Robert Grunenberg Berlin opens group exhibition 'Losing My Virginity'

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Robert Grunenberg Berlin opens group exhibition 'Losing My Virginity'
Losing My Virginity, Installation view. Photo: © Nick Ash.

BERLIN.- The end of art school represents the beginning of a transformation. This pivotal moment when an artist either applies their acquired academic knowledge in practice or discards it to attain a feeling of self-imparted authority, is the focus of Losing My Virginity, the second exhibition at Robert Grunenberg Berlin.

Berlin-based sculptor Stefan Knauf questions Western symbols, mythological rhetoric and material values in his artistic practice. His work Piazza del Cuore Sviato I-V, on show at the exhibition, depicts two lambs that weren’t destined to live. Knauf’s masterfully crafted, technically proficient sculptures combine forms and materials that achieve a delicate equilibrium while at the same time connecting questions of art history and aesthetics. Thus, Knauf interweaves notions of eternity and transcience, and simultaneously subverts the fetishization of materials, myths of salvation and our cultural understanding of time and value.

The exhibition also features nine photographs by the American artist Paul Levack. Seven of them form a series based on found 35mm transparencies that he has been collecting for many years. Among them amateur, landscape, as well as porn photography. In addition, Levack is showing two seemingly intimate, larger-than-life portraits of fellow students at Frankfurt’s Städelschule: one subject is a romantic crush, the other is the crush’s former lover. While giving the “mutual friend” a chaste, de-sexualised form, both images create a quest for yearning and debauchery – an integral part of adulthood in a society where not all sexual fantasies can be freely lived out. Levack’s light-hearted and brazen approach, combined with a photographic accuracy, encourage his audience to decipher the clues that hide behind the apparent randomness and anonymity.

Jan Zöller’s paintings and installation works focus on the energy that Losing My Virginity seeks to capture. Fire plays a central role for Zöller, and symbolises the flame he imagines within his audience and himself – a passion, an excess of energy. Zöller ascribes great importance to shared experiences within his circle of friends. They manifest themselves in the form of a generationally determined, hyper-specific aesthetic that is observable throughout his work: a bold, vivid visual language. An original, irreverent spirit features in Zöller’s colour paintings, but finds its clearest expression in his works incorporating text, in which he also pronounces that “Youth was never boring”.

Die Römischen Votzen are a collective formed around the artists Giulietta Ockenfuß and Sonja Yakovleva, who write and perform provocative, lo-fi rap songs. Both, their music as well as their visual art, unravel social, gender and sexual stereotypes. Among their work featured in Losing My Virginity, the artists have created a work that depicts a barsetka – a small men’s leather bag for carrying valuables – on Tiffany glass.

Giulietta Ockenfuß shows figurative painting on two bonnets of cars; their former function evoking associations with speed, power and dynamism – subjects that, seen from a standpoint of redistribution, particularly interested Ockenfuß. By reorganising historically entrenched and binary ideas of gender and sexuality, her vibrant painterly narratives offer both insight and humour.

In addition, Sonja Yakovleva’s paper cuttings show alternative realities that often depict female protagonists. Yakovleva stresses that her choice of material is often considered more feminine than it should be – in reality it is rare that a handicraft is dominated by women. Yet in terms of content her work is full of revealing observations of patriarchal structures and heteronormative power relations.

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