and in unstable conditions.
Sascha Rothbart, 2018
Leda has furnished the project space accordingly: with a bar, a stage, technical equipment and wall texts. Until the event program launches (whenever Covid measures allow), the project space invites visitors to consume small doses of music, films, coffee and books, surrounded by an ensemble of drawings and images that give an impression of the artist’s psyche. The portraits / self-portraits which are presented on mirror frames become an allegory for contactless encounter.
Distance, togetherness and the fragility of identity constructs: these are themes which Leda Bourgogne also thinks about outside of the pandemic context. Her artworks pass through processual transformations, just like organisms which love and suffer. She tailors reflective skins made out of garment fabric for her paintings. She opens and closes membranes with box cutters, needle and thread. The scars remain visible. She infects the pictorial ground with spit out chewing gum. The impairment of the intact visual body is a repetitive activity in the artist’s methodology. Minor assault as an element of crime is surely a given in times when proximity represents a threat
This liquid organ knows
no outer force
it flows down
and outwards of its own accord
into the ruins of our defeat
into the roots of our disbelief
into the well of our fainting heartbeat
Leda Bourgogne, 2020
A large piece of black velvet is held together by metal teeth. When opening some of these zippers, a flat screen appears beneath. The image is an image and an amplifier for the exhibition’s film program. Her work switches between painting and object and supplies energy for the space.