I know that the river is constantly changing
Ich weiß, dass sich der Fluss ständig ändert
Exhibition by Suzanna Treumann
at the FÄRBEREI
Opening: Thursday 10 th of May 2018 at 7 pm
Duration of the exhibition: 11th – 20 th of May 2018
Artist talk (German)
May 19 th at 3 pm
Artist talk (English)
May 20 th at 3 pm
Opening hours: Mo – Thu 6 until 8 pm and Fri – Sun 3 until 8 pm
and by appointment: SuzannaTreumann@gmail.com
Während eines Krieges kann ein unschuldiger Mensch, zB aus Grunde der ethnischen Herkunft oder Weltanschauung ‘einfach so’ verhaftet werden.
Den Besucher wurden Handschellen angeboten, damit sie die Erfahrung machen konnten gefesselt durch die Ausstellung zu gehen.
Viele Leute haben die Erfahrung machen wollen! Vielen fanden es beangstigend, manche haben nur eine hand gefesselt, anderen dann doch beides. Manchen hatten dieses unangenehme Gefühl wirklich eingeschränkt zu sein, Anderen gewohnten sich ziemlich schnell daran.
Sehr viele Freunden und Bekannten sind vorbeigekommen.
Ich habe mich sehr gefreut und es war wunderbar dieses Gefühl mit euch teilen zu können!
During a war, any innocent person can be handcuffed ‘just like that’, for example on grounds of their ethnic origin or their world view.
The visitors were offered handcuffs, so they could get the experience of walking through the exhibition in handcuffs.
Many people wanted to have this experience! Many people found it frightening, some wanted only one hand tied, many wanted both. Some people had this unpleasant feeling of being really restricted, others got used to it quite quickly.
Very many friends and acquaintances came to the opening.
It was very special to share this feeling with you!
photographs by Gerhard Joos
Karel Martens’ exhibition “Motion” at Kunstverein München
Exhibition by a Dutch graphic designer, artist and teacher, an independent-minded artist
When going up the stairs and into the exhibition, the multimedia world of Karel Martens unfolds itself. I am accompanied by wallpaper with tiny colorful, intricate icons on a white background. Alongside the next flight of stairs there is another wallpaper in pastel-colored vertical stripes, varying in width. The colors aren’t mixed, but created by printing six colors over one another. Then I enter a big space covered in black and white lines, in uneven widths that do not seem to depict anything. In fact, the wallpaper represents corals that were abstracted to the point that you cannot see them with the naked eye. They are zoomed out and shown as a linear grid.
Karel Martens has dedicated two display cases to his facetiously whimsical collections of odd things: objets trouvés, clocks, wool bobbins and a number of up-cycled self-fabricated pieces. One can easily imagine the artist scavenging, collecting and honoring the existence of this frivolous hodgepodge of rare colorful treasures over the course of his extensive career.
The black and white wall has a large door opening, which serves like a portal leading to next space. There, small and colorful monotypes (singular prints) are spread out on white walls. They radiate. They have a monumental feeling to them. Their compositions are as playful as they are precise. There’s something also quite Dutch about them, which reminds me of my roots in Holland, and my grandfather, Otto Treumann (1919-2001), who was a pioneering graphic designer in his day. My grandfather’s work was primarily influenced by the Swiss Style and the Bauhaus.
At the opening of the exhibition at Kunstverein München, I went up to meet Karel Martens to ask him if he had personally known Otto Treumann. And indeed, he said he had. My grandfather had actually helped him in his career; as a jury member he had awarded him a prize! I can understand why my grandfather appreciated Karel Martens work. Born 20 years later than my grandfather, Karel Martens continues to work in the tradition of Dutch graphic design and brings it to the Now.
When my grandfather established his practice, in the late 1940’s, there were only a few graphic designers, and it was a very different profession. Everything was of course analogue, and the range of colors was limited. My grandfather was engaged in experimenting and inventing, not only at his drawing table, but also working together with the printers and experimenting with the printing process itself. By reprinting and thereby superimposing a limited number of colors, he managed to create new variations of color. I see how Karel Martens took this technique to the next level in his pastel colored wall paper and in the monotypes of recycled objects.
These ‘upcycled’ monotypes in fresh colors have a rather mesmerizing effect. Little metal rings, small lattice works and Mechano strips are used as print work to transfer ink – with a classic screw press – on recycled cards. The metal pieces he used for printing are demonstratively exhibited on an adjacent wall. The bright colors, yellow, magenta and cyan blue, are printed layer over layer on cards from archives.
Some of these cards are from the archive of the Stedelijk museum in Amsterdam. Some have French texts on them, like the one that says: “impôt” and “travailleur” (employee, tax) which seems to mock bureaucracy. Karel Martens’ work reveals a humorously anti-authoritarian character as both a teacher and in his art. He teaches at Yale and at the two-year graphic design master’s program Werkplaats Typografie, which he cofounded in 1998. For Martens, teaching is about “giving and taking.” In an interview, he said that he teaches his students to deal with their abilities in unconventional ways.
The monotypes are surrounded in white. It is this non-object, this space that I think designers are very aware of. It makes texts readable, and signs visible. This goes for the wallpaper as well as for the monotypes of little metal objects he found on the street. As he said himself in an interview, he found them because he was looking down, searching, but also adding “I’m not a negative person.” The work looks cheerful; there is a joy in finding treasures that others would overlook.
In the last room, a camera films the viewer in motion, and projects the infinitely rendered outcomes as colorful, intricately designed icons onto a screen. As an interactive element in the show, it makes one feel part of the design. And that is a very important feature of design. It is created for people to live with and to use. Even though they are quite bold, Martens’ designs have a friendly and inoffensive quality about them. All is playful and humorous.
He challenges the viewer to think that maybe there’s no more need for separations, for categories. There are analog pieces and digital worlds made up of analog information. If anything, this experienced artist is showing us that boundaries are disappearing; that we can get inspired by one idea, to use in the next project and in the next medium. There’s a sense of rising above the material, that young artists can draw inspiration from.
The exhibition conveys a sense of craftsmanship both in the monotypes which Karel Martens printed by hand on an old letter press, as in his more recent digital work. That is what makes the exhibition so interesting; the time frame and how we get to see the work evolve and expand over time while the incessant growth of opportunities redefine the medium of typography. Karel Martens’ exhibition is of a wonderful clarity and unity, bringing together the many venues he has taken in researching the medium of typography.
I wrote this article for leading blog in contemporary art in Munich Reflektor M
Images: courtesy Kunstverein München, archives Otto Treumann
Das Leben ist ein Fest, ein kurzes intensives Fest*
A woman tumbling through the sky
Half man, macho like those male Expressionists**
Would she dream and fall and die
Letting go of her tomorrows
And dance her last eternal dance
Of joy, relieved from sorrows
Copyright Suzanna Treumann
* “Life is a celebration, a short and intense celebration”, a quote by Paula Modersohn-Becker, a female German expressionist who lived her short life intensely through her art
** the painting is inspired by male expressionist painters like Willem de Kooning. The art scene was particularly macho at that time. They would meet up at the Cedar bar. The painting arena was compared to the boxing ring.
Spring time came
If it would stay or go
If it would shine or snow
It just happened out of the blue
Announced itself with a big bang
The fickle time stayed
Fresh green grass would start to grow
And the sky, not knowing what to do
Turned bright lemon and cadmium yellow
Copyright Suzanna Treumann
Artist talk with Suzanna Treumann | Saturday the 20th of Feb at 3pm
Galerie Köppe Contemporary, Knausstrasse 19, Berlin
Learn more about the poetry behind my work and the process of painting. Looking forward to seeing you and your friends in Berlin!