Afternoons in Utopia
After a five-year absence from France, young Berlin-based painter Ulrich Lamsfuss returns to Galerie Daniel Templon with a new series of hyperreal paintings: off-beat and unsettling, they challenge concepts of originality.
A self-described “post-picture artist,” Lamsfuss continues to work on “destruction by painting.”
His technique is well documented: Ulrich Lamsfuss borrows images from myriad sources—advertising, press, cinema, private photographs—which he meticulously reproduces in oils on canvas. This process of copying, and the change of scale that it involves, leads to a radical transformation of the subject via the sensuality of his chosen medium and necessary artistic interpretation.
By extricating them from the relentless flood of images, Ulrich Lamsfuss sublimates motifs that are seemingly insignificant or vulgar. He forces us to look anew. Behind a theatrical still life lies an advertisement for luxury shoes; behind a conventional portrait, a model’s neutral face; behind a Caravaggio, a poorly-reproduced history schoolbook.
At once copy and original, Ulrich Lamsfuss’ paintings present pitfalls for the viewer as investigator: “to find the motif is to find the guilty party,” explains the artist. The art of appropriation is fundamental to an artist who feels that “wherever I go, somebody's already been.”
These works take many months to complete, as Ulrich Lamsfuss explores to the rhythm of painting the ceaseless cycling of representations within the endless flow of images for rapid consumption.
For this exhibition, the artist has chosen to construct a journey with the portrait as its theme. Featuring faces both famous and unknown, posed portraits or stolen images, the twenty or so works on show force us to question our visual culture, from Lil’ Kim to Michel Houellebecq.
The title Afternoons in Utopia, borrowed from the Berlin new wave band Alphaville, evokes the promises and illusions of an era, and once again suggests the erosion between reality and its representations.
Born in 1971, Ulrich Lamsfuss lives and works in Berlin. During the 1990s, he studied at the Dusseldorf Academy of Fine Arts under Georg Baselitz. His work has been exhibited at the Marta Herford museum in Germany (Ad Absurdum, curated by Jan Hoet) in 2008, the Kunsthalle Hamburg in Hamburg in 2005 as well as the 2003 Prague Biennale.
In France, his paintings have been seen at the Viel Spass - Beaucoup de Plaisir exhibition held at the Espace Paul Ricard in 2001 and at Galerie Templon (2004 and 2007).