‘Friedrich’ is the name given to this exhibition of seven German artists by one of its protagonists. It is borrowed from an eccentric, somewhat elusive German fashion stylist who is relatively unknown outside the fashion world. Just as Friedrich, the man has appropriated a particular aspect of London as his own, so too have the artists in ‘Friedrich’: they either live in London or once made it their home. They not only share a language and country of origin, but also friendships.
‘Friedrich’ is a conceit, based on the proposal that shared stylistic outlooks may be determined by geography alone; and it is a contradiction, in that the nature of the work included in the show is generally balanced by an understatement and modesty. While each artist has their own distinct artistic language forged through their studio based practices, ‘Friedrich’s loose affiliations and abiding resonances nevertheless combine to make an intimate conversation of its own.
The sculpture, painting, photography and video brought together by ‘Friedrich’ share an interest in 20th century art history and a particular sensitivity to materials. Eva Berendes’s ‘Major Chord Curtain’ was made especially for doggerfisher’s space. It is a giant drawing near in disguise. The printed, hard-edged pattern is softened and broken by the wavy pleating of the muslin fabric — it also occupies a position between the fine and applied arts. Karin Ruggaber’s low slung ‘Relief’ carries a fragility and modesty with its raw plaster and intertwined forms snaking across the wall, while in Gallery 2 ‘Wall #4’ sandwiches a warm agglomeration of woods and fake ceramics.
Ellen Gronmeyer’s portraits and stylised figures are completely of the dark brooding landscapes, they emerge hard won: embedded in the surface of encrusted oil paint. Alex Heim’s found wing mirrors sparkle jewel-like in the light and transcend the violence of how they came to be scattered in the Rothehithe Tunnel and his ceramic sculpture ‘South Bend’ at once recalls a tunnel and a kind of splint or awkward support for the body.
Moving effortlessly between figuration and abstraction, Helene Appel’s painting traces movement across a surface, in contrast to a more abject surface projected high above the entrance in Heim’s video ‘Kanal 2’.
Marcus Amm often photographs his paintings and paints his photographs, and his signature torn and creased photograms included here occupy a space in between. At the centre of the gallery, Nicole Wermer’s painted yellow and black steel column ‘Kusine’ divides the space and is reminiscent of Brancusi’s ‘Endless Column’, updating this iconic form for the present day and a pivot around which ‘Friedrich’ swings.
Curated by Bruce Haines.