Hedvig Liestoel 7/4/2018 12:36
Marking the gallery’s 6-year anniversary, London-based Kristin Hjellegjerde is
delighted to announce the opening of its second space in Berlin.
Coinciding with Berlin Gallery Weekend, the inaugural exhibition, Aphrodite
Lowers Her Mirror, presents new works by Norwegian painter Martine Poppe
and British video installation artist James Alec Hardy. Together, their works
mirror each other’s investigations of feedback loops, and of the physical and
digital manipulations between subject and object that mark this process.
The exhibition’s title takes its cue from the curious phenomenon in Western
art history of depicting Venus, known as Aphrodite’s roman match, gazing into
a mirror. However, by the laws of optics, what the audience is shown in the
mirror reflection is not what Aphrodite herself could possibly see. Such visual
manipulation is apparent from age to age: in former times, Velasquez, Titian,
and Rubens only created harmless illusions to depict Aphrodite's beauty
simultaneously from the back to front. Correspondingly, in today's world, our
reality is mirrored in fake news, Facebook, photoshopped pictures and post-
truth videos. We see what is intended to be seen, but is this silhouette of
reality showing us any truth?
Contemporary artists have a responsibility to act as mirrors, providing a
reflective commentary on societal views and attitudes. In their work, Poppe
and Hardy are figuratively letting Aphrodite lower her mirror – they encourage
the viewers to go deeper, to question manipulated views, and to reveal, at
least once in a while, the real world around us.
Poppe records photographic images by painting from top left to bottom right.
The process is intensely physical, requiring the artist to perform as a human
printer, replicating full-scale prints onto translucent polyester restoration
fabric. The fabric acts as a screen during the painting process, covering the
print and revealing the artist relationship with the chosen subject. Rhythmic
brushstrokes are all that remains of the movement and action of painting. The
resulting image, both subject and object, triumphs over its content, and act as
a naked and honest dialogue with the viewer. In this human-machine interface
of interpreting and replicating photography, Poppe creates a loop between the
artist, the artwork and the viewer. The exhibition reflects on the cycle of an
entire day through light, from the morning sky to the evening scene of moon lit
Hardy´s work is presented through swirling floor-based works and rising
totems of stacked video screens. His escalating ladder-like shapes of
overlapping video frames are forever renewing and regenerating, like
oscillating antennas from some lost sci-fi movie. Arranged in a geometric
layout, the video works are mirrored by totems of unique C-type prints, a
reverse of Poppe’s process, as it were. Poppe’s works make permanent
productions of fleeting moments by committing them to screens, while Hardy’s
video works are looping visitations to the same screen. Each of these cycles
subsist between the tangible and intangible, fleeting and permanent: looking
at you looking at them, reflected in the mirror.
As Poppe’s and Hardy’s works offer a meditative projection for our own
truth, the intimate, almost oasis-like gallery space in Berlin gives viewers a
meditative space for reflection.
Eventually, Aphrodite lowers her mirror. And we?