18.06. – 17.07.2008
Douglas Kolk
Karen Parker's World
Solo exhibition at Arndt & Partner, Berlin

Douglas Kolk Karen Parker's World, solo exhibition at Arndt & Partner, Berlin  Douglas Kolk Karen Parker's World, solo exhibition at Arndt & Partner, Berlin


Arndt & Partner is pleased to announce a new exhibition by Douglas Kolk – Karen Parkers World – presenting collages, drawings, a wall drawing created especially for the gallery space and for the first time sculptures from the American artist.

Douglas Kolk’s work revolves around questions of identity, initially in small format drawings and then later in large format works and collages. Figures appear to be restlessly searching for a sense of self. In his drawings, influenced by Pop Art and the current torrent of media images, he emphatically succeeds in expressing human vulnerability, human depth and extreme psychological states. In doing so, in his small and medium formats he works to create a striking, yet restrained visual language through a focused reduction of the forms, lines and colours in which – similar to Raymond Pettibon - sentences, like fragments of thoughts, are integrated so they can be perpetuated by the viewer, enabling them to steer the represented situation in another direction.
In the new large format Collages however, Kolk’s articulation has become more expressive.

“The restrained, factual outline drawings have given way to brushstrokes with a vibrant life of their own. Kolk’s expressive brushwork in these pieces is accompanied by pictures from magazines and silhouettes of objects, shadows of themselves. These have not been delineated by the artist’s pencil, however; the objects were physically laid out on the paper and then Kolk sprayed a fine mist of paint over them, so that on their removal a white area retaining their outline was left behind. The mingling of drawing and painting as a means of expression complements the broad range of individual pictures. The coloration, with its gradations of intensity, is full of contrast; the artist uses such an abundant spectrum of color – matching the plethora of motifs – that it threatens to overwhelm the viewer. This is Kolk’s way of transplanting in the viewer the moods and states of mind of his figures, all of them seemingly lost in a world that no longer offers anything to cling to, indeed almost no recognizable point of reference of any kind. Themes from earlier works have acquired a sharper dramatic profile, and appear in fragmented form. Quotations from popular culture and from the fashion and music scenes are the thematic link for the shallow icons of desire that are the sole remaining ideals it seems we have to aspire to. A similar function can be identified in the blaring advertising slogans, with their headline urgency that allows not an instant for reflection and thus denies the images any permanence, reducing them to something briefly glimpsed in the swirling torrent of modern image production. Kolk’s collages mimic this rapid tempo – and at the same time freeze it for the observer.

The collage principle enables him to artistically present the chaos of modern life as a principle in its own right. Sometimes, from the maelstrom of motifs, a single over-riding figuration emerges in an attempt to bind together the work as a whole: It might be a large face, a dominant word or phrase, or the purposive division of the large-format works into zones by demarcation lines painted or even sprayed into place. Individual motifs may gain or lose prominence as a result. The observer’s eye is caught and held by individual images like the various incorporated magazine cuttings – women wearing sunglasses, well-known models, erotically parted lips – or dwells on the plain and simple photograph of a crow. The large formats enable viewers to immerse themselves in these pictures, experiencing them physically, but also to step back and contemplate them in a distanced way. Momentarily, the unending torrent of images is arrested. While we contemplate these works we are no longer lost, like an adolescent, in the unending flow, but instead regain the ability to choose whether to plunge more deeply into the intensity of specific elements, or to allow ourselves to be carried away by the juxtapositioning and merging of the images.” (Holger Birkholz)

Born in 1963 in Newark, New Jersey. He lives and works in Boston. His work has been shown in solo exhibitions including It isn’t me mother, presented at Arndt & Partner Berlin during its founding year in 1994; at the Kasseler Kunstverein, Kassel (1997); and at Fredericks & Freiser, New York (2007). Group exhibitions he has taken part in include Gesichter einer Sammlung at the Kunsthalle Mannheim and USA TODAY at the Royal Academy of Arts in London (both 2006); as well as Sweet Bird of Youth, curated by Hedi Slimane at Arndt & Partner Berlin (2007). Forthcoming in October 2008 is a solo show at Gallery Pilar Parra & Romero in Madrid, Spain.

Douglas Kol, Catalogue, edited by Oliver Zybok, interview with the artist by Sarah Valdez, texts by Uwe Fleckner, Oliver Zybok; German/English; 2006. 104 pp., 101 ills., 71 in color
hardcover; ISBN 978-3-7757-1833-2; EUR 29.80