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The additive “and” of the montage, with which one picture [is edited] onto another, is not an innocent one and certainly not unproblematic.
Carl Kostyál is pleased to present an exhibition of new work by Oliver Osborne, Emanuel Röhss and Max Ruf. In two rooms the three artists have produced a body of work that in equal measure disturbs and celebrates canonical notions of representation, reproduction and montage. Throughout the show there is a complexity in the approach to constructing the image, stemming from each artist’s manipulation of source material and the layering of technical and formal processes.
The source of Max Ruf’s bold line originates in the collating of images and photographs, from which his image is ‘found’. Sometimes this source takes the form of a physical collage in his studio; sometimes it’s a blur of visual memories. Currently, Ruf has been working en plein air reacting immediately to the moving landscape, articulating his own movements and displacements as he journeys through different surroundings. Fragments of images are arranged, one on top of the other, until they reach a compositional confusion. From this visual montage, Ruf extracts lines that transform on the canvas into a viscous impasto of abstracted gestures. Ruf has transformed the fragments and montages of remembered or recorded things into a singular image, within which the physicality and motion of the line breaks away from the stillness of direct reproduction.
Oliver Osborne plays with this relationship between reproduction and abstraction in the crafted layers of his painting. In ‘Thought (Leytonstone)’ the surface of the double canvas is built up in exhaustively gradual layers, to create a smooth, yet deceptively deep, ground of colour, one part a kind of white, the other an indefinable and deliberately digitally irreproducible blue. A contemplative figure, appropriated from generic stock cartoons found in children’s language textbooks, is silkscreened on to the canvas. The swift transfer of the cartoon figure, absurdly out of place and rendered speechless on to the laboured surface of the painting generates a gap between the formalities of painting, image making and reproduction. This is picked up again in the small painting of the rubber plant, into which Osborne’s delicate brushwork breathes an unnatural life. The lifelike representation of a fake, inanimate plant evokes the indefinite and unreliable nature of representation and reproduction. In this work, the rubber plant becomes a cyclical metaphor for the poetic space between the original object and its ironically painstaking painterly reproduction.
Here Emanuel Röhss’ series, ‘Mother Sweden’, enters the conversation of representation and reproduction. Using the architectural source of his mother’s home in Sweden, the panelled paintings take visual information from the house and its interior, building up gradual layers of colour, extracting and conceptualising the image to create a ‘portrait’ of the home observed. The original interior of his mother’s home is transformed and dislocated into a new environment, becoming its own form of interior as the works simultaneously become part of Savile Row’s décor, fitting flush with the high ceilings and panelled walls. Similarly, the sculptures, which began as small lawn features found in his mother’s garden, have been cast, enlarged, distorted and transformed into man-sized ornaments completely removed from the original, yet serving a related purpose.
Röhss’ warped figures and the painted panels’ relationship to the original house and garden features, take a closely aligned approach to the relationship Osborne’s painting has to the rubber plant, and Ruf’s impasto line has to its collage. Throughout the exhibition each artist has subverted techniques of reproduction and montage, layering images and visual ideas to a transformative effect. In the increasingly immaterial world of digital and virile image reproduction, Osborne, Röhss and Ruf have created a hub wherein the image becomes at once a movement, a process and a physical entity.
Oliver Osborne (b. 1985, Edinburgh) studied at the Royal Academy, London. Osborne has shown with Vilma Gold, London and Frutta Gallery, Rome, has recently participated in group shows at Pace, London and Jonathan Viner, Margate.
Emanuel Röhss (b. 1985, Sweden) completed his MA at the Royal College of Art, London. Currently an artist in residence at FAAP, Sao Paulo, Röhss has shown recently with T293, Naples, Postcodes, Project Native Informant, London and Casa do Povo, Sao Paulo. Röhss has an upcoming solo show at Carl Kostyál’s space in Stockholm, August 2014.
Max Ruf (b.1982, Germany) completed his MA at the Royal College of Art, London. Currently an artist in residence at FAAP, recent shows include Postcodes, Casa do Povo, Sao Paulo; CSA space, Vancouver and New contemporaries, ICA, London. Ruf has upcoming shows at Union Pacific, London and Muria Centeno, Lisbon.
Text: Helen Keen