Private View: Saturday 19th November, 7 - 9 pm
From Jackie Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe to cobras and lions, a dancing devil and a mermaid, Joachim Lambrechts’s latest exhibition at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery in Berlin draws on the artist’s personal experiences as well as a wide range of cultural and social references in a riotous celebration of the vibrancy and absurdity of everyday life. Titled after one of the works–on–paper in which a wizard conjures a rainbow as both a shelter and a source of light amid a stormy scene, Dark Days Need Bright Spells explores the idea of humour as a tool for healing and opening up new ways of seeing the world.
‘I think that humour is very important for helping put certain things into perspective,’ says Lambrechts. ‘As we all know, life can be brutally hard and at such times, laughter is crucial. It makes things bearable.’ This is very much tied to the artist’s approach to making art, which embraces play as means for unlocking creativity. He never plans his works, preferring to see what emerges through a spontaneous process, which sometimes involves working very quickly – each of the works-on-paper for this exhibition, for example, were created in a day. However, while the characters and text often appear rudimentary in form, the heavily worked surfaces reveal a more considered and effortful process as Lambrechts works over his initial marks to begin again.
Lambrechts’ idiosyncratic pairings of text and image transform challenging subject-matter, such as the ongoing war in Ukraine and global warming, into something that’s easier to relate to and digest. These works do not seek to belittle these issues, only to provide a momentary sense of relief just as scenes depicting the jazz pianist Hank Jones serenading a woman or Jimi Hendrix setting his guitar on fire offer a simple pleasure in their playfulness and eccentricity. At the same time, there is a joyful defiance that runs throughout the exhibition, that understands laughter and play as a form of resistance, an animal instinct to burst free from external constraints.
‘The months I’ve been working on this show have been one of my most creative and productive periods in my life. It felt like there was no end to the inspiration – it kept flowing out of my body like some kind of raging energy,’ says Lambrechts. To encounter these works is to experience vitality and hope, the feeling of being free.