December 2007, MICHAEL KREBBER @ Maureen Paley

Michael Krebber, London Condom, courtesy Maureen Paley, London UK


at Maureen Paley, 21 Herald Street, London E2 6JT, 17 November – 21 December 2007
Reviewed by Wiebke Gronemeyer

Although or maybe even why the artists himself claims to have never made use of any concept or method for his art apart from the thus implicit concept of refusing any method, Michael Krebber is recently often mentioned in debates about a new style of formalism. With his work Krebber constantly investigates painting’s contemporary potentials and the dichotomous relationship between representation and abstraction by rejecting pictorial qualities and exploring the limits of the picture plane, relating surface and space, materials and its references. His conceptual paintings and installations have since reflected on this problem of modernity.

Michael Krebber, London Condom, courtesy Maureen Paley, London UK

In this new body of work Krebber continues to investigate his conceptual approach to painting, precisely by surprisingly introducing the issue of figure. Believing that there is little new that can be done with painting or art, Krebber engages with the conditions and convictions of this medium and plays his own lack of confidence against a question Georg Baselitz posed in the late 60’s: Can a simple gesture reinvigorate a discipline?

The paintings Micheal Krebber shows in London Condom at Maureen Paley in London’s East End is the final episode of an exhibition in three parts: Respekt Frischlinge took place at Galerie Daniel Buchholz in Cologne, followed by Je suis la chaise concurrently been shown at Galerie Chantal Crousel in Paris. In each of the exhibitions’ episodes 25 canvases were arranged together in small groups of four or six alongside the gallery walls. On each identically-sized canvas a hired commercial sign painter transcribed a lecture about the problem of calling oneself a painter today over screen-prints of old comic books, originally delivered by Krebber in Cologne. A from of recognition associated with an understanding of the dry text of a yet performative lecture overlying the psychic subtexts of Dandy-comics becomes denied. Hence, Krebber admits to the dichotomy of representation and abstraction by an abstract conclusion of two representations layered upon each other. While walking alongside the groups of canvasses the odd relationship between the surreal, staged emotions in the banal comics and the painter’s thoughts embedded in deep struggle and doubt become obvious and recall Baselitz’s question, which is relevant for the artist’s development of a content-oriented attitude remaining in a state of formal doubt. The paintings come along as a linguistic turn of the painter’s practice admitting to the essentially rhetorical debate about the continuing relevance of painting as a conceptual practice.

Michael Krebber, London Condom, courtesy Maureen Paley, London UK

The game between both stories on the canvasses moves beyond its material surface and is exercised by the viewer, who is asked to play with the displayed rhetoric and dichotomy, but doesn’t need to come to a conclusion; simply, because there isn’t any conclusion, apart from that there shouldn’t be any. So what might happen next in painting and the particular discourse formulated here? The works do not only conceptually question the definition of painting but also retrace and reassess their own participation in this discourse by spinning new episodes of stories into episodes of exhibitions reassembling the episodic character of painting itself.

Wiebke Gronemeyer WM London

Wiebke Gronemeyer is an independent curator and art writer based in London and Hamburg.
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