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Astrid Klein "Broken Heart, Works from 1980 - 1995" at Sprüth Magers
Astrid Klein, "LEPOSSIBLE", From the series: Broken Heart, 1980. Collage, 196 x 140cm. Courtesy the artist and Sprüth Magers Berlin London.

BERLIN.- Monika Sprüth and Philomene Magers present the first exhibition by Astrid Klein in their Berlin gallery. The title of the exhibition Broken Heart, Arbeiten von 1980-1995 (Broken Heart, works from 1980 -1995) references a body of work from the year 1980. A selection of works from this series, two sculptures (1990/1995) and four works from the series weiβe Bilder (white paintings), achieved between 1988 and 1993, are exhibited. In addition, the monumental collage Ich denke die Welt weg (1980/94) is being displayed.

The painter and sculptor Astrid Klein has been working at integrating text into her paintings for over three decades. In 1972, before she had even started her degree in Cologne (1973-77), she began to write several texts which she later printed onto handmade paper. The topics of her own texts, as well as her later use of other textual sources, bear witness to her thoughts on literary, aesthetic, philosophical and scientific writings. In a fragmented and concealed way these various sources are incorporated into her Schriftbilder (text paintings) which make up the large majority of the exhibited works in Berlin.

The large format works of the 1980 series Broken Heart use excerpts of text from Arno Schmidt’s seminal work Zettels Traum (1970) in relation to the representation of women in cinema and photonovels from the 60s and 70s. The latter were affected by a voyeuristic, masculine perspective alongside the fetishisation of the female form. In the collages, Astrid Klein links textual and pictorial material on a visual level that not necessarily share the same semantic level. This creates a context, in which new meanings are revealed.

The sculptures BROKEN HEART I and BROKEN HEART II (1990/5) contain mirrors that have either been shot at or have been smashed with a hammer. The cracks mean that the reflections of the surroundings can only be viewed as fragmentary or deformed.

With her weiβe Bilder (1989-1993), which can be seen as the counterpart to the series schwarze Bilder (black paintings) of the 70s, Astrid Klein approaches the limits of visibility. To make the invisible visible and to show what can’t be shown is hinted at in the paradoxical phrase Erinnerungen eines Gedächtnislosen (memoirs of a person who does not remember) featured in one of the works on display. The memories fade in the gradual repetition of two lines of text, as this is how the almost unrecognisable text line at the bottom left hand corner can be interpreted: nicht bis ins Herz getrieben (they did not penetrate the heart).

Astrid Klein’s paintings, collages, works of photography and installations created since 1978 question, deconstruct and renew the relationship between image and text. Since the beginning of the 90s, she continued these intense discussions also in her large format neon sculptures and light installations. The form and the typeface of the text play as important a role in the works as the content. The overlay, blurring and accentuation can be read as the archeological layers of our thinking and our perception, of memory and oblivion, of what we suppress and what is subconscious.

Astrid Klein lives and works in Cologne and has been awarded numerous prizes for her works, amongst others the Käthe-Kollwitz-Prize of the Academy of Arts, Berlin (1997) and the KUNSTKÖLN-PRIZE in 2001 (now the Cologne Fine Art & Antiques-Prize). Since 1993 the artist has held a professorship at the Academy of Visual Arts in Leipzig.

Astrid Klein’s works have been displayed in prominent solo exhibitions, amongst others L’air de Berlin 2000 Rauminstallation at the Hamburger Bahnhof “Museum für Gegenwart”, Berlin (2002); Auswege II at Neues Museum, Staatliches Museum für Kunst und Design, Nürnberg (2001). The artist’s photographic works were exhibited in 1995 at the Fotomuseum Winterthur similarly in 1989 in the exhibition Astrid Klein. Photoarbeiten 1984-1989 in the Kestnergesellschaft, Hannover; the Institute for Contemporary Art, London; the Wiener Sezession, Vienna and the Forum Stadtpark, Graz. Important group exhibitions include Zur Vorstellung des Terrors. Die RAF-Ausstellung, KW Kunst-Werke, Berlin (2005); Deutschlandbilder, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (1997); Photographie des 20. Jahrhunderts, Museum Ludwig, Köln (1996); Photography in contemporary German art 1960 to the present, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1992). Noteworthy is Astrid Klein’s participation in the Documenta 8 (1987) and the 42nd Biennale in Venice.

Sprüth Magers | Astrid Klein | Monika Sprüth | Philomene Magers |

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