Comprehensive solo exhibition featuring works by Raúl Illarramendi opens at Galerie Karsten Greve

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Comprehensive solo exhibition featuring works by Raúl Illarramendi opens at Galerie Karsten Greve
Portrait Raúl Illarramendi, Méru © Lisa Preud’homme. Photo: Lisa Preud’homme. Courtesy Atelier Cruz-Diez Paris.

COLOGNE.- Galerie Karsten Greve is presenting for the second time a comprehensive solo exhibition featuring works by the Venezuelan-born artist Raúl Illarramendi in Cologne. The exhibition contains his most recent work series.

Raúl Illarramendi’s fascinating œuvre impresses viewers by presenting a technique that employs drawing in an unusual way, meticulously pushing its boundaries to reproduce a spontaneous visual experience. Illarramendi focuses on the reproduction of traces, accidental gestures, and anonymous markings, often respecting the compositions of the original photographs. These snapshots are taken spontaneously in urban spaces. They are more like discovered situations which carry an aesthetic presence worthy of a portrait. Illarramendi portrays these situations in order to produce a new image, referencing not only abstraction, but also other historic painting traditions. Illarramendi uses photographs, usually taken during his city walks and explorations through urban spaces, as a starting point. The objects of his meticulous observations are the manifestations of traces of everyday life that we tend to perceive subconsciously but which in turn inform the visual representations. Such incidental relics in the urban realm tell of a presence or event that becomes visible as a result of markings or imprints. Consequently these traces are witnesses and at the same time signs of what has happened, which the artist then catalogues and visually implements.

Born in Caracas, Venezuela, in 1982, Raúl Illarramendi began his artistic career as an assistant to the painter Félix Perdomo, who was working as a professor at the school of visual arts Cristobal Rojas, Raúl Illarramendi became a member of the Circulo De Dibujo del Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas Sofia Imber. He studied visual art and art history at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville, USA. He subsequently switched to the Université Jean Monet in St. Étienne, France, to acquire his Master of Fine Arts.

The works of the young Venezuelan artist, who has received a number of scholarships and prizes (2018/19 Jean Chevalier Prize; 2004 National Prize, USA), are regularly shown in solo and group exhibitions in Europe, Latin America and the United States. Since 2013 the Galerie Karsten Greve has represented and presented the artist internationally. The Centro de Artes Visuales-Fundación Helga de Alvear in Madrid, Spain, and the Stichting Paul van Rensch Art Foundation, the Netherlands, have acquired some of his works for their collections. The artist lives and works in his adopted home Méru, in France.

The current exhibition Raúl Illarramendi Offerings in the Galerie Karsten Greve in Cologne features two work series – Offering no1 – 12 and Offering Fragment no1 – 13. The starting point this time was a historical black and white photograph that depicts the silhouette of a double cross in the asphalt. It is an impression of the cast-iron double cross that fell off the roof of Caracas Cathedral during a devastating earthquake on 29 July 1967. According to tradition the cross did not just leave its trace on the asphalt, its impact also miraculously brought about an end to the earthquake. Raúl Illarramendi used the exact imprint of the cross silhouette as a template for his current series Offerings no1 – 12 – twelve large-format pictures in gouache and coloured pencil on acrylic resin. He had several casts of the cross made and subsequently worked the picture surfaces made of acrylic resin on the low-relief. Using gouache and water he painted several areas and supplemented them with colour by means of countless coloured pencil lines. The artist chose the colour spectrum in reaction or in harmonious partnership with further photographic templates. For example, Raúl Illarramendi portrays the effect of the coloured reflections from the stained-glass windows, flooding the interior of the church in which the imprint of the cross is kept. Just as religious belief and Venezuelan popular piety attributes healing powers to the cross as a votive image, Raúl Illarramendi’s gesture is an Offering that heralds hope for an end to Venezuela’s current critical state.

Accompanying the exhibition there will be a catalogue with texts by Félix Suazo and Raúl Illaramendi.

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