With the solo exhibition JEUX D’EAU, GALERIE SUPPER, Baden-Baden, presents works by the artist Christian Awe
(*1978, Berlin) for the first time.
Awe's work combines seemingly playful elements with powerful colors on the one hand and deceptively real looking illusions of water on the other, which leads to a tension the spectator cannot resist. Through its abstract forms - smears or splashes - the luminous acrylic paint implies a particular way of movement, which almost escapes the picture, rendering its surface tactile.
Roughly quoting the philosopher Vilém Flusser, it is exactly this touching gaze that is able to reconstruct the abstracted dimensions of meaning, which have been merely insinuated by the surface. In fact, the complexity of stratification, which is so characteristic for works by Awe, is to be seen only with a closer look. By means of partial scratching, the artist reveals hidden, overlaid layers of color and meaning and thus gives his works the typical form language within a well calculated arch of suspense between inside and outside. What seems to be a spontaneous gesture really is the outcome of a long process of application and removal. The formerly explosive-expansive impression thus changes to the opposite: The spectator is almost soaked in by an undertow which sends him on a journey of discovery and turns the smears into hieroglyphs.
“Just like when one looks into the clouds, the brain starts to associate things, forms, and figures“, Awe remarks. Abstraction becomes narration. Here, we are back with Flusser, whose touching, wandering gaze is directed in equal parts by the structure of the picture as well as by the intention of the spectator. The dialectics of movement within Awe's works thus reveal not only the inner life of the pictures but also our very own imagination.
The focus of the exhibition JEUX D‘EAU lies, as the name suggests, on Christian Awe's water pictures. As an extension of his artistic repertoire, the artist has organically integrated this technique into his works. In most of his "pure" water pictures, there are only very few layers on top of each other.
The monochrome, seemingly three-dimensional color fields are calmer and less explosive than earlier works by Awe. As if real water drops or runlets would spread over the canvas, the pictures seem uniquely alive and almost photographic. The spectator is tempted to touch the pictures in order to match the visual perception with reality. Within current works, which take up water elements, the layering is getting more intense again. Through powerful splashes, running over the canvas like colorful runlets and covering the layers underneath or seeming to be applied almost randomly as drops and specks of paint, Awe combines this water technique with stilistic elements of his earlier works and therefore provides the pictures with their very own dynamic and power of expression.
Yet, water takes on an important role not only formally but also content-wise within recent works of Christian Awe: Water is a symbol of purity and source of life on the one hand, while on the other representing the destructive, uncontrollable force of nature as well as thousands of refugees, who have to leave their homes and set forth on a long and dangerous journey across the Mediterranean Sea in order to find security. More than a few lose their lives on the way. With respect to the prevailing situation of refugees in Europe, Awe's works are not only artistically, but also sociopolitically relevant. With his works, the artist wants to address subjects such as life, home, cultural diversity, hope, solidarity, and a collective spirit. He wants to make the spectator think - but not in an act of indicting but with the aid of positive enery and optimism, without which we will not be able to handle the social challenges of our time.