Bluerider Art Shanghai is presenting a duo exhibition "Foreshadow" by two German figurative artists, Ruprecht von Kaufmann and Susanne Kuehn.
They are inviting viewers to explore their deep inner world, hunt in their subconscious, and delve into a surreal dream they've constructed through different artistic languages.
Through the distorted space, blurred faces and ghostlike silhouettes, von Kaufmann's paintings create a surrealistic realm with his unique low-saturation palette dominated by blues, greens, pinks and deep purples.
The artist has a keen observation of human faces and figures, and prevails at capturing their images, but still veers from traditional "portrait paintings." In his work, the faces are often blurred, misshapen, or absent, perhaps implying a personal moment, or individual fragility, while also hinting at a universal experience.
His forceful and emotional paintings are unsettling, and purposefully so. Von Kaufmann places great emphasis on storytelling with narrative details, resulting in his figurative work being full of mystery, dark humor as well as dense melancholy.
Inspiration often comes from his life experiences, as well as literature, music and movies, with movies having a significant impact.
For von Kaufmann, painting is like directing a movie, and he is the director, expressing the essence of the entire film in one scene, creating strong emotional connections with the viewers.
"In real life we often experience a mix of emotions. Humour and tragedy are often inextricably linked to each other," he said. "Charlie Chaplin was a master of putting that mixture to use in his films. So I am looking for a subtle mixture of varying emotions."
He spends hours sketching, trying to find just the right degree of expression in his characters. Then there is color and composition, which help establish a certain mood in a painting. He chooses a very particular set of colors and color combinations, which seem slightly artificial, slightly outside of people's normal experience.
Zooming in on some of his paintings, viewers may find holes that are burnt through, and layered lines that are carved out, which creates dimensionality and physicality within the work in a sculptural approach.
A world of reality and fantasy
Female artist Kühn is internationally known for her color-intensive large-format paintings, where she elaborates scenes drawn from the most disparate influences in science, nature, art history, urban architecture and pop culture. These influences converge and collide in her work, blurring the border between reality and fantasy.
Pursuing her longstanding interest in the interaction of biology and human creative activities, Kühn reimagines and reconstructs her world made up of organic forms with technoid characteristics or humanoid entities.
In the work "This is the back of my garden," bloody red flowers and a deep purple beans sprout with a seemingly quirky face, reproducing and crawling over the urban space. In the painting "Palette," the plant that looks like a green pea pod has two leg-like tissues.
"In my current paintings, I depict narratives that emerge at the intersection of urban structures and proliferate organic and synthetic characters," Kühn said. "Innovative contemporary pigments play an essential role in the design of hybrid plant-like creatures; historical pigments refer to the long history of painting and the places it depicts, such as gardens or living rooms."
With tight composition, her works often feature a young woman dressed in modern garb against a backdrop mixed with both natural scenery and urban architecture. The figure might provide a human dimension, but also raise questions to viewers. But at the same time, it could be interpreted as a self-reflection of the artist.
Date: Through July 30
Venue: Bluerider Art Shanghai
Address: 133 Sichuan Rd M.
四川中路 133 号