To confess, one must tell lies*
Bradley Davies, Isabella Fürnk.s, Megan Francis Sullivan, Christian Theiß, Mark van Yetter
7 September until 19 October 2019
Kafkaesque has entered the world of cultural discourses and political theory in an attempt to describe the mundane absurdity that surrounds a series of tragicomic truths shaping contemporary life. Bureaucracies veiling the obscenity of power as presented throughout FK’s work transcend the limited boundaries of a literary device and reach the status of a historical tool. Moments of humanity and humor peaking behind the curtain become a set of metaphoric tools in Ortega’s terms, who described the metaphor as probably the most fertile power possessed by man, to explore the political implications of FK’s writings. Like a set of plastic flowers planted in a pot that’s filled with actual dirt and placed in a prominent spot inside the garden.
The trajectory of his politics begins with a fragile glasshouse that lives inside an equally fragile glass-aquarium. Christian Theiß, whose work often incorporates found objects and repurposed commodities placed his large-scale untitled Plexiglas house in the middle of the space to gaze down upon its audience. Its’ choice of material allows the ones stuck on the outside to penetrate its guts while the ones on the inside have no alternative, other than to tolerate being looked at. One of the onlookers is a big white stingray. Bradley Davies paints real instances, regardless of how fantastic and constructed they might appear. This process of telling jokes becomes, in a world full of gentle liars and aggressive pacifists, the most efficient way of telling the truth. He holds his breath and paints on a gentle yet crooked smile while swimming to the surface to escape from captivity. Many systems of arbitrary power occupied FK’s paranoid stories. Power and powerlessness, paranoia and the law of the of the non-sense leak trough FK’s machine intruding order and structure within the context of ‘art’. Parallels can be drawn with the story regarding the transport details of Mark van Yetter’s drawings from Oslo to Cologne. Without revealing extensive details concerning the logistics of the gallery: it includes a field trip, a guy getting bitten by a venomous Norwegian snake and a distinct iconography referencing European painting of the 1920s. Van Yetter presented a similar body of work in the context of his solo-show at the Kunsthalle St. Gallen, which was organized prior this year and included the pieces exhibited at Clages.
Megan Francis Sullivan grabs her camera, or rather borrows it, in order to paint through the impossibility that once rendered her medium dead. Focusing her lens on Cezanne’s bathing women Sullivan presents a fragment from a larger series exhibited at the Kunsthalle Bern in 2016, alongside two new drawings referencing the landing page of the New York Post. Meticulously painted by hand, i.e with the power of the painterly gesture, she has to repeat herself over and over again to make her point come across. The news circle runs frantically between real stories, real-life-based fiction and repurposed-real-life inspired fantasy, creating a space where truth and lies intrude one another. Isabella Fürnk.s paces. Walking up and down, she sketches out a series of episodes dealing with the quotes, the weakness of medium specificities and the identity politics of an entire generation. Her process entails putting together a group of different reference points, ranging from personal memories, everyday situations, emotions, visual stimuli.
The plastic flowers are long dead. The stingray is swimming away.