Exhibition at Museum der Moderne Salzburg highlights Cameron Jamie's graphic work

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Exhibition at Museum der Moderne Salzburg highlights Cameron Jamie's graphic work
Cameron Jamie. Shaking Traces, exhibition view, Museum der Moderne Salzburg, 2022, © Museum der Moderne Salzburg, photo: Rainer Iglar.

SALZBURG.- In his works on paper, artist’s books, sculptures, photographs, performances, and films, Cameron Jamie (Los Angeles, CA, US, 1969– Paris, FR) has for some thirty years explored identity, psychological and physical transformations of the self, and the interrelationship between humans and nature. In 2002, the artist moved from Hollwood, California, to Paris, where he still lives and works today. Other cities that play a major role in his work are Cologne, where he mainly creates ceramic sculptures, and Berlin, where most of his artist books come into being. His drawing work is in an ongoing process of development and breaks the boundaries of the classical understanding of the medium.

Jamie’s free-form drawing process and dedication to working with his pen form the foundation of his entire oeuvre, together with his probing of intuition, chance, layering, destruction, and rebuilding of images in his line works. His examination of the relationship between inside and outside and his use of the line for searching formal and contextual explorations provide the common thread. The drawing never functions as a sketch, but emerges spontaneously and irrevocably as a snapshot of his subconscious, immediate image-making process.

Jamie first rose to renown in the 1990s with photographs and works on film as well as performances in which he grappled—among other topics—with urban rituals laced with aggression and brutality. Kranky Klaus, for example, is one in a series of films scrutinizing local customs with pagan roots and creepy everyday myths such as the theatrics of backyard wrestling contests or the spooky Halloween traditions in the working- and middle-class suburbs of Los Angeles. Masks not only figured prominently in his performances, they also inspired drawings in which he explored their potential as devices of metamorphosis and alternation between different identities.

The artist Cameron Jamie is no stranger to Salzburg. He first visited the area in 2002, spending time in the Gastein Valley to study the processions of Krampus and his retinue, a very distinctive Austrian folkloristic tradition in which anthropomorphic figures with fearsome masks scare the citizenry during the Advent season. He was especially fascinated by the carved-wood Krampus heads. The masks created by the local woodcarver Sepp Lang between the 1920s and the 1950s, which attest to Lang’s extensive familiarity with modern art and especially with the oeuvre of Picasso, have had a lasting impact on Jamie’s graphic and sculptural output. Around this time, he made the abovementioned film Kranky Klaus, which was shown in an exhibition at the Salzburger Kunstverein in 2004 together with Krampus heads by Jamie himself and the woodcarver Max Kössler from Gastein. In the almost two decades since then, the artist has devoted much of his energy to refining his work on paper, producing drawings, prints, and artist’s books. A dedicated presentation of these major series, which form the foundation for his entire oeuvre, has long been overdue.

In the exhibition Cameron Jamie. Shaking Traces, the Museum der Moderne Salzburg now presents the artist’s graphic oeuvre in unprecedented breadth, spotlighting his experimental efforts to chart the possibilities and limitations of working on and with paper. The series include not only conventional drawings in ink on paper but also drawings in ceramic, for which he first works in wet clay, later adding painterly effects in several layers of glazing. The boundary between painting and drawing is also blurred in the artist’s fine art prints, including monotypes and, most recently, lithographs.

The exhibition highlights Jamie’s method of working in layers, using ink, washes, glaze, and even coffee, and illustrates his openness to the convergence of chance and material. The juxtaposition of loose, calligraphic lines and painterly smudging techniques, of intimacy, immediacy and physicality, results in a multifaceted aesthetic experience. The works also investigate the boundaries between the figurative and the abstract as well as the possibilities of works on paper.

With this exhibition, the Museum der Moderne Salzburg continues its longstanding strong focus drawing and printmaking, media that have not only been a mainstay of our exhibition programming since the inauguration of the Moderne Galerie und Graphische Sammlung Rupertinum in 1983 but also constitute a central pillar of our collection. Margret Bilger, Günter Brus, Hans Fronius, Martha Jungwirth, Max Klinger, Oskar Kokoschka, Alfred Kubin, Florentina Pakosta, Karl Rössing, Egon Schiele, and Wilhelm Thöny have been among the artists whose work we have showcased. More than a few of their works ventured into “Dark Scenes,” as the title of an exhibition in 1992 put it: scenes of intuition, of the psyche, and the “uncanny” that resonate with Jamie’s practice of introspection on the threshold between figuration and abstraction and the interactions between man and nature. Curator: Tina Teufel

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