We’ll turn Manhatten into an island of joy at Markus Lüttgen

Artists: Anna Betbeze, Matt Connors, Walter Price, Matthew Ronay, Sean Sullivan, Patricia Treib

Exhibition title: We’ll turn Manhatten into an island of joy

Venue: Markus Lüttgen, Cologne, Germany

Date: June 23 – August 4, 2017

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artists and Markus Lüttgen, Cologne

“The Atlantic was born today and I’tell you how
The clouds above opened up and let it out
I was standing on the surface of a perforated sphere
When the water filled every hole
And thousands upon thousands made an ocean
Making islands where no islands should go”
(Death Cab for Cutie, Transatlanticism, 2003)

“The great big city’s a wondrous toy
Just made for a girl and boy
We’ll turn Manhatten
Into an isle of joy

But civic virtues cannot destroy
The dreams of a girl and boy
We’ll turn Manhatten
Into an isle of joy”
(Ella Fitzgerald, Manhatten, 1956)

They say New York is an island – an outpost of Europe. Filled with the ideas, memories and wishes of the old world, that grow into something new on the fertile breeding ground of America. They form the foundation of a creative potential, that turns the emerald city at the end of the horizon into a curious phenomena, which is determined through the charm of it’s artists. The city of New York itself here is both: an image of a constant dialog of cultural fusions as well as an example of a continuous renewal of artistic traditions. Over and over again forms the city the link between continents, artists and the physical distance of an exchange of individual visions full of alternative concepts to the reality of the everyday live.

At this moment of political differences and radical changes, this isle of creativity in the land of freedom seems farther away than ever before. Similarly the legacy of a mental connection appears to be blurred and distances the simultaneous presence of current tendencies and movements. Against the background of this survey, Markus Lüttgen is delighted to announce the exhibition “We’ll turn Manhattan into an isle of joy”. Central to this exhibition is the understanding of the show as symbol of a (transatlantic) long-distance relationship with the city of New York, who’s fragile thread has to be maintained. The shown works here build a bridge, that not only visualizes the city’s diversity, but focusses on the parallelism of traditional references and new trends through the extensive variety of artistic approaches.

Impulses of this new beginning can be discovered in woks on paper: here sketches, drawings and collages emerge into new forms and outline a microcosm like the city of New York with it’s own language and rules. Like an intervention into the reality of the paper, they set free new spaces through holes and gaps that can be found in the sculptural constructions of Anna Betbeze – created through the use of fire. Chaos and order open up a pattern of repetitive motifs while simultaneously marking a negative space of reality. A world that can be equally traced in the sketched memories of Walter Price’s multi-perspective illustrations filled with cultural symbols and questions of social identity. Reminiscences of his childhood in the South here seem as present as his recollections of operations with the fire brigade while enlisted in the Navy. Also the remnants of the city come to light through the found papers and pages of Sean Sullivan, that extend the temporal artefacts of our urban culture – like a recording – through the techniques of printing and drawing with the unpredictable dimensions of chance. Contrary to a process of systematical copying, the aspect of composition here forms an essential reference point, that transfers the artistic use of aesthetics and painterly traditions into a new dialogue of art-historical references confidently created by Matt Connors. Similar to the construction of urban interspaces, also Patricia Treib’s parings of colored forms draw a dense and intertwined network, that oscillates in his calligraphic structures between proximity and distance. The emerging focus sharpens our visual perception. Not only for the subtile layers of colored compositions, but also for the playful interdependency of organic forms which in contrast to the papers surfaces become independent in the drawings of Matthew Ronay.

To risk a closer look on the continuous evolution of new structures within the city of New York seems right and maintaining the bridge of this transatlantic love affair through the medium of art more then vital, because it turns “Manhattan into an isle of joy”.

-Philipp Fernandes do Brito

Anna Betbeze, Untitled (Holes), 2017, Burned paper on mylar, 36 x 27,3 cm

Matt Connors, Modern Primitive New Phallus Logotype (after G.B.P.) I, 2017, Colored pencil on paper, colored mat board on artist frame, 46,9 x 39,3 cm

Matt Connors, Modern Primitive New Phallus Logotype (after G.B.P.) II, 2017, Colored pencil on paper, colored mat board on artist frame, 46,9 x 39,3 cm

Matt Connors, Untitled, 2016, Colored pencil, acrylic paint on paper, colored mat board and artist frame, 46,9 x 46,3 cm

Walter Price, Black Iris 25, 2017, Ink and graphite on tagboard, 30,4 x 22,8 cm

Walter Price, Black Iris 26, 2017, Ink and graphite on tagboard, 30,4 x 22,8 cm

Walter Price, Black Iris 12, 2017, Ink on paper, 27,9 x 21,5

Matthew Ronay, Tired Information Platter, 2017, Charcoal on acid-free cotton paper, 101,6 x 66 cm

Matthew Ronay, Two Podia, 2017, Charcoal on acid-free cotton paper, 101,6 x 66 cm

Matthew Ronay, Flare with Bulboid and Serpentine, 2017, Charcoal on acid-free cotton paper, 101,6 x 66 cm

Sean Sullivan, Portal, at Sea, at Night, 2017, Oil on found paper, 20,3 x 27,9 cm

Sean Sullivan, Folk Tale, 2016, Oil on found paper, 16,5 x 22,8 cm

Sean Sullivan, Pile (Pink), 2017, Oil on found paper, 20,3 x 27,9 cm

Sean Sullivan, Razor, 2017, Oil on found paper, 20,3 x 27,9 cm

Sean Sullivan, Ballot Box (Blue), 2017, Oil on found paper, 21,5 x 27,9 cm

Patricia Treib, Campos Variation, 2017, Oil on paper, 19 x 13,9 cm

Patricia Treib, Hunters Variation, 2017, Oil on paper, 19 x 13,9 cm

Patricia Treib, La Roda Variation, 2017, Oil on paper, 19 x 13,9 cm

Patricia Treib, Umber Shape Variation, 2017, Oil on paper, 19 x 13,9 cm

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