Artists: Rahel Pötsch and Nicl Barbro
Exhibition title: green sky, soft shoulder
Venue: mauer, Cologne, Germany
Date: June 16 – August 19, 2023
Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artists and mauer, Cologne
When an object that you always associated with a certain colour, suddenly appears in another, it can be disconcerting or a sign of crisis. green sky, soft shoulder evokes both: the need to pause, to interrupt a path, to look at something anew, or an acute disaster scenario, green nausea and accident.
The exhibition by Rahel Pötsch and Nicl Barbro at mauer builds a bridge between the practice of both artists exactly at the point where art transitions from the second to the third dimension. From painting into space, from space back into two-dimensionality, as the disappearance of the body, smashed against the guard rail or overrun by the dynamics of art.
Painting is in itself a bodily practice, every touch of the brush / finger / spatula on the surface of a painting leads back to the artist’s body as a reference or inscription of a movement. But when bodies themselves become a pictorial surface, a spatial pictorial surface in which they stand, we become witnesses of another process with two “painters in a blank room“: In Rahel Pötsch’s video “pink to paper to yellow or green” (2022), each colour makes its appearance, is announced as if it (and not the painters) were the protagonist in a play. And in fact the painting people disappear behind forms from the middle of the film on: Colour and shapes take over in stop motion autonomously the movement in the space and mark and constantly reinterpret it in the process. The painters have disappeared, and the space has long since ceased to be blank.
Nicl Barbro’s half-reliefs, mainly carved in wood, also deal with the disappearance of the body, but here rather as a state of catastrophe: knocked out on the ladder (bad timing) or a match that has mingled dangerously between the towers of a skyline. A recurring element in Barbro’s recent works are the two pieces of wood running towards each other – cones of light or an aligned road – as a quotation on Mary Heilmann’s “no passing.” The hand stretching out from the tattered shirt looks delicate and lifeless, the scene makes one think of a car accident, broken glass, two eyeballs.
The encounter of the two artists goes on a collision course with the body. In the end it is gone, when for centuries it was the most important thing in creating art: exhausted, worn out, overrun. K.O.