BACK TO THE FUTURE
Heiko Räpple & Sebastian Riemer
Exhibition: September 17 – November 21, 2015
Curator: Gérard A. Goodrow
Tue-Sat 12-18h, and by appointment
Podbielski Contemporary is pleased to announce the opening of the exhibition BACK TO THE FUTURE featuring works by the Düsseldorf-based artists Heiko Räpple (sculpture) and Sebastian Riemer (photography). The artistic approaches of both Heiko Räpple and Sebastian Riemer revolve around conceptual investigations into the history, essence and reception of their respective media.
Heiko Räpple (*1981, Oberkirch) studied under Didier Vermeiren at the Academy of Art in Düsseldorf from 2002 through 2009. In his recent free-standing sculptures and wall pieces comprised primarily of acrystal, concrete, plaster, steel and wood, he focuses more than anything else on form, materiality and surface structure, which become that much more “legible” by the stringent reduction to the non-colours white and black. Throughout art history, the choice of material has played a central role in the viewer’s valuation of a work of art. Plaster is generally seen as an ancillary material, which, in the final version of the work, gives way to more “noble” and durable materials such as bronze or marble. In several works, Räpple refers back to the nearly extinct genre of wall reliefs, which reached a first peak during the age of classical antiquity and was temporarily re-enlivened in the bronze reliefs created by the avant-garde painter Henri Matisse in the first third of the 20th century. Räpple’s free-standing works, on the other hand, are clearly influenced on a formal level by the sculptural experiments of Constantin Brâncuși, a pioneer of modern sculpture. In all cases, Räpple’s works break down the barriers between high and low, inside and outside, sculpture and pedestal. The result is a highly poetic and masterfully crafted oeuvre, which is based within – but also clearly transcends – materiality.
Sebastian Riemer (* 1982, Oberhausen) studied under Thomas Ruff and Christopher Williams at the Academy of Art in Düsseldorf from 2002 through 2010. With his appropriations of retouched vintage photographs, the conceptually based photo artist calls into question the traditional – and on many levels still relevant – role of photography as a bearer and transmitter of objective truth. The analogue retouching of vintage photographic documents for press, advertising and propaganda purposes – from today’s standpoint almost primitive – becomes downright grotesque through the enlargement of the images to life-size. The manual retouching of especially press photos raises questions of authenticity and the “honesty” of the photographic media. At the same time, by appropriating vintage photographs, Riemer also questions the role of the photographer in the age of post-modern, digital reproduction. In his most recent series of Polaroid images of vintage Daguerreotypes from the mid-19th century, Riemer breathes new life into two groundbreaking photographic techniques, both of which have fallen into oblivion. Downloaded from the Internet, these images thus make reference to the debt owed by artists of the digital age to the rich tradition of analogue photography, which in turn is deeply indebted to the medium of painting. As a result, the boundaries between photography and painting – two theoretically mutually distinct media, which nevertheless clearly thrive on each other – become blurred and even defunct.
Both Heiko Räpple and Sebastian Riemer thus look back on the history of art and their respective media, as well as on long-established canons of reception, to create works of art that, although on many levels based on the past, are clearly contemporary and open new perspectives for the future of their respective media.
The exhibition is organized by the Cologne-based curator and author Gérard A. Goodrow.