How does art capture emotions so perfectly

Art as the last bridge into human nature - Art has become one of the financially most promising cultural subsystems. Art is commerce and the ultimate object of distinction. But does this correspond to their nature? A plea for the preservation of beauty, truth & emotion. According to the German social philosopher Arnold Gehlen, (visual) art is an archaic form of representation and at the same time a highly concentrated cultural act. With the help of an artistic expression, the person still living in caves transfers a thought to the category of "Keeping" (Helmut Schelsky). In humans, the world that can be grasped as a holistic complex - intellectually only partially - exists only as an idea that is represented by means of art. Art enables a view into the innermost self of the creator. Gehlen points (especially in his work "Primitive man and late culture" von 1956) gives the representation a priority over the term, because the representation transforms the idea into a permanent state. A concept of something only reflects an opinion and can just as quickly vanish again. Words pass. A work of art remains.

Brigitte Waldach “Thinking (Hannah Arendt)”, Diptych 2013; 190 x 280 cm; Graphite, gouache, pigment pencil on laid paper; © Brigitte Waldach

However, art needs something extra-pictorial, on which it can lean, by which it is inspired: the examination of the surrounding reality, science or nature. These possibilities of reference have become more and more rare in the present. For example, classic photographs (without artistic aspirations) are now much more precise mirrors of reality than the visual arts. Science has also lost its engine of imagination for art because it is becoming more and more differentiated and is only accessible to specialists.

And nature is no longer what it used to be. The original relationship between nature, man and art has been broken. In this way, nature no longer depicts people's natural surroundings, since they are now fighting, at best, in the urban jungle - not to mention virtual worlds. The original sources of inspiration in art have dried up or plunged into the depths of inaccessible subsystems. The artist is without an outside stop. What remains is the look inward, the presentation of which was born in Expressionism. According to Gehlen, from this point on, modern art is dead.

Contemporary Art: Dead or Alive?

In contrast, contemporary art seems more alive than ever. The Documenta 13 want to see more visitors than ever before. 860,000 made the pilgrimage to Kassel last year. The prices for the new masters and some contemporary artists are rising immeasurably and will soon find no limit as long as there are people for whom millions have become peanuts. Thanks to the intensive use of Twitter & Co., artists like the Chinese Ai Weiwei are captivating more and more people. Art never seems to have been so ubiquitous as it is now. This popularity manifests itself in a wide and steadily growing number of fairs, galleries, mass exhibitions and art weeks. Most recently, the capital opened at the end of September with the second edition of the Berlin Art Week made a name for itself. The organizers themselves advertise:

“With an exciting and diverse program of high-class exhibitions, vernissages, events as well as numerous special projects and accompanying events by the ten participating institutions as well as the trade fair formats abc - art berlin contemporary and PREVIEW Berlin Art Fair, the BERLIN ART WEEK will again be all of Berlin's art in 2013 Week and promises to be the art event of autumn. "

Chaos, kitsch & art between Nordbahnhof and Gleisdreieck

The premises of both trade fairs alone, the ABC and the PREVIEW, provide some insight into the Janus-faced role of contemporary art. While the art berlin contemporary near the Gleisdreieck MAP in spacious halls professionally, very busy and a little clean presented and the stands of the individual galleries appear open to the same extent as they merge PREVIEW near the north train station MAP much more familiar too.

Evening opening event of the abc - art berlin contemporary; Photo: Stefan Korte

Just the ascent to the top floor to the former painting rooms of the opera workshops through the narrow stairwell with GDR charm, which exudes the scent of bureaucracy and has something Kafkaesque, whirls expectations upside down. But the art lover is rewarded. The three-walled rooms of the galleries, which are closely arranged in rows, encompass art and the public alike, thus condensing the atmosphere. A short walk through the offer of the Berlin Art Week, especially that of the two fairs, leads to a number of realizations, emotions, but also disappointments. A word in advance. A single work of art makes the author pause and indulge in ecstasy for many minutes and stay in her head for days. But more on that later.

Trivial reminiscences and intellectually overloaded installations

Several things are evident. Echoes of established artists, some of whom already belong to the modern classics - here Beuys, Rothko or Tillmans - are more than conspicuous and taste stale. For example, some artists present drawings such as those from Beuys ‘sketch archive, which with their process character still appear authentic to the master, but in imitation can hardly be distinguished from the scribbles and scribbles of four-year-olds - neither technically nor in terms of their effect on the viewer. Some works appear as copies and fragments of everyday objects - without a framing context. In series they tell stories to which only the author has access. The artefact is then crowned with the incredibly meaningful inscription "untitled". Complex installations made up of set pieces from everyday life cause nerve-wracking tingling in the fingertips and an urge to tidy up that can hardly be suppressed.

The artist's inherent idea or emotion may work in harmony with the individual elements. It doesn't do it here. If the artist lacks feeling or authenticity, this is also expressed in the work. The result is a schematic, seemingly scientific and theory-based art. Avant-garde is all well and good, but the complete break with the classic rules of art simply plunges work and viewer into chaos. Playing with different materials or genres inspires and tells when the baseline is right. Everything else looks like the fantastic figment of a schizophrenic or, alternatively, drug-contaminated brain. The more intentional the arrangements are, the more they move away from the core of art. Art comes primarily from ability, not will.

Some of the works make on Klimt 2.0: There is pixelated, photographed, collaged and the color turned up until it pops in the eyes. In painting, layers are thrown upon layers in the hope that the right moment, the enlightenment, the perfect reincarnation of a thought that cannot be verbalized, but nothing comes. No matter - gallery owner and buyer are already waiting. Still other works raise the question of the viewer: Did the artist even have physical contact with the material? Clean may be cool, unfortunately it doesn't seem genuine. Here and there the question arises: Is mere collecting and arranging art or can it also have a message? At some point the art-loving visitor is certain: There are at least two types of artists:

  • The intrinsically motivated looks at l‘art pour l’art,
  • those who act extrinsically do l’art pour la glorie or l’art pour l’argent.

For some, art is the only way to master the restless, painful need for expression, the insatiable urge to realize an indefinite, soul-tormenting feeling. The other wants attention. This likes the The consequence of an over-the-top, money-ruled and unapproachable present but there is hope.

Hope in times of hypercapitalism

Some of the works form small, fine islands in the sea of ​​works of art that have been degraded to attention-grabbing demonstration objects. Firstly, some artists show that there is still potential for innovation and that art has not yet exhausted itself in terms of its subjects and techniques. For example, multiple processing of materials is noticeable. It is scratched, glued and painted, creating a dimension of depth that borders on optical illusions. Heike Jeschonnek, for example, experiments with paraffin and oil on nettle and creates extremely delicate scenarios that appear apodictic as well as fragile.

Heike Jeschonnek "1Q 84", paraffin and oil on paper, 150 x 221 cm, 2013

Pastel drawings that look like photographs at a medium distance or playing with perspectives, like the Swede Jens Fänge with his very dynamic, three-dimensional painting, also cause positive irritation "The drama" proves. He creates a play area, paints across corners and puts pictures on the depicted interior, whose idiosyncratic perspective seems to characterize modern life.

Filigree compositions show dedication

Filigree works in the style of copperplate engravings are just as enchanting as meticulously assembled, large-format pictures that, on closer inspection, are composed of thousands of strokes, dots and lines. Brigitte Waldach succeeds in creating a particularly ingenious creation with a background in the history of ideas with magically light and yet profound drawings and the attempt to pour philosophical ideas into figurative images. Delicately breathed or bold words condense into landscapes of a poetic kind with titles like "Thinking (Hannah Arendt)". Michael Schuster creates small figures with dried leaf frames in “twenty nine moments” that are conquering the world. The artist Torsten Enzio Richter amazes with extremely fine pencil drawings that seem to surpass the depicted object in terms of precision. So you can hardly take your eyes off the image of an unearthed, rusted dagger, the sight of which builds up the sound of clinking blades in your head.

Thought spaces and timelessness

Nasan Turs is depressing and moving"Bautzener Straße 112A". Photos of the prison doors from the prisoners' perspective are hung in a room the size of the cell in which the inmate is shielded from the outside. Tilo Schulz from Leipzig has arranged a series of black lines of various sizes and lengths that look like DNA sequences and range from thickly soaking to breathy. The Berlin Timo Klöppel also provides the viewer with a special experience with his installation "There is light in the smallest hut" (2012), who builds a bridge to architecture. A walk-in light cuboid made of old windows in an old building envelops those interested in art with a splendid quality of light and a peculiar climate. All that is missing here is a couch, plants, a pot of tea and a good book - and an oasis in stormy times is ready. The works of Lita Cabellut, which are shown on the Berlin Art Week Was allowed to present pictures by Charlie Chaplin, whose sophisticated painting technique takes the viewer into bygone times.

1. Nasan Tur, "Bautzner Strasse 112A", 2009, series with 15 photographs, art print 21 x 32 cm each, framed 29 x 40 cm each; Photo: Blain | Southern
2. Timo Klöppel. “Light is in the smallest hut”, 2012, installation made of window frames; Photo: Timo Klöppel
3. Lita Cabellut, “Charlie Chaplin 19”, 2012, mixed materials on canvas, 260 x 200 cm; Photo: Lita Cabellut

Inspirational potpourris

Some time ago, Lady Gaga dictated to a journalist in the block that she should be inspired by artistic ideas when choosing her extravagant costumes that touch the boundaries of art. The pop princess seems to have noticed the Croatian Lovro Artukovic. His (still unfinished) oil painting "Ari in a trash costume" reminds of the latest fashionable escapades of the American woman. In addition to the presentation of works by individual artists, the Montez family art association is particularly powerful. With a lush St. Petersburg hanging up to the ceiling, the Frankfurt / M. resident art makers a rich potpourri of pictures, which in contrast to the meager presentations, especially at the ABC stands. A visitor pronounces the word "eye erection" when looking at it. The imaginative, technically varied images reflect the feeling of a pop culture saturated person and pull into a vortex of echoes and interpretations of a world without boundaries.

While in Berlin art and money have alienated the cityscape again for a week, the SHIFT in Berlin was looking forward to a visit from Frankfurt am Main. Together with the Montez family art association, the presentation was “Paying much more attention to roots”, 2013, traveling exhibition with a growing number of artists; Photo: Kunstverein Familie Montez

Art for everyone - with pleasure!

Despite some highlights, in the end the Berlin Art Week a discomfort. The offensive criticism of social grievances with the help of art is too striking and leaves a bitter aftertaste. Plagiarism and chaos spoil the view. Audio installations that swallow each other rub on nerves. Art begging for attention is uncomfortable. Demonstrative social criticism belongs in the features section. Art should express archaic, all-encompassing experiences and feelings and be free from intellectual ballast so that it can become an experience for everyone. Real art comes straight from the human soul. It is a representation of a feeling. Where there is no feeling, there is no human. Where there is no human there is no art.

"The beautiful is defined ... as the sensual shimmer of the idea."

- Georg Friedrich Hegel

When asked whether literature should be philosophical, educational or enjoyable, the recently deceased literary pope Marcel Reich-Ranicki had a clear answer: It's all about pleasure. Literature should entertain. Doesn't that also apply to art? Isn't it about beauty, truth and feelings? In his lectures on aesthetics, Hegel writes in the third chapter (The idea of ​​the beautiful): "The beautiful is determined ... as the sensual shimmer of the idea." And if beauty is an idea, then beauty is also truth because beauty "Be true to yourself" got to.

Art as the last archaic category

The most intense moment of looking comes from the work "Ray of light" by Berlin-based photographer Heike Mardo. An arrangement of 13 framed photographs captures the magical multifacetedness of the light in a way that tempts you to dream and makes you forget the hustle and bustle around you.

Heike Mardo Preview Berlin Set: Ray of Light, 2013, Hahnemühle Fine Art Print; Photo: Galerie Lux Berlin

Maybe that's what art should do in the age of hypercapitalism and high-speed processes. The more stressful the postmodern life in an impatient society, the greater the desire for calm and contemplation. It is the truth of beauty that shields nervous life for a moment and creates a small space for reflection. Let's remember Gehlen. A work of art can radiate a verbally inexpressible idea or a feeling of the artist, transfer it to the viewer and anchor it in him. This was already true of primitive man. Art is perhaps the last archaic category that progress has not yet completely softened. It would be nice if she would stay that way.

Author: Inga Ganzer
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