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Priska Pasquer presents an exhibition of works by Genaro Strobel
Genaro Strobel, Shining Bright, 2022, exhibition view, Photo Mareike Tocha, courtesy PRISKA PASQUER, Cologne.



COLOGNE.- Genaro Strobel’s exhibition “Shining Bright” features a selection of four medium-sized wood engravings produced in Berlin and Vienna in early 2022 along with a previous one from 2018. Strobel first presented four of his “Farbkreise” (“Color Wheels”) at his exhibition “Size” held at Kunsthalle Darmstadt in 2021. Measuring 4 meters tall and 7 meters wide, they easily filled the main hall there. Displayed in an informal setting overlooking the Rhine (the Priska Pasquer Gallery’s temporary home in Cologne), their theme takes center stage. In a nutshell, color is Genaro Strobel’s theme. Instead of the photogravure and letterpress inks he’s previously experimented with, this marks a return to artists’ oil paints, no doubt because of their unsurpassed radiance and their spectrum – and also perhaps because he’s seeking to get closer to painting.

Genaro Strobel has continuously developed his technique referred to here as “wood engraving.” He begins the process by familiarizing himself with a place, observing and returning to it. Having conceived of a picture, he then starts taking more specific photographs. Once he’s decided on its format, he uses graphics software to continue editing his images before cutting – or rather burning – entire images onto a series of wood veneer panels with a laser. He then applies ink to these printing blocks with brush and roller. The resulting prints are merely assembled; no brushstrokes are added, no corrections made. Each of Strobel’s works is unique, for the combination of photographic image, impression (grain), and expressive painting always gives rise to a new work that’s more than the sum of the sequence of interrelated steps in its creation.

When taking a walk through the forest, we see each tree as an individual. And its individual fate is probably what Genaro Strobel has in mind by highlighting the grains of various tree species (e.g., ash, cherry, poplar, and walnut). Apart from the grain, however, the veneers – cut and mirrored – come into their own in the exhibition. The veneer prints are presented horizontally, i.e., the trunk has been tilted by 90 degrees. As a result, the background somewhat resembles the surface of a river flowing calmly.

“Shining Bright,” the piece lending its title to the exhibition, yet also “Farbiges Grau” (“Colorful Gray”) leading up to it, are both characterized by figures. Some round, others outlined, they stand out from the background by means of a halo, whose color they can adopt like a chameleon. While talking to Strobel, he explained that the bizarre figures represent memories of walking through Berlin and that, just like visitors to a city or an art gallery, they, too, can now immerse themselves in something – namely the imprints of veneer patterns!

In his compositions, Genaro Strobel allows color free rein. Refusing to systematize it, nevertheless he confidently associates his “Color Wheels” with attempts by, say, Goethe to describe the wavelengths of visible light as accurately as possible. His “Color Wheel 11” in orange and red selected for “Shining Bright” is superimposed with the greatly enlarged motif of a line drawing (also by Strobel) which, with its yellow and greenish-blue coloring, is reminiscent of a coat of arms on a flag. “Schwarz” (“Black”) is the title of the last of his new works. This, the darkest of all colors, has always exerted an effect on viewers that’s hard to describe. Genaro Strobel tries to capture this impact as something “draining” in an image where the color black is deep and, thanks to its warm color gradients exemplified in this work, emphasized as the main motif.

The earlier work from 2018 bears an abbreviation as its title that stands for “Zwischen dem Auge und dem Gehirn” (“Between eye and brain”). Printed entirely in black, it contains two views of a full moon side by side, slightly rotated against each other. The composition is reminiscent of a stereoscopic image, the illusion of three-dimensionality. However, the different axes can’t be related to the same subject simultaneously. Between eye and brain are the fibers of the optic nerve. As Genaro Strobel wrote in an email, this is where all his wood engravings start. And it’s also the place they’re supposed to return to when they’re eventually hung on a wall and viewed without prejudice.

León Krempel










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