Gallery Guido W. Baudach is pleased to present Venus, the fifth solo-exhibition by Berlin based artist Markus Selg. This show seems to be a continuation of his revious presentation Searching for Ruwenzori. The visually dominant and largest work in size is titled The Secret live of Plants and is again a sublimation print, based on a computer collage. Furthermore the female figure of the formerly epoymous Searching for Ruwenzori, showing an undressed human couple in a paradise-like and strangely ranking setting of trees and leaves, appears again in The Secret Life of Plants. The prints´ title not only reminds of the eponymous album by Stevie Wonder from the year 1979, that evokes the mysterious forces of creation, but also draws on an important image-tradition in art history, the depiction of Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty. The lying female figure dominates the picture by presenting herself in an atmosphere of a detached sensuality, in the centre of a natural environment that is more relief-like than of a spatial depth. The materiality of her body fluctuates between a golden flesh tone and the discoloured patina of an ochre tinted sculpture. Brightend limbs seem to glow and serve as a source of light in the restrained darkness of the environment. The figure has her eyes closed and thereby mediates pleasure, as well as contemplation, devotion and the innocence of sleep as a symbol of inner containment or of a self-evident suchness.
In the context of the exhibition the sublimation print is opposed to another venus-impersonation. The horizontal format colour photography Saloun(A Tribute to Adam Holý) is a still from the 100 minute feature film Das ewige Antlitz, that Markus Selg has just completed. An important scene of this film takes place in the former studio of the Czech sculptor and symbolistic national artist Ladislav Saloun, where Prague based photographer Adam Holý is just staging a female undressed model for a picture. Formally equivalent to an enormous eagles´ wing in the foreground, the young woman is exposed to the eye by a torn red curtain on the left side. The figure that is voluptously draped over an imitated rock appears in her curved body shape as a mirror image of the venus in The Secret Life of Plants.
In the exhibition the subject of venus and the nude female body appears also in the context of Markus Selgs´ series Still Lifes. Four of the fourteen 25 x 25 cm prints on photographic paper that were produced from Polaroid-images are presented. Focused by black boarders the Still Lifes provide peep box-like, intimate as well as constructed insights into the world of the artist. The natural, soft and vague light models arrangements of objects as frozen moments. Among these objects are numerous sculptures and dried flowers.
In another venus-like scenery in one of the Still Life-pictures the view is guided under a vaguely to be identified fabric, a kind of curtain in the foreground to a lying female figure with folded arms, whose pudency is covered by a moth. The figure, a casting of Wilhelm Lehmbrucks famous sculpture Die Sinnende from 1910/11 leans on a book-cover with the title Das ewige Antlitz. The book that was first published in 1926 serves here as a memento mori. It is a collection of photographic images of death masks from famous historical figures and personalities and refers again to Maruks Selgs´ actual film of the same title.
Wilhelm Lehmbrucks´ sculpture appears also in two other Still Life-pictures. In the first, a part of the sculpture guides the look into the depth of the image, where the face of the famous Nofretete appears like a newly seen or newly connoted phenomenon. In another picture Die Sinnende appears closely togehter with four other figurations from different cultural contexts. Paradoxly their singular, respective incarnations of grace, beauty, shame, vulnerability and pride seem to merge into a joint atmosphere or a community.
In the context of these processes of conversion it is evident that the Still Lifes are more than projections in or out of a private or historical world of retreat, coated with a certain patina. In fact the artist succeeded with this pictures to combine singular items which appear in a new way, in a transformed light.
Correspondingly, the subject of Venus, the Leitmotiv of the exhibition, should also be seen from the angle of transformation. Markus Selg evokes womanhood, but with the subject of voluptuousness he depicts and presents something else than a gender-specific subject or even a cliché. More and other than that, devotion and dedication has to do with the necessity to respect the forces of nature, the eternal cycles of becoming and passing away.