Matthieu Bourel | Dennis Busch | Anthony Gerace | Milen Till
the Curve is happy to present the first CONTEMPORARY COLLAGE group-show as a special edition in a Pop-Up Space on Torstraße 138 in Berlin Mitte.
Introduction to Contemporary Collage
Today, in a world where we collectively skim, copy, paste and reformat ideas from a terrifyingly vast digital landscape of images and information, collage is more relevant than ever. Contemporary lives are a constant collage of all sorts, effortlessly weaving references from high culture, low culture and beyond to shape our worldviews and personal or collective identities. The beauty of collage is that it carries fertile ground for multiple interpretations – political, flippant or simply aesthetically pleasing – yet it is inherently playful too.
Collage – by its simplest definition an assemblage of different components, compiled as a single image to form a new whole – has a rich and varied history. Some of the earliest proponents and those said to have coined the term were Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso in their Cubist work. So began collage as high-art and a means by which to destabilise ideas of what “proper” art materials could be. It was soon augmented by Dada artists like Kurt Schwitters and Hannah Höch, adopted by the Surrealists, and later rife in the work of Pop artists like Richard Hamilton, Robert Rauschenberg and Peter Blake.
As contemporary practitioner John Stezaker puts it, “Collage allows the opening up of conscious, which is very direct… it’s also a way of looking at what you are consuming all the time.” He hits on a prescient point when it comes to contemporary collage and what a vital and vibrant role it plays in visual culture today. In a world where the boundary between truth and lies feels increasingly obfuscated, there’s a clarity in cut and paste; a sense of artistic agency in conflating references to make sense of, or communicate ideas from, the world around us.
By its very nature collage offers more capacity than most media for newness in an age where everything seems so directly pilfered from somewhere else. With the new technologies at hand, what was once a medium characterised by a certain lo-fi quality, can now embody high production values and complex technological processes. Part of the fun is in trying to decipher analogue from digital. Same as it ever was, collage can be representational, surreal or entirely abstract. Some artists work strictly analogue, using paper, scissors and glue; some use collage to augment works created predominantly in paint, charcoal, or pen and ink; some make highly text-based, typographic work; some use cutout found imagery as a springboard for witty visual puns; some use their own highly accomplished photography; others only those images that have been pilfered from elsewhere, digitally or physically.
The current and ever-swelling wave of collage artists working today proves the medium to be at a supremely exciting point in its history; opening up new questions about what “collage” is, what it can be, and what it can tell us. As collage-championing creative studio DR.ME sums it up: “Collage is everything.”
Text: Emily Gosling
In a wry play on words and in homage to his Dada artist heroes, Matthieu Bourel has coined the term “Data-ism” to describe his cinematic collage work. The France-born, Berlin-based artist creates a strange blend of classic Hollywood glamour and dystopian body horror through a mixture of hand-cutting techniques and digital manipulation, blurring (both physically and metaphorically) the lines between truthful historical representation and something a little more surreal, more dream-like. He revels in the power of combining unexpected visual signifiers and references to create striking new wholes, and delights in forming narratives that are at once strange and familiar.
Dennis Busch creates chaos out of the ordinary and reassembles it into a masterpiece of surrealism. The result: strange, witty, surprising, shocking, awkward, thought provoking, sentimental and one of a kind collage artworks. Since the late 1980s cutting, collaging and writing charmingly rude messages on found imagery is a big part of Dennis Busch’s life. His work suggests parallel universes in which the law of time does not apply. He praises the collage as a medium for transcending time, a state of creative dream walking. The artworks presented in the Curve are a glimpse into the world and mind of Dennis Busch highlighting his love for the imperfect and the absurd. Dennis Busch is the co-author of the acclaimed books „Age of Collage Vol. I and II” published by Gestalten Verlag.
Don’t let the ragged edges and salvaged scraps fool you: Anthony Gerace’s work is painstakingly precise. The London-based artist’s approach is a beguiling combination of the intuitive and the mechanical, with a heightened emphasis on the hand-crafted physicality of collage. His work often raises questions around time and memory through pieces that celebrate and negotiate the inherent deterioration of ephemera and printed matter. Repetition is another common thread, with some mosaic-like works presenting rows upon rows of tiny squares, meticulously cut and arranged to form disarming interventions into found photographic imagery.
For Milen Till there are always two sides to every story he tells. Milen, who studies at the Academy of Visual Arts in Munich under the German contemporary artist Gregor Hildebrandt, focuses in his work on combining two parallel worlds forming a surreal symbiosis. Whether this is paint on canvas, two tracks on the decks or two divergent sides of a compatible face. In his series “Chimeric Cuts” the former DJ pairs his artist heroes at eye level converging like two songs in a perfect transition. The series is based on “Chimera”, a fire-snorting monster of Greek mythology – lion in the front, goat in the middle, dragon in the back.