Christian Ehrentraut
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Over the course of 2014, the gallery will showcase an extensive series of group and dialogue exhibitions: For the 2014 edition of the Berlin Gallery Weekend, we will be opening an exhibition with Yorgos Stamkopoulos , Julie Oppermann and Alexander Wolff that explores the forms, possibilities and limits of painting.
Through their surfaces, structures and the ways in which they are assembled, the works in the exhibition move in direct relation to the surrounding exhibition space and installed artwork. In their use of optical irritations, often intense color and repetitive rhythm, they oscillate between playful sensuality and analytical concept.
 The title of the exhibition comes from the diaries of Paul Klee, who in 1908 was beginning to build up his works on a black ground (rather than white), remarking that darkness was the "natural state" of things, and light was that which made it visible.

Julie Oppermann's work pushes the limits of visual perception, making paintings that are physically difficult to perceive. The scintillating effects arising through the calculated layering and juxtaposition of contrasting colors through repetitive line patterns elicit shuttering afterimages, optical flicker, and disorienting sensations of movement. The paintings, on one hand, reference the digital, looking as if they might be computer-generated, vector-based interference patterns; up close, however, they reveal a gestural, intuitive approach.
Glitches, bleeds and mis-registrations rupture the illusory field of the moiré, creating visual noise and also highlight the basic tools at work: taped-off line patterns and paint on canvas.
Yorgos Stamkopoulos' paintings are composed from a variety of multi-layered, flashy, minimalist color fields. Once a layer has been applied with the air-brush, it is masked in a gestural act with countless drippings in a "Pollock-style" manner only to be painted over again. Stamkopoulos repeats this process over and over until the canvas is fully covered; only then are the layers of masking removed to reveal the final image. Similarly to Oppermann, Stamkopoulos builds up layer upon layer, but relinquishes the final control over the painting, leaving room for the unconscious, the unplanned and the random.

Alexander Wolff's works from the past six years are assembled from different fabrics, printed on, dyed and sewn together. Individual parts of an image are repeated, rotated and mirrored, combining print- and painterly techniques. Wolff continuously questions the possibilities of painting in general, of the image and of representation. He integrates found materials, paint, light and photography as well as the exhibition space itself: A large installation on the gallery's brick wall is staged both as an autonomous image as well as the backdrop for the whole exhibition.

Julie Oppermann was born in 1982 in San Francisco. She received her BFA from The Cooper Union, and a Master's in Neuroscience from the University of California, Berkeley. In 2012 she completed a residency at FAAP in São Paulo, an exchange at the Berlin University of the Arts, and completed her M.F.A. at Hunter College. Her work is included in numerous public and private collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts Houston (TX), and the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (CA). She lives and works in Berlin.

Yorgos Stamkopoulos was born in 1983 in Katerini, Greece. He studied painting at the Athens School of Fine Arts and at the University of Arts in Berlin. In 2010/11 he received a scholarship from the Onassis Foundation. In the past years, Stamkopoulos has exhibited in groupshows at Kunsthalle Athena, Athens (2013), The Breeder Gallery, Athens (2011), Kunsthall Charlottenborg, Copenhagen (2009) and in all major Berlin project- and exhibition spaces, including the Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Schaufenster, Atelierhof Kreuzberg , the Forgotten Bar Project, Galerie im Regierungsviertel and Kreuzberg Pavillon, Kassel. He lives and works in Berlin.

Alexander Wolff was born in 1976 in Osterburg, Altmark. He studied at Städelschule, Frankfurt and the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. Solo exhibitions include Overbeck Gesellschaft, Lübeck (2012) and "Fragmente der Geschichte fur Sie zur Wiederholung als Performance" at Westfälischer Kunstverein Münster (2009). His works were included in "Made in Germany Zwei" at the Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover (2012) and group shows at Portikus, Frankfurt, Kai 10, Düsseldorf (both 2011) and Museum Moderner Kunst in Vienna (2005). Wolff lives and works in Berlin.

Night Under Light

Three positions: canvas, wall, hand. Each like a station in the act of painting.

No brushstrokes, but a raster (Latin, “to scrape”) of dots on black gesso ground—dmk m02, dmk m03, dmk m04 (all 2014). Their gesture? A pulling away of overlain surfaces like living lamina, or skin, in the invention of after-effects. In Julie Oppermann’s images, every choice, every selection of options brings about a myriad of visual transformations like an act of mechanical reproduction found in nature. What is screen-printing, but the extrusion of pigment through woven mesh and stencil? As successive layers peel away, there is a palpitating superimposition of incremental shifts. 1404 (2014), a patterning out of layered screens, rendering relations like quantifiable numbers. Working at a remove from the picture plane—though she carries out systematic rotations by hand—the image shifts and remains unsettled as the gaze drifts back and approaches again.

Painting acts of its own accord. What it does is adhere to surfaces and won’t let go, it’s an unrelenting autonomy of things and acts. Infinitesimal specks of wet paint make contact and disperse. To say, one paints while blind, it’s a kind of willful darkness, a darkening of perception. For Yorgos Stamkopoulos, is it a letting go, or escaping all manner of control. In 1913, Marcel Duchamp dropped the thread and the meter curled and resisted the straight line, which gives it its measure, 3 stoppages étalon (3 standard stoppages). With Supersonic Psalm (2013) an invisible process produces visible artifacts, a vivid camouflage of dark and fluorescent hues in high-contrast color dispersion. An anti-mimetic abstraction, or an arbitrary dropping of color; his hands operate at a remove from the ground, which the materials mask, dissimulate, cloak.

Alexander Wolff’s Berlin, The Big Canvas (2012) is a screenprinted canvas nested into the very wall that supports it. A movement from the inside out, and back again, the work makes reference to painting’s base while gesturing beyond it. Indeed, a “nested” painting then: To nest is to burrow down, to be embedded, but embedded in these traces on the canvas is an act of deferral, a resistance to participate in the very act of painting. In his black untitled painting from 2011, he stitches a line with a sewing machine. However, up is not fixed anymore; it is relational. Like the grid of seams, rotated at 90 degrees, its tracks and folds are replicated with a glittery topstitch he has rendered by hand, producing a layer that hovers above ground. An intentional drawing out of accidental seams.

Moving through the galleries, these works reveal differing outcomes, interlacing relations between doing, making, seeing. Yet in aggregate, they remind us: there is no ground, only one that shifts.

—Alena J. Williams