Olivia Berckemeyer: Die Vollkommenheit des ewig glänzenden Horizonts (The Perfection of the Eternally Gleaming Horizon) 11. September 2014 - 11. October 2014

Ships and airplanes dynamically rise up against gravity and time, long forgotten mythical creatures conquer the postmodern and the patina of aged structures meets surfaces of iridescent bronze or gold – in her unique sculptures, Olivia Berckemeyer generates confusion and fascination through the combination of apparent contradictions. Alone the use of bronze casting, an apparently anachronistic technique, undermines clichés of what contemporary sculpture ‘should be’. Yet precisely because of this medium’s unexpected flexibility is Berckemeyer so virtuosically successful in bestowing her subject matter with the appropriate form. Due to the natural characteristics of this medium, she can vary amorphous impressions of melting, dissolving, smelting – in short: the process, together with the her objects distinctive motifs and characters and alloy them to overall shapes. Subsequently, the represented figure or object remains clearly recognisable whilst exhibiting the notable effects of liquefaction, which recalls melting wax or dripping acid and often accounts for the majority of the sculpture. The production method has much to do with these deformations, as the original positive of the cast is indeed formed from wax. The contrast in the material becomes especially apparent when clearly recognisable areas are smoothed to a polish and the ‘effects of liquidation’ show a typical bronze patina. Thus there arises a very sensory interplay between sparkling gloss and deep, rough matt. The astute observer suddenly finds himself vis-à-vis a variation of baroque chiaroscuro, encapsulated in a contemporary sculpture.

This duality in material and form optimally emphasises Berckemeyer’s thematic approach, which can by and large be placed within the bipolar themes of ‘power and transience’. It is therefore not surprising that Berckemeyer, with a fondness for technical masterpieces of engineering such as ships, submarines and aircrafts as well as historical figures, exposes the process of decay to capture civilizations struggle against Chronos. However, in Berckemeyer’s work this struggle does not go on without the odd wry smile, as many of her works specifically emphasise the unexpected twist of a ‘return’ from the clutches of temporality: The submarine frees itself from the dark depths and rises, Ludwig II’s sleigh is still moving and what appear to be horsemen of the apocalypse come back lined in rank and proclaim their love for us. 

Olivia Berckemeyer’s works have been shown in diverse international galleries and institutions, including Richard Gray Gallery (New York), the collector gallery Venus over Manhattan (New York), or Gallery Hiromi Yoshii (Tokyo). Institutions include the Georg Kolbe Museum (Berlin), the ACCLA Art Center Los Angeles, the Kunstverein Heidelberg, the Märkische Museum Witten, the Kunstverein Paderborn and the Autocenter Berlin. The artist lives and works in Berlin.

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