Artists: Boban Andjelkovic, Gülbin Ünlü
Exhibition title: “freude” (joy)
Venue: Galerie Britta von Rettberg, Munich, Germany
Date: May 17 – June 29, 2019
Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artists and Galerie Britta von Rettberg, Munich
From May 17 through June 29, 2019, the Galerie Britta von Rettberg will be showing the exhibition “freude” (joy) featuring works by Gülbin Ünlü and Boban Andjelkovic. The title of the exhibition stands for the joy of the artistic process and for the joy of experimenting with materials and techniques, but it also stands for the joy of playing with expectations. In their art, Gülbin Ünlü and Boban Andjelkovic both emphasize energy, random chance, and the imperfect. At the same time, their work conceals a keen sensibility for contemporary themes. Without preaching or passing judgement, both artists are able to address current themes through their own subtle pictorial languages, often with a humorous undertone.
Boban Andjelkovic does not take any detours in his art. At first glance, his works seem irrepressible, spontaneous and direct. On closer inspection, however, it quickly becomes clear that they are the result of close observation and that these works are based on a fine sensibility for color, form and the painterly gesture. For Boban Andjelkovic, painting is not something that can be controlled; it is entirely physically demanding. This expressive and painterly process requires skill and experience: the paint is thrown on sparingly or paste-like, scratched, spread and combined with moments of drawing.
In the end, brightly colored imaginative creatures cavort in front of indefinable backgrounds. These creatures, reminiscent both of people and animals, are embodiments of art history and pop culture. Behind these sometimes humorous, sometimes grotesque figures lies a pensive attitude. In the exhibition “freude”, Boban Andjelkovic presents works from his new series “Süper Elixier” (2019). In this series, he deals with the meaning of our “significant others” in general and the significant others of artists in particular. Their influence is often underestimated, and their names often end up as footnotes in the biographies of the great masters.
From a painterly perspective, Boban Andjelkovic approaches this sensitive topic on canvas and paper. Above all, it is the large-format works in this series that have a disarming quality about them. In comparison, due to the feel of their surfaces and the sparing application of paint, the works on paper seem finer and more fragile. The artist has constructed the series using four recurring motifs. These components are displayed either individually or in combination with each other: A female figure that usually occupies the entire pictorial space and a second, male figure, usually wearing boots and a hat. In addition, there is the “Süper Elixier,” which stands for the connection between Boban Andjelkovic and his wife, to whom this series is dedicated, and which appears again and again in the individual pictures, either in a written form or in the form of a drop.
The “Süper Elixier” series is characterized by a more pronounced dissolution of the pictorial space. Image backgrounds are omitted, and the paint is applied faster and even more expressively, increasingly blurring figure and text into their color gradients. New in the series is also the interplay with language and writing. Language is no longer merely a compositional element that provides sound. Boban Andjelkovic detaches writing from its usual context and elevates it to the status of an image object. Letters are combined with each other anew, omitted and set free for the viewer’s own associations.
Gülbin Ünlü’s work is characterized by an untiring quest for new forms of expression. This is also one of the decisive reasons why Galerie Rettberg has been working closely with her since she completed her artistic training (at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, 2018). Gülbin Ünlü’s watercolors are unmistakable: She creates them with a technique she developed herself, using printer ink on paper. The artist first presented these pieces in the group exhibition akkord, alongside works by Timur Lukas and Martin Wöhrl (July to September, 2018). Like the protagonists in Gülbin Ünlü’s visual worlds, her works themselves are in an interim state.
The artist’s versatility can also be seen in the “freude” exhibition. In addition to watercolors made with printer ink, the artist presents two new series, for which she has developed two completely different artistic processes. In these embroidery pieces, two traditional artistic techniques are converted and combined. For her new series “Reflektorbilder” (“reflector pictures”) Gülbin Ünlü works with reflective paint on grey paper. At first glance, these works seem monochrome and inconspicuous. They only reveal their shapes in certain lighting conditions or by the flash of a camera. Through a subtle visual language, Gülbin Ünlü succeeds in addressing contemporary issues with apparent ease. She questions entrenched patterns and traditions both technically and thematically, and takes a stand against the obsession with optimization so typical of our time. Her works also deal with the ambivalent relationship of humans to animals and to nature. The motifs for her new watercolor pieces are inspired by human-animal studies. They are based on animalistic ritual costumes that, for generations, have been used for the exorcism of winter or in rituals to drive away evil spirits.