© Images Cheonho Ahn
THE ELLA IN UMBRELLA
1 JUNE – 3 JULY 2022
KÖNIG SEOUL is pleased to present a solo exhibition of paintings by German artist Johannes Wohnseifer. More than 20 works from the last five years will be on display, providing an overview of the artist's distinct work groups – text-based, password, and aluminium paintings – on a variety of surfaces, from canvas to MDF to aluminium.
In his art, Wohnseifer engages with themes derived from popular culture as well as art and design history, analysing the particularities of everyday life through the lens of mass media. He collects found images and texts, combining historical events with contemporary phenomena, investigating the possibilities of painting through his chosen materials and imaginative use of industrial processes.
The title of the exhibition, THE ELLA IN UMBRELLA, alludes to both pop icon Rihanna's former hit song, “Umbrella”, as well as a simple linguistic repetition, one of the most significant structural principles for Wohnseifer's creative process.
I DREAMED (2017), painted with varnish and acrylic on aluminium, is based on the repetition and partial overpainting of the work’s title, in which Wohnseifer leaves a text that reads, “I dreamed I am dead”. For STRAWBERRY COMMUNISM (2022), Wohnseifer created a meta-text pulled from a YouTube comment section, transferred it onto aluminium, and then painted over it. Since the advent of NFTs in the art world, Wohnseifer has also been observing the evolution of auctions and the corresponding shifts in audiences. The artist portrays this concisely with sampled comments from an online auction of a major auction house.
Wohnseifer often includes subversive messages in his text paintings by borrowing found logos from corporate branding, culturally charged symbols, and political propaganda. In MARLBORO MAN (2017), the artist combines the logos of both Marlboro and MAN, substituting the image of the iconic smoking cowboy for the emblem of a transport company.
The typographic quality of his PASSWORD PAINTINGS, on the other hand, subverts any contextual readings. In this series, Wohnseifer works with pure text, which he generates using the random logic of password generators and the source codes of digital images. Wohnseifer also uses such codes for his ALUMINIUM PAINTINGS, which are created in a highly technical manner. With the help of a computer-controlled milling machine, Wohnseifer removes material from aluminium blocks, which he then employs as relief-like image supports, adding a sculptural component to the traditionally flat medium of painting. Photos and cut-outs of earlier paintings serve as templates for these milled structures. In these works, the application of paint is similarly subject to an industrial process through anodization, where paint and support merge, calcifying in an indivisible bond with one another. While the uniform colouration of these works may refer to the history of the monochrome, Wohnseifer adds something entirely new with the addition of these two industrial processes: the fusion of colour and material to one another, and the use of code to produce his aluminium supports.
For his SCREEN series, Wohnseifer employs another hybrid process in which the traditional application of paint is synergized with mechanical means. A first layer of paint is applied by hand and remains visible after Wohnseifer, in a second step, uses a laser cutter to remove certain painted sections, thus creating another layer of the painting’s surface through its deletion. The anthracite-coloured, flat aluminium frames make the works appear like screens on which Wohnseifer has created the impression of digital imagery – palm trees and irises – that is actually achieved through the analogue means of painting.
The expansion of traditional painting through digital and industrial processes applies to all the works in the exhibition. Through content-related, material cross-referencing, the full breadth and complexity of these characteristics of Wohnseifer's painterly work are made visible.
Also featured in the show is a designer DJ trunk that Johannes Wohnseifer created in a collaboration between luxury fashion house MCM and KÖNIG GALERIE. The limited edition is exclusively available on koeniggalerie.com and will be presented for the first time in Seoul on the occasion of the exhibition.