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New York based artist Chloe Piene opens second exhibition in Germany at Barbara Thumm
Installation view at Barbara Thumm in Berlin. Photo: Jens Ziehe

BERLIN.- Gallery Barbara Thumm present their second solo show of the New York based artist Chloe Piene in Germany.

Chloe Piene is well known for her ability to straddle an extremely wide spectrum, both in the physical play of her materials and as a certain philosophical position. Her work has included such diverse associations as prisoners, love letters, ironworkers, Christian mystics, ruins, political dictatorships and instruments of torture. A sudden discovery of works in wax by Medardo Rosso, (1858-1928), resonated for her as bodies found accidentally in forests. It reminded her of archaeological ruins and the burial sites of kings or families in Ireland and across the European Continent. Iron was at one time a sacred material touched only by the blacksmith, who was given both a high rank and magical status for his ability to transform it. Piene makes no qualitative distinction between the material she uses to create her pieces. She addresses their various states within the process of transformation which inflect the final form of her work. Time, and error, sensitive touch and will, all combine to form the final nexus of power that becomes the piece. Plaster eruptions, masks like impressions of heads and faces, which are mirrored in "sister images", the iron cast of an octopus hand - all these elements remind of antique mythology as well as surrealist imagery.

Of her drawing, which Piene sees as no different from sculpture, Barry Schwabsky writes "What lies before us is first and foremost the line itself, ever energetic, even when it becomes fine ... The bodies represented have often had their hands, legs or arms amputate, like fragments of ancient sculpture found in excavations."

"Iron is forged in the earth. Out of the ground, it is smelted near the core, sibling to lava, stone, sand, and the ocean floor. Iron emits gasses, vapour, and heat. It can explode and burn in liquid form. Once hard certain kinds of iron are tougher than steel, used by industries because of its ability to take the stress of frequent and repeated use. It's a material that endures."

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

(Percy Bysshe Shelley)

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