Figure of Speech, 10 Nov 2016 — 14 Jan 2017

Figure of Speech

Cassina Projects and ARTUNER present “Figure of Speech“, a new exhibition opening on November 10th, 2016 at Cassina Projects. This is the second chapter of a joint exhibition programme between the two ventures.

“Figure of Speech” is a three-person show featuring the work of David Czupryn, Georg Herold and Katja Seib. A ‘figure of speech’ is a rhetorical device that enriches text with complex layers of significance: it can be a specific arrangement or omission of words, a particular kind of repetition, or a departure from the words’ literal meaning. Some of the most commonly used ones are simile, metaphor, hyperbole, and personification. The use of such devices often refines text by means of bringing sentiments closer to the everyday, or conversely by elevating simple experiences. This exhibition looks at the practices of three contemporary German artists affiliated with the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. Specifically, it explores the ways in which each of them articulates the characters within the different narratives weaved into their works. Indeed, in a way similar to the use of a figure of speech in verbal discourse, Czupryn, Herold and Seib evoke, through the protagonists of their paintings, a plethora of references and affects.

David Czupryn’s investigations of nature and artificiality merge with uncannily human emotions in his works on canvas. Personal episodes and dark stories take the shape of disquieting anthropomorphic assemblages of plants and plastics, polymers and minerals. Not interested in a faithful reproduction of nature as such, Czupryn’s alchemies mould the fantastic universes of his paintings in an illusionistic amalgamation of materials. Unlike the composite portraits by the 16th century Italian Master Giuseppe Archimboldo, upon closer inspection, Czupryn’s components – executed with hyperrealist detail – reveal themselves as unreal, non-existent, and otherworldly. The concurrent presence and absence of his characters – unnerving wallflowers quietly observing the audience – allows the artist to explore the uncanny and the unconscious.

Georg Herold is one of the most important German artists of the 20th century, best known for his sculptures made of a various range of materials – from bricks, bottles, wooden laths and underwear to bronze – as well as, at the other end of the spectrum, his caviar paintings, made by painstakingly arranging and numbering thousands of the precious black eggs on canvas. In “Figure of Speech”, the artist will present both his monumental humanoid bronze sculptures and the signature caviar paintings. Herold is resolved to interpreting the world according to his own canons: instead of asking questions to others, he seeks to question phenomena directly. It is essential for him to keep as unbound as possible from existing associations. Indeed, the caviar paintings are an investigation into displaced materials, into luxury and mortality, created with a substance that is simultaneously precious and degradable. The sculptures, on the other hand, embody the struggle between the maker and his creation, between desire and wish-fulfilment.

Katja Seib’s paintings delve into narrative emotions. They open like doors onto private scenes of tenderness, desire, sadness or reverie. Always somewhat mysterious, her works hold the promise of disclosing their secrets hidden in the details. They articulate ineffable feelings that are at once personal and universal. Often metaphorical, Seib’s painterly stories reflect with self-irony on the human condition in its infinite declinations. For her body of work presented in New York, unlike the one preceding it, the artist looks towards current events from the world at large, rather than at personal experiences. However, by portraying friends and people she feels close to, Seib brings such occurrences closer to an intimate dimension. Some, like the death of the legendary musician Prince, are moments that blur the boundaries between public and private, as they touch us deeply, without concerning us directly.

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