GRIMM presents an exhibition of new works by Volker Hüller. This marks the artist’s fourth solo exhibition with the gallery and his seventh solo exhibition in New York.
In Volker Hüller’s new series of large-scale paintings, an inscrutable face appears in shifting perspective, repeated across multiple works. Hüller employs precisely chosen colors for each canvas: vivid hues mellow and lines assimilate into elegant formations. These monolithic heads each look outward with a single eye. Reflected in every eye, palm trees are encircled by the setting sun. This small focal point represents a kind of island, symbolic of a remote location in the mind where we hold on to idealizations. Hüller prefers to keep this place at a distance, free of any impositions of the human experience: he reminds us that paradise is an abstraction, melancholic but nevertheless indispensable to maintaining sanity.
The artist integrates a succession of historical styles in both his paintings and etchings: the multi-panel battle scenes in both mediums evoke the fantastical world of Hieronymus Bosch’s (c. 1450 –1516) Garden of Earthly Delights, as well as the death of the Buddha paintings of Japan’s Kamakura period. These references are balanced by simple, vigorous figuration which possesses distinct affinities to Expressionism and other strands of modernist exploration. The resulting combination of styles and references are enthralling and act to conceal the artist’s dark, yet often humorous, subject matter. Repeated motifs include disfigured Greco-Roman bodies, dying horses, and specter-like masks, that are mixed in with seemingly out-of-place or banal objects. Though these images evoke the darker side of humanity- expressed through violence and indulgence- the weight of Hüller’s subject matter is offset by a light-hearted, droll sensibility.
Among his subject matter in previous works, scenes and fragments from the artist’s life were often conflated with mythological symbols, such as in the appearance of snakes, skulls and semi-human forms. Some of these allegorical elements can be found in the series of etchings on display, but for many of the works Hüller shifts his emphasis to portraiture. His approach to each print is that of entering a laboratory where line, texture, space and time are questioned, tested, and ultimately ceded to as guiding, intuitive forces.
Volker Hüller (1976, DE) was born in Forchheim and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. He studied under the late Norbert Schwontkowski at the Academy of Fine Arts, Hamburg (DE). Hüller’s work is included in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York (US); The Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas (US); Saatchi Gallery, London (UK) and the Israel Museum, Jerusalem (IL), as well as many private collections. His exhibitions include solo shows at Timothy Taylor, London (UK); Van Doren Waxter, New York (US); Produzentengalerie, Hamburg (DE); 11R, New York (US); GRIMM, Amsterdam (NL); and group shows at Museum Weserburg, Bremen (DE); Saatchi Gallery, London (UK); and the Falckenberg Collection, Hamburg (DE).all images © the gallery and the artist(s)