Franz Ackermann: Hills and Doubts
Berlinische Galerie, Alte Jakobstrasse 124-128, 10969 Berlin
18 September 2013-31 March 2014
From the Press Release
Painter, illustrator and installation artist Franz Ackermann has devised a spatial concept for the Berlinische Galerie that constructs a relationship between a mural, paintings and photographs. The artist has filled the museum’s entrance hall - which is more than 40 metres long and about ten metres high - with an installation to frame the space. It consists of a mural created especially for the museum, complemented by large scale panel of paintings and photographs.
The result is a landscape specific to this setting and yet drawing on a tradition in panoramic landscape painting that began in the 16th century with the Flemish artist Joachim Patinir. Ackermann’s work initially reveals a broad panoramic vista - a hilly microcosm - but when the spectator shifts position, a tremendous wealth of detail emerges. The idealised scenery is punctuated by additions such as photographs from India and Tarlabasi, a neighbourhood of Istanbul awaiting demolition. These represent the doubts in the title. They are an integral part of the mural and yet at the same time challenge it.
Ackermann’s work springs from little drawings, most of them cartographic, which he sketches during his prolific travels. These Mental Maps are in themselves subjective interpretations of spaces and places, which he then distills and expands for his larger works. For Ackermann’s installation, sightlines are as important as circulation routes, dimensions and the technical services installed in floors, walls and the ceiling over the exhibition space.
One key theme of Ackermann’s work is tourism, which he sees as a kind of colonialism. He explores the Western perceptions and power relations that are inevitably imported when we travel to other countries, especially if they are poorer than ours. He is also interested in the changes in social and communication patterns deriving from our use of digital technologies. Now that it is essentially possible to pay a virtual visit to anywhere in the world via the internet, the sensation of feeling alien has acquired a new status as an experience. Ackermann sees the medium of painting as a reflection of painterly forms of expression, but also as a response to strategies of communication and models of perception.