What’s He Building Out There?
Opening reception by invitation only, 1st March, 7 — 9pm
Previews by appointment, 2nd — 8th March
Private view, 8th March, 7 — 9pm
From 9th March the gallery will be open Tuesday — Saturday, 11am – 7pm
Wieland Payer’s first London solo exhibition brings together recent works on paper, sculpture and painting. Payer is best known for his intricate drawings in charcoal and pastel depicting mountains and woodland, from which protrude strange objects and buildings that seem to have been plucked from some future era — but which may equally be derelict altars to modernism, projected into post-apocalyptic landscapes.
Payer’s work originates from close dialogue with German Romanticism: it is always concerned with the monumental and dynamic presence of natural phenomena, capable of giving human beings a sense of their own relativity. Whilst the work is inspired by reality, Payer’s response to the natural world is never forensic, but rather aesthetic and also surreal. His landscapes are full of visual and spatial paradoxes that remove them from the realm of actual experience. They are beautiful and awe inspiring, yet present us with a vision of the natural world that is far from bucolic and, at times, hostile. This is hinted at in the title of the exhibition, an oblique reference to Tom Wait’s song, ‘What’s He Building In There’. In the song, the question is never answered, but the implication is that whatever is being constructed is menacing and perhaps even murderous.
This dark undercurrent is also present in Payer’s sculptural works, cast in bronze, that offer a direct reference to the objects seen embedded in his landscapes. Payer refers to them collectively as ‘Souvenir’s’ and, as symbols of a past experience they are infused with loss and nostalgia. In isolation, however, they appear almost totemic as if to fulfill a role in some strange tribal ritual intended to ward off danger.
Payer’s objects and landscapes resist easy deciphering: the time is neither future, present nor past; the landscape is familiar and strange, seductive and hostile. Nothing is certain, and little seems to be what it is. These are the worlds of dreams and nightmares, in which anything could happen.
Wieland Payer was born in Erfurt, Germany, in 1981. He studied at the Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design Halle, the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome and at the Royal College of Art in London. Recent solo exhibitions include ‘Im Hercynischen Wald Malerei’ at Galerie Rothamel Frankfurt, 2012. Payer’s work is contained in prominent private collections throughout Europe including the Bundesumweltministerium, Berlin; Stiftung für christliche Kunst, Wittenberg; Klingspor Museum, Offenbach; and neue Sächsische Galerie, Chemnitz.