We are pleased to announce an eclectic summer show which presents the emerging art positions of Ryan Cosbert, Lucas Kaiser, Kemi Onabulé, Alina Sokolova, and Kemar Wynter. Combining abstract painting, drawing, works on paper, and figurative painting, the show depicts the themes of identity, observations on labor and societal phenomena, in nature, and of environmental perseverance. The title of the show »I Saw It Hang Down There« refers to the drawing and painting of Kemi Onabulé’s work ‘Saw It Hang Down’, from 2020, which is a painting, depicting a tree or shrub, showing the roots and surface of an expansive plant organism.
This exhibition can be read like the novel »A Journal of the Plague Year« both as a narrated work group by the artists, and as non-fiction. It is a historical account of the events of the Great Plague of London in 1665, based on extensive research and written as if seen through an eyewitness experience by the author, in this case by the artistic position. In addition to the show in the Berlin gallery space, we have installed four individual Online Viewing Rooms by Kemi Onabulé, Lucas Kaiser, Alina Sokolova, and Kemar Wynter to present an extended body of work by each artist’s practice.
Ryan Cosbert is a painter, installation and mixed media artist whose practice focuses on abstract works, along with political and historical narratives. Through color and mixed media, her paintings and sculptures investigate depth and composition as a way to create a relationship between the external and internal implications of the African diaspora. With the painter’s roots of Haitian and Guyanese descent, Cosbert is interested in creating a relationship within the viewer’s reception, in order to provoke and foster a multi-disciplinary dialogue. Cosbert researches the consequences of subjugation and oppression along with their historical and generational impact on black communities. Both color and texture play an important role in her practice which correlate on subjects and matter of investigation. By applying forms and grids in her current work, Cosbert’s vibrant abstract paintings imply a sense of control through what she refers to color fields and tiles. These forms create a geometrical balance built upon by the use of multiple layers of paint, texture, and physical objects which give the perception of three-dimensional compositions.
Ryan Cosbert (b. 1999 in Brooklyn, New York, US) graduated from The School of Visual Arts in New York City with a BFA in Fine Arts (2021), and was recently recognized as a Barnes Foundation Scholarship Grantee. Her works are in various private collections. Ryan Cosbert lives and works in NYC, New York, US.
Lucas Kaiser is a mixed-media artist whose practice encompasses drawing, collage and printing. The artist produces mixed-media works with varied layers and formal elements whereas the artist often depicts absurd motives. His works are created in a time-consuming meditative drawing technique, consisting of lots of tiny, little lines and strokes by pencil. The works of Lucas Kaiser investigate form, implicating notes of figurative human elements, inclined with a sense of humour, restlessness, and loss of control. Often playful and somewhat childish in their outlook, the works confuse through their apparent non-narration, and the multiplicity of formal elements, shades and colour. Using a collage technique including embossing and printing, the figurative drawings and paintings ask for a close observation in order to understand their structure and making.
"It is important to me to project a personally ambivalent relationship to the motif and the mode of representation onto possible viewers. I like to set aesthetic stimulation that attracts in order to cause a disruption when approaching more closely, also through formal refractions."
– Lucas Kaiser
Lucas Kaiser (b. 1994 in Erding, DE) graduated in Painting and Graphic design at HGB Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig, completing his Master of Fine Arts. Lucas Kaiser held an academic year abroad at the National College of Art in Dublin, IE. His work has been exhibited in various solo and group exhibitions in Germany and Ireland. Lucas Kaiser lives and works in Leipzig, DE.
Kemi Onabulé is a contemporary artist, working in the media of painting with oil, acrylics and pastel. Kemi Onabulé’s paintings respond to a present world in chaos characterized by unravelling economic structures, ecological destruction and the overturning of societal norms. Her work engages with this narrative by showing a slightly utopic yet layered view of humanity. The artist is interested in looking at the close ties within non-western societies to the environment and the visual languages that are used to embellish these ideas and mythologies. The lush, undamaged vegetation in her paintings – often painted from direct observation – creates a (back)ground enabling the viewer to re-imagine the role of the person when all indicators of modernity are taken away. In her recent work, Onabulé puts a heavy emphasis on the importance of women and their significance in linking humanity to nature. The female deity Oshun, a river goddess of femininity, beauty, and love among Yoruba religions, serves as key figure for the artist’s approach. The works are a way of exploring our often-uncomfortable relationship to femininity as expressed by women, especially women of color. By avoiding the tropes of the historical male gaze, the paintings place the viewer in a different world, closer to its origins. Using the female figure, she aims at reimagining a world unburdened by the demands of modernity and an overworked capitalistic framework. The human figure, therein, acts as a method to express the connections between us.
"I try to re-imagine the world as untouched by modern notions of commerce and the constant need to develop that which could be left alone. The figures that populate my work are often naked and have a mystical quality. I use imagery and stories from ancient culture such as the Yoruba people and Greek mythologies to engage with older understandings of what our connection to the planet is, in this current moment of upheaval and difficulty."
– Kemi Onabulé
Kemi Onabulé (b. 1995 in London, UK) graduated at Wimbledon College of Art with a BFA in Painting. Her work has been shown in various exhibitions in London including Unit London, and throughout the UK. Kemi Onabulé participated in various group shows with Bode Projects in Johannesburg, ZA, and in Germany, Berlin, DE, since. Kemi Onabulé lives and works in London, UK.
Alina Sokolova is a painter and mixed-media artist, working in traditional painting, video, performance and installation on a range of socio-political themes. Her work takes a critical view on social and cultural norms, and serves as a research to question political issues and societal phenomena. Explorations of identity, imaginary borders within the complexity of state governance, activism, dance, performative actions, and feminist practice are central themes amongst her video and mixed media works which she investigates. The motifs in Alina Sokolova’s paintings are human figures in group and social interactions intertwined with each other; their joints, hands, and legs assimilate and flow in a choreographed way. With exposing the stories of everyday labor and on leisure, she becomes a critical weaver and a meticulous archivist of societal observation.
"Humans stand at the center of any of my paintings. Their coexistence, synergy, interaction, their joint collective aware or unaware choreography, random bodily proximity. I’m interested in the different manifestations of people’s shared, individual, temporary, or inherent movements as a display of current times and changing social phenomena. Because this movement analysis is a big focus of my interest and I’m more analytical in that approach at times, I embed choreographic elements in my works."
– Alina Sokolova
Alina Sokolova (b. 1995, in Uzhgorod, Ukraine) studied Visual Arts at the College of Art A. Erdeli, Uzhgorod, UA, and continued studying in the class of sculpture and installation at the Academy of Fine Art and Design, Bratislava, SK. Alina studied Painting and Fine arts at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Vienna, AT; where she received a Masters of Fine Arts in 2021. Alina was shortlisted for the Pinchuk Art Centre Art Prize, Kyev, UA, in 2020. Her works were shown in various group shows in Vienna, AT, and throughout Europe, such as the Museum of Western and Oriental Art, Odessa, Ukraine, and the Museum of Art, Zilina, Slovakia, among others. Alina Sokolova lives and works in Vienna, Austria.
Kemar Wynter is a contemporary artist from Brooklyn, New York. Wynter’s works depict the interplay of his generations-long family history in Jamaica, and upbringing in New York with his passions for cookery and the unctuous richness of oil pastel. In the buildup of color and surface, Kemar recounts his experience with the dishes of which he partakes, be they the familiar dishes of his upbringing or the new palates he encounters as he navigates the world. With each painting, he builds a sensorial composite of each dish and through his exploration of texture, chroma and flavor, stews together a rich visual Patois.In referencing his cultural and culinary hybridity, his paintings and drawings often demonstrate a constant transformation in the pictorial language that he explores. While working, Kemar Wynter responds to the last stroke in order to set the next strokes and mark-making, creating erratic, yet condensed fields of color and markings that represent a conceptual approach through abstraction.
Kemar Wynter (b. 1995, in New York, US) has received his BFA in Painting and Drawing at the School of Art+Design, State University of New York at Purchase College. He is a recipient of the Navarro Council of the Arts Grant and fellowships at the Corsicana Artist and Writer Residency and Vermont Studio Center with upcoming fellowships at Flux Factory, ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Art Quarter Budapest. Kemar Wynter exhibited in various group exhibitions in the States. Kemar Wynter lives and works in New York, US.
Ryan Cosbert, Lucas Kaiser, Kemi Onabulé, Alina Sokolova, Kemar Wynter
7 August – 4 September 2021
Text: Katharina Balgavy