letter from cologne

by Rosanne Altstatt  

The Cologne art world's big spring event is Premiere Days, a weekend festival for which about 70 galleries held simultaneous opening's on Apr. 25. Hordes of art lovers squeezed into galleries big and small to catch a glimpse of the newest works and of each other.


Matthias Groebel at Galerie Berndt

Matthias Groebel



The perceptual differences between moving images and stills are also addressed by Matthias Groebel in his exhibition at Galerie Berndt. Groebel transfers images from television to a computer and then onto canvas. The images are not only removed from their original context, they are also manipulated in the computer -- a caption reading "Painted Walls" for instance, is added, details of the picture may be erased or altered -- before the works are mechanically painted onto canvas. These are portraits of regular people that appear to be taken from Reality TV shows like Hard Copy or Cops.

The painter's interest in both portraiture and documentation is what shines from the canvas. His figures have a certain aura of toughness or strength about their bodies and expressions. Groebel's manipulations, too, link his paintings to their media origins and support a theme of fake reality in representation on television as well as in art.


Finally, this summer's art activity spreads out beyond Cologne, as everyone must know by now. In June we have the openings of the Basel Art Fair, Documenta X, the Munster Sculpture Project and the Venice Biennal. It promises to be an art-filled spring and summer that will keep us on the move.

ROSANNE ALTSTATT is a critic and curator working in Cologne.