Light and jovial at first glance, Florian Meisenberg’s latest exhibition at Wentrup, “Magic Moments of homeopathy vol 2 (the drama of the creative man)” may invite smirks, giggles and even some raised eyebrows, but his deceptively easy-breezy coded works are nothing but effective.
Reeling-in with childlike renditions of caricatured noses, balls, ice cream cones, abstract candy-colored orbs, hats, ostensibly haphazard scribbles, and body parts that free-associate and intermingle with visual rhymes, “Magic Moments” cautions us to look again, and more thoroughly scrutinize the patina of high hopes and promising expectations that surround us day to day. Amidst the array of playfully rendered quotidian objects, his installation becomes a “Where’s Waldo” of double entendres.
It’s not all naughty humoured trompe-l’oeil. Meisenburg is careful to apply whimsical critique to the very meaning of painting itself—one that seems to satirize its own exaggerated art historical importance. Though the exhibition walls are flanked with paintings of imposing scale, the artist’s desire to un-frame is readily apparent. The stretched canvases on the wall rest upon sills, objectifying the “window” and denigrating painting’s supremacy as more illusory than master of the illusionary. The eyes of these stretched canvases along the wall are turned to the center of the exhibition that features an installation of hanging cloth banners, a dirty plaster casting of a classical statue, and assorted digital media, left to the visitors’ devices.
Persisting throughout the exhibition hall is a conversation between the analogue and digital. A grossly oversized pixelated computer curser is found out of place in an otherwise nebulous, paint-as-paint context in one work from the series continental breakfast-overmorrow at noon (2012), and video of a spider’s journey across the artist’s keyboard plays on his laptop while the line “nothing on this earth is made to last forever” is heard softly sung through accompanying headphones. In a neighboring window on the same screen, we watch Kazimir Malevich’s Black Square as it is slowly erased using Photoshop into an irregular circle. An old TV plays a video loop that resembles the kind of travel brochure menu-channel you find when you first turn on a hotel TV. In it, the canvases that surround you in the exhibition are inserted onto beachscapes, mountain vistas and fields of green—playful reminders of his works’ own nonchalance, but also embodying them further as perhaps not just static objects, but as beings that can be sympathized with.
Considering the ubiquity of blatantly over-sexualized art (and culture) in Berlin, Florian Meisenberg’s exhibition, which uses similar content but with delicacy and a welcomed breadth of visually precise vocabulary, presents an opportunity for thorough reflection on perception and the many variables that affect it. With its levity, whim and casual self-reflexivity, it invites the viewer for a brief encounter. With its crafted and detailed presentation, we’re encouraged to stay and investigate.
by Nicole Rodriguez
[Image: Installation view, “Magic Moments of homeopathy vol 2 (the drama of the creative man),” courtesy Wentrup Gallery]