10/04 - 14/08/2016
In its series of monographic exhibitions on younger contemporary artists, the Langen Foundation will be showing the recent works of Helen Feifel (b. 1983). Her artistic practice is distinguished by complex processes of appropriation and transformation, in which she applies artisanal, even anachronistic methods, integrating them into a contemporary context. The ceramic pieces and photographic works developed especially for the exhibition at the Langen Foundation typify the diverse techniques employed by this Berlin-based artist. Yet Helen Feifel places her main focus on the art of painting, which she incorporates into her work as a genre-spanning medium.
The point of departure for Feifel’s painted photographs is a performative element in which she “dresses” people with self-designed garments made of paper. Using black-and-white photography, the clad fashion objects are documented and printed on Baryta paper. The artist adds another step to the ornamentally cut-out or painted forms of the garments by subsequently colouring the photograph by hand. In carrying out this long since forgotten art form, Feifel applies special egg-white glazes in certain places, inspired by patterns from a fashion context. The series title – Rainbows Are Trending in Fashion – makes reference to the world of fashion blogs, fashion shows, and photo shoots. At the same time, due to the painterly interventions, the photographs are transformed into non-representational paintings, which in turn suggest art-historical references.
A similar dovetailing of various procedures is evident in Feifel’s ceramic pieces. Found utilitarian objects from a broad spectrum of generations and styles are smashed, rearranged, and reconfigured. The reconstructed ceramics ultimately serve as a basis for casting moulds, which the artist uses to elaborately produce the exhibited sculptures. The last step of applying the glaze unites the former fragments to create autonomous, self-contained objects. They are virtually imprints of their original functionality and origin, manifesting as a relief due to the residual “seams”.
By linking popular and high culture in her works, Helen Feifel gives rise to complex structures in which figuration and abstraction, representation and function, are superimposed. The focus here is always placed on the artistic production of knowledge. Feifel conceives and thematises artistic activity as continued experimentation. She implements techniques not yet familiar to her as a productive force by exploring them through the method of trial and error. Thus confronted by new situations, she engages in ever new challenges during her working process and remains open to unexpected results. Such deliberately calculated haphazardness plays a decisive role in Feifel’s artistic practice, as does the significance that she grants the factor of time. The creation of her works is highly time-consuming, an aspect that she embraces – not least to cultivate both resistance and freedom.
Helen Feifel (DE 1983) lives and works in Berlin. In 2011, she earned her degree from the Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe, studying under Prof. Meuser and Prof. Roth. Her work has been shown in various solo exhibitions, such as at Mönchehaus Museum Goslar, Deutschen Bundesbank Frankfurt, and Kunstverein Braunschweig. Most recently, Helen Feifel was awarded the Kaiserringstipendium für junge Kunst Goslar and the Cité Internationale des Arts Paris.