I didn’t know what utopia was until I saw this collection of enigmatic paintings. Yet somehow, I had a real instinctive sense that the work in, ‘Wait’ were a living, breathing, 2010-utopia visually defined. There I was in that situation where you have before you a word you lack the knowledge to define, yet you unexplainably know exactly how to bluff it into context – and you bravely do so with false arrogance, completely ignorantly, in the hope you won’t be Balderdashed.
Apparently then, according to Ackermann’s work, my ideal place or state is a curious culmination of dense jungle, luscious greenery and great expanses of space of land like Tarzan entangled vine scenery (a personal favourite film of mine); and great expanses of atmosphere and space beyond and out of this world. This place is vibrant, florescent and luminescent. A vivid place of life, growth, movement, and constant buzz of activity that narrowly avoid frantic. There is a surplus of information, just about consumerable. Oddly the garishness doesn’t frighten you, it excites you.
This affiliation with landscape (tangible or otherwise) is not by chance. Ackermann builds this sense of location through cohesion of individual elements in a photomontage fashion. Together they form a pseudo-neo-cubist impression of one scene made of many. Fragments of cityscapes, interior and exterior, cultivate a conurbation, which is this utopian urban jungle. It will be unsurprising to you, therefore, that Ackermann’s speaks of his work as comments on urbanisation, globalisation, travel and borders.
In concept and in aesthetics, Franz looks at the big picture. This is to the extent that these paintings lose their impact up close. You will find it a futile task to understand them other than by standing back and slowing absorbing. True though that only by becoming intimate with them will you discover that these aren’t computer-generated images, but hand-built 2D planes, composed to a sense of the 3 and even 4D.
It’s unsurprising also that you will find I immensely enjoyed this exhibition as it conjured up such unearthly and insightful imagination in a fairly matter of fact character. Almost like dramatic irony, (I failed to note before entering the title of the exhibition,) I was hooked by these mysterious, bold and very beautiful paintings. They appear strikingly new. Giving me hope that there are new things to express, and ways to express it in art.
I have struggled to find words to give it justice…I feel like a child with a stutter…Please do go and see.
Pictured -‘Through the Woods’ 2010, Franz Ackermann
‘Wait-Franz Ackermann’ is on show at the White Cube in Mason’s Yard until 1 April. http://www.whitecube.com/exhibitions/ackermann/lgf/