Article by Angela Connor in Berlin; Wednesday, Sep. 19, 2012
Last weekend, Berlin Art Link presented its third exhibition in their ongoing Day & Night series with American artist John Kleckner and Swiss artist Eva Maria Salvador. This exhibition followed on from their first collaborative exhibition Köpfe und Helme (2011) and explored notions of mortality, entropy, regeneration and metamorphosis, whilst engaging in the creative repurposing of recycled materials.
Spread across the adjoining spaces at Sur la Montagne Gallery, Salvador and Kleckner presented paintings, collages, photographs, paintings and drawings that centered around the curatorial theme of decomposition and waste. As a whole, these works presented a macabre and metaphorical representation of an existence that slinks behind everyday activity; both symbolically interpreting subsistence in the constant presence of extinction.
Eva Maria Salvador’s works employ found objects, materials and substances often reserved for theatrical costumes such as melted Styrofoam, lace, wigs, latex, wax, spray paint, enamel paint and Vaseline. Transforming the status of these materials, she constructs fragile head-shaped temporary objects that she then uses as textural subjects to create large-scale photographs using techniques derived from traditional portrait and product photography. Unsettling in their violent appearance and disintegrating facial features, Salvador juxtaposes these actions with the use of a rainbow palette.
Aesthetically rich in shape, form and colour, her works explore the notion of malleable materials and in the cycle of her artistic production, sculptures are treated as transient objects and are reintegrated into future forms and paintings. Alongside her Köpfe photographs, Salvador displayed luscious meta-paintings that have been executed using the leftover materials from previous sculptures.
John Kleckner’s subversive small-scale ink drawings of ghoulish faces, decaying flesh and hollowed facial features are executed with assiduous detail. Drawing inspiration from zombie horror films, pulp cinema, and dark mythological tales, Kleckner delicately pens images of tortured men with decomposing physiognomy; horrified eyes emanate piercing glares, conscious and aware of their own fate. Arranged between the portraits of horrified faces are images of the atmosphere; drawing conclusion with the symbiotic interaction between species and the global environment.
Collaging watercolour, ink drawings and cut paper, Kleckner also presented four new Helmet works displayed in a wooden box. Oscillating between abstraction, figuration and surrealist collage techniques, the low-relief texture of the works displayed a sculptural materiality. Like a overzealous scavenger of fantasy, art historical, literary and popular culture references, the works are a complicated assemblage of pictorial vocabularies.
There is a thematic consistency of both artists and their preoccupation with humans’ connection to nature, exploring the metaphorical hunger of our personal preoccupation with death. Both artists engage in the notion of the portrait and hold up decay as a subject worth recapitulating. Together, the dark undertones of Salvador’s photographs of perishing sculptural heads, mixed with Kleckners melancholic ink drawings of disfigured faces magnify the inescapable cycle of life.
Eva Maria Salvador:
Angela Connor is a writer living and working in Berlin.