Robert Grunenberg
CURRENT
16 APRIL – 31 JULY 2019
PAST
Dec 16 2018 – Feb 9 2019
By Bret Easton Ellis

 

Exhibition: Paradise is Now

 
 
Blair picks me up from LAX. Coming to my house on Mulholland Drive, she has to stop the car, since there are these five workmen lifting the remains of palm trees that have fallen during the winds and placing the leaves and pieces of dead bark in a big red truck, and Blair smiles again.
        “Los Angeles is a dark, haunted wasteland, at night vampires hide in the palm trees waiting for the lights to go out and then roam the streets,” she says grinning and drops me at my door. We meet later at her family’s Christmas party.
 
“Well, come on in. Merry Christmas,” she welcomes the guests. There are two Christmas trees, one in the living room and one in the den, and both have twinkling dark-red lights coloring them. There are people at the party from high school, most of whom I haven’t seen since graduation, and they all stand next to the huge trees. Trent, a male model I know, is here.
        “Hey, Clay,” Trent says, a red-and-green-plaid scarf wrapped around his suntanned neck.
        “Trent,” I say. “How are you, babes?”
        “Well,” he smiles proudly. “I got accepted by this modeling agency, a really good one,” he assures me.
        I get up from the bar chair, and through the Venetian blinds I can see the palm trees shaking wildly, actually bending, in the hot winds.
        Trent continues, “Guess who’s on the cover of International Male. Me, dude. My agent told them no nude stuff, just like Speedos. I don’t do any nude stuff.”
        I believe him but don’t know why and look around the room to see if Rip, my dealer, is at the party. But I don’t see him and I turn away, and Trent and I walk over to Blair. Blair’s father’s boyfriend is also at the party. His name’s Jared, and he’s really young and blond and tan and has blue eyes and incredibly straight white teeth. I can also see Blair’s mother, who’s sitting by the bar, drinking a vodka gimlet, her hands shaking as she brings the drink to her mouth.
        “Where do you go to school?” Trent asks. I don’t say anything and smile. “I go to the University of Spoiled Children,” Blair says, still grinning, running her fingers through her long blond hair.
 
Suddenly, Jared and three boys laugh loudly, in unison. Jared heard this stupid joke from his boyfriend. “What are the two biggest lies? I’ll pay you back and won’t come in your mouth.”
        Blair rolls her eyes and dances over to me, singing the words to “Do you Really Want to Hurt Me?” probably stoned out of her mind,
and she says that I look happy and that I look good, and she hands me a box from Jerry Magnin and whispers, “Merry Christmas, you fox,” in my ear and kisses me.
        I spot Rip, my dealer, in the corner of the living room, and I go over to him. He pulls me into an empty room. Rip hits me lightly on the shoulder and laughs.
        “How the fuck have you been?”
        “Great,” I say.
        “Thanks for returning my phone call, you dick.” He laughs and
lights a cigarette. I know that Rip hasn’t tried to call me, but I say, “Sorry.” With a razor, he cuts a pile of coke into four big lines, and
then he hands me a rolled-up twenty and I lean down.
 
Blair and I leave the party after one of the boys falls into the Christmas tree in the living room. I decide to bring her to Daniel’s party. She’s wearing a pink hat and a blue miniskirt and yellow gloves and sunglasses, and she tells me that at Fred Segal today someone told her that she should be in a band. I hardly know anyone at the party, and I finally find Daniel sitting drunk and alone by the pool, wearing jeans and a white Special T-shirt and sunglasses.

 

Blair picks me up from LAX. Coming to my house on Mulholland Drive, she has to stop the car, since there are these five workmen lifting the remains of palm trees that have fallen during the winds and placing the leaves and pieces of dead bark in a big red truck, and Blair smiles again.
        “Los Angeles is a dark, haunted wasteland, at night vampires hide in the palm trees waiting for the lights to go out and then roam the streets,” she says grinning and drops me at my door. We meet later at her family’s Christmas party.
 
“Well, come on in. Merry Christmas,” she welcomes the guests. There are two Christmas trees, one in the living room and one in the den, and both have twinkling dark-red lights coloring them. There are people at the party from high school, most of whom I haven’t seen since graduation, and they all stand next to the huge trees. Trent, a male model I know, is here.

PAST
19 FEBRUARY – 5 APRIL 2019
By Bianca Heuser

 

Losing My Virginity presents the work of five emerging artists at the most recent stage of their evolution. For an artist, graduating marks the point at which they become their own standard-bearer. This is accompanied by an unfamiliar fluidity, the result of new-found freedoms and possibilities of self-realisation. It is a process that encourages original and radical forms of self-expression, yet its associated immediacy and purity can rarely be found in an artist’s later works – not least due to a continuing process of artistic refinement. Thus, the end of art school represents the beginning of a transformation: the powerful moment when an artist either applies their acquired academic knowledge in practice or discards it to attain a feeling of self-imparted authority. This pivotal moment is the focus of Losing My Virginity, the second exhibition at Robert Grunenberg Berlin.
 
Berlin-based sculptor Stefan Knauf questions Western symbols, mythological rhetoric and material values in his artistic practice. What does the proliferation of a material say about the taste and sentimentality of the place and time in which it was used? Knauf’s masterfully crafted, technically proficient sculptures combine forms and materials that achieve a delicate equilibrium while at the same time connecting questions of art history and aesthetics. His work “Piazza del Cuore Sviato I-V”, on show at the exhibition, depicts two lambs that weren’t destined to live.  Given the Western conception of the animal, from the “innocent lamb” to the “scapegoat”, the observer is confronted with the question of what would happen if the lamb evaded sacrifice? Who would pay for our sins without the scapegoat? The finiteness of life and the banality we ascribe to it is contrasted by Knauf’s selection of materials: stone and bronze are primarily defined by their longevity and the idea of the inherent, unchangeable nature of their value. In this way, Knauf’s work emphasises the fleeting insignificance of each moment, yet counters it with the imperishability of the work’s source materials. Thus, Knauf interweaves notions of eternity and transience, and simultaneously subverts the fetishization of materials, myths of salvation and our cultural understanding of time and value. The materials he chooses lend his works rigour and severity, which make them no less shocking in their persuasion.
 
The exhibition also features nine new photographs by the American artist Paul Levack. Seven of them form a series based on found 35mm transparencies that he has been collecting for many years. According to Levack, this body of photos was originally conceived as a solution to “inventing” images and “instead turned from a sort of “cynicism of pictorial content” towards a revelry in what already exists”. The slides come from a variety of sources – from waste containers to odd categories of eBay – and span a range of production spheres, from the commercial and the pornographic to snapshots and the vernacular. The works that Levack has chosen to compliment this series, however, couldn’t be more different, both in terms of format and production method: two seemingly intimate, larger-than-life portraits of fellow students at Frankfurt’s Städelschule. They form an unrealised “love triangle” with the artist himself: one subject is a romantic crush, the other is the crush’s former lover. But the aesthetic of these images seems less charged: it makes reference to yearbook photos, actor’s headshots and stock photography; all overly optimistic in their mood and supposed expressive capacity.

 

Losing My Virginity presents the work of five emerging artists at the most recent stage of their evolution. For an artist, graduating marks the point at which they become their own standard-bearer. This is accompanied by an unfamiliar fluidity, the result of new-found freedoms and possibilities of self-realisation. It is a process that encourages original and radical forms of self-expression, yet its associated immediacy and purity can rarely be found in an artist’s later works – not least due to a continuing process of artistic refinement. Thus, the end of art school represents the beginning of a transformation: the powerful moment when an artist either applies their acquired academic knowledge in practice or discards it to attain a feeling of self-imparted authority.

PAST
13 July – 7 September 2018
PAST
April 26 – June 30 2018
PAST
22 September – 30 November 2018