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Galerie Guido W. Baudach opens an exhibition with works by Jürgen Klauke
Installation view. Courtesy the artist & Galerie Guido W. Baudach, Berlin, Photo: Roman März.

BERLIN.- For Gallery Weekend 2022, Galerie Guido W. Baudach is presenting its fourth solo exhibition with works by Jürgen Klauke. Klauke is one of the most renowned artists in Germany. In the early 1970s, he co-founded Body Art and co-introduced the concept of photographic Self-Performance to contemporary art. Since then, he has played a decisive role in its development. Under the title Bodysounds / Kreuz&Queer, the show features new photographic works and drawings.

In the photographic works, four large-format C-prints, entirely held in shades of grey, a person dressed in black appears, partly concealed by a kind of mannequin consisting of several nylon tights sewn together and flled with balloons. La Poupée by Hans Bellmer inevitabely comes to mind, except that this creature here is conceived much more abstractly. It only remotely resembles a humanoid being and could have been taken from a flm by David Cronenberg. Jürgen Klauke himself is the person who appears behind it, sometimes standing, sometimes sitting on a chair, his face not visible. Klauke consistently places the puppet in the foreground in the sense of an extension of his own body. The scenery is performative and has something of a camera posing or portrait session, in which the dark-robed artist and his bulging playmate merge into one polymorphous fgure that seems to be larva-like
on the verge of pupation. Those who know Klauke‘s oeuvre will be reminded of Boddies, an early but style-defning photographic sequence from the year 1970, whose protagonist is a rather similar nylon stocking doll stuffed with wood wool, although it makes a thoroughly decisive difference that Klauke remained exclusively behind the camera at the time and did not appear in front of it. In the group of works Bodysounds, Klauke now deliberately goes beyond this with the means of Self-Performance, renegotiating issues in the feld of tension between sexual identity and self-determined existence; issues that, when he took them up at the beginning of his artistic career, were still a minority topic, whereas today, fve decades later, at least in most Western countries, they are part of the overall societal discourse.

A similar context applies in the exhibited drawings, entitled Kreuz&Queer. In each of them, bodies and body parts of different sexes, real and supposed, combine to form illusionistic strategies of line and surface. Executed in pen and ink, the works are as rich in imagination as in allusion. Tubes, strings and threads connect the fgurative nudes and abstract spaces, which overlap each other as freely as they are precisely arranged. The way black and white relate to each other is reminiscent of Yin and Yang. Simultaneously, another icon of Surrealism - Francis Picabia‘s La nuit espangnole - comes to mind, as does Klauke‘s own drawing cycle Ziemlich from 1979-81, which provides another recourse to his own early work. The motifs of Kreuz&Queer are fed from the artist‘s personal pictorial memory, including current impressions from visual media. Among the countless, mostly stylised faces depicted, one occasionally can think of recognising Klauke‘s own outline. As in the photographic works, Klauke seems to appear here not only as author but also as actor. The fortyfour sheets of Kreuz&Queer vary the human body as an object of transformation in an almost indulgent manner. In their often highly complex structure, which virtuously links various individual motifs into an overall picture, Klauke‘s compositions often appear enigmatic, sometimes absurd, sometimes even grotesque. Naratively, they are mulit-layered and far from adhering to linear patterns. The story lines literally criss-cross, as if in a game of confusion. Among the many different body parts that appear in these drawings, hands are the most prominent element, always worked out in detail, as it were emphasising the manual quality of drawing. On the level of abstraction, rectangles and circles are predominant. Geometric and organic forms are just as dynamically related to each other as the fgurative personnel, which occurs almost exclusively naked. The atmosphere appears erotically charged. What is depicted, however, are not sexual acts, but metamorphoses of the genders. Everything here is boundlessly diverse and constantly in fux.

Jürgen Klauke (*1943) lives and works in Cologne. His work has been subject of solo exhibitions at museums and other institutions including ZKM, Karlsruhe; Museum Boymans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin; Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris; Museum der Moderne, Salzburg; Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden; Museum of Modern Art, Saitama; Kunsthalle Bielefeld; Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn; The State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg. Klauke has also participated in international exhibitions such as Documenta, Kassel (1977, 1987), Venice Biennial (1980) and important group shows at institutions like Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and Tate Liverpool, among others. In 2017, his oeuvre of drawings was the subject of a retrospective at the Max Ernst Museum in Bruehl.

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