Robert 2014Salon
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Robert Sturmhoevel

"walk down memory lane"

April 3rd - September 19th
Opening reception for the artist:
Thursday, April 3rd, from 6 to 9 pm



pdf with new works here...

In Robert Sturmhoevel’s work set pieces from a child’s pictorial world encounter the unfathomable. In his large format water-colours and canvases the young Berlin artist condenses themes of memory and experience, of the invented and the dreamt, into complex narratives. In their ambiguity they are reminiscent of the ironic landscape idylls of the Romantics.

The idyllic appears here not as unbroken ideal or alternative, but rather as an excessive, fractured idea, the idyllic and anti-idyllic combined.  Arcadian landscapes are replaced by empty factory buildings, demolished houses and dilapidated fairground booths, motifs which speak of decay and destruction and forgetting, and which the artist describes as “memorial moments”.

Photographs serve as models for the construction of Robert Sturmhoevel’s pictorial spaces, the photographs importantly always being connected with an experience, an idea. “If the photos told the whole story, it would be photographic work”. He looks for blank spaces and flaws.

The spaces in which the mainly child protagonists move, appear intimate yet remain nonetheless indistinct. They often turn out to be collages, in which contradictory elements overlap: such as in “Autoscooter 2”, in which the cabin of a fairground ride appears in a decayed industrial building, and the scene, taken out of its original context, seems both displaced and timeless.

In connection with which, the artist refers to the concept of “heterotopes”, described by Foucault and Lefevbre as „other places“, which among other things are characterized as and identified by “cultural relevance, functional alterability”, and the “integration of the incompatible”1. ”Places beyond other places” 2, as Foucault calls them.

It is just these incompatibilities that run like a thread through the pictorial creations of the young artist; incompatibilities that shift constantly between childish idylls and something darker and enigmatic, between the kitsch and the subtle. And which last but not least allow no single unambiguous reading.

The protagonists in Robert Sturmhoevel’s pictures evade the viewer’s gaze – they avert their faces or hide themselves or remain completely absorbed in their innocent (or rather serious?) game. They seem absent, abandoned. And yet they form the crucial point of a story, which appears the more fragmented the more one tries to approach it.

Pattern stands out in the pictures, underlying or overlaying the pictorial spaces – like the traces of an exposed wallpaper, like memories at the moment of dissolution.

Robert Sturmhoevel’s pictures are made up of a basic repertoire of elements, which, following a clearly defined procedure, he “misuses” – a term the artist often uses when talking about his work.  At the beginning of the process the vocabulary of the stories is established in small-scale drawings and sketches, which are then formulated and fixed in the water-colour studies, and finally in the canvases.

(Text: Kim Andre Schulz; Translation: Christina Wahle)