It is rare, that i do single exhibition reviews on this blog. But with Johanna Silbermanns paintings, there is something, which always struck me. I first noticed her work in the kitchen of dear a friend, who owns a rather small early work of hers. Back in the times she painted rather realistic scenes of apartments, possibly hotelrooms, with personas – I call them personas, because the finely shaped human figures of men and women do not have a face, there is a veil of nearly translucent colour on them, so that the ancient latin term for mask seems rather fitting – lost in them, much like in a novel by Franz Kafka. In a way, she creates a scene, like in a movie, much like my beloved Edward Hopper, that is naturally without context, but seems to narrate some sort of a story. For all I know, the spectator is making the story up – it will be always a different one, depending on the cross-references and associations planted in ones brain.
In her current exhibition there are scenes from the half-forgotten Zoo (also called Tierpark) of East Berlin, located in the rather remote area Friedrichsfelde. The tableaus are sometimes half empty, housed by plants and the geometry of cages, aquariums and fences, following angles and perspectives through glasshouses. Like in her other works, she combines figurative technique with reduced, sometimes even geometrical backgrounds, all held in a mostly earthly colour scale, ranging from yellow to brown. Although there are nearly no persons integrated, the paintings suggest some kind of a story, feel like a view on an abandoned film set. This emptiness and feeling of abandonment that link the paintings together (as well as the pattern of the Tierpark) that is backed by the above mentioned reduction of the background, gives them a certain lightness and bears the caring view of the artist for his subject implicitly in them.
Miss Silbermann also contributed to a mail art project i started this summer – check out her work and those of the other nine participants here.
Curated by Halina Muchow
08.12.2012 to 26.01.2013
Wednesday to Friday 14-19.00, Saturday 11-19.00