Romer Young Gallery is pleased to announce its third solo exhibition with Berlin artist Gwenaël Rattke, opening FRIDAY September 14th, 6-9pm. In this exhibition Rattke presents a series of new silkscreens and paper-based collages created from his collection of visual material-- long culled from old publications, papers and books, old magazines, found photos and record covers.
Although drawing from a collection of references, preoccupations, thoughts and art, the great inspiration for this exhibition began on a recent trip to Lebanon where the artist visited the Jeita Grotto outside of Beirut. Situated only a few miles outside of the bustling capital, the caves run 4 miles deep into the mountain and contain some of the world’s oldest and biggest stalactites.
In these caves the artist discovered a structure both physical and spiritual that gave shape to his ideas in both form and content. Dark and silent, the sculptural forms inspired awe and reverence and offered a kind of meditative, transformative retreat from the world. Caves have often been symbolic of new life, creativity, warmth, safety, as well as the unconscious mind. For Rattke, the caves inspired a shelter from the rapidity of life, a place to step back and recharge, a place to ‘reconnect with what is “us” and reflect on what is “our” purpose.’ In a world increasingly globalized economically and culturally, the caves brought the artist to question: “how do we preserve (progressively, not conservatively) our safe-spaces, our various pasts, our cultural histories, our identities, maybe even our personal sanities? ...In an age of hyper digital interconnectivity and in times of increased political, moral and religious polarization, in what ways can we connect to one another rather than push in opposite directions or fall prey to alienation? ...”
Some of the works in the exhibition directly reflect this idea of shelter, while other works venture to engage more directly with the world beyond the shelter. What all the works share is a reference to past strategies and past lives as a potential source of inspiration for current and future generations. Ultimately what the artist wishes to express is his own personal longing for community and a sense of face-to-face togetherness. In search of this collective spirit, Rattke works exist as metaphors for the inter-connectedness of all things: real, imagined, and aspired, past, present and future, and for the overlapping kaleidoscopic nature of his own streaming thought patterns.
GWENAËL RATTKE works in collage, silkscreen, photography and xerox graphics. Rattke worked with collage for most of his teenage years producing DIY fanzines, flyers and graphics in the Berlin punk community. Rattke began his queer punk zine, Easily Grossed Out, in the early 1990's. Issues were initially published from Rennes, France, and then later from the U.S.A. The zine featured interviews with bands such as Christ on a Crutch and Capitalist Casualties. Rattke's collage works borrow from the visual codes of the 1960's and 1970's; the works are intricate, ornamental and excessive, and present "an imagined past rife with beauty and sexual freedom." Rattke's work has been exhibited at Galerie Knoth & Krueger, Exile Projects and Arratia Beer, Berlin, Skol, Montreal (2002); YYZ Artists' Outlet, Toronto, (2001), and Romer Young Gallery, San Francisco. He Graduated in Communication Studies (Film) from Concordia University, Montreal, in 1997.