Painting in Space

With Cornelia Baltes, Shila Khatami, Ingo Meller and Rolf Rose.

The exhibition NO ILLUSIONS will explore the properties and limits of the medium of painting based on diverse contemporary positions. Some of the featured works by the four invited artists are being created expressly for the show. The »radical painting« of Ingo Meller (b. 1955) meets up here with the often outsized canvases of Rolf Rose (b. 1933), which negate brushstrokes as handwriting, seeming to materialise instead from colour itself. Straddling the realms of abstraction and figuration, Cornelia Baltes’s (b. 1978) paintings blur the boundaries between image and space, while Shila Khatami’s (b. 1976) compositions made of perforated steel-aluminium plates address the medium of painting itself. These varied contemporary approaches to painting are set in dialogue in the exhibition with selected works from the Hamburger Kunsthalle’s own collection. Among the artists represented are Dana Greiner (b. 1988), Dominik Halmer (b. 1978), Sabrina Haunsperg (b. 1980), Franziska Reinbothe (b. 1980) and Helga Schmidhuber (b. 1972).

Painting was for centuries the medium of choice when striving to capture true-to-life, three-dimensional impressions of people, nature and objects on a flat surface. And yet painting has not always been a matter of creating an illusion. Artists have instead continually explored its limits for representing reality, constantly putting it to the test. As a consequence, painting has always been »abstract« and also inevitably »conceptual«. At the same time, it is always oriented toward the space around it as well as those who encounter it. The role of the audience viewing a picture is thus every bit as important as that of the artists who produce it. While the latter invent images, it is the viewers who carry them out into the world. Museums, as places of collective pictorial memory, are often the places that make it possible to present works of art to a large audience for the first time. In doing so, they not only create a stage but may also act as muse.