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Strychnin Gallery Berlin presents: Waldkammer. New works by Madeline von Foerster

10-28-2008 01:04 PM CET | Arts & Culture

Press release from: Strychnin Gallery

The painting Amazon Cabinet by Madeline von Foerster almost didn't make it to the Art Fair 21 in Cologne but was duly sold the opening night.

The painting Amazon Cabinet by Madeline von Foerster almost didn't make it to the Art Fair 21 in Cologne but was duly sold the opening night.

Incredible intensity and vividness of color are characteristic features of works by the old Dutch Masters such as Jan van Eyck or Hans Memling, who are among American artist Madeline von Foerster’s main sources of inspiration. Paintings of this time period achieved a great sense of touch through carefully applied light effects, which especially shows in the realistic, tactile display of folds of cloths and drapes. The basis of these astonishing works was the discovery of a new tecnique: oil painting. Von Foerster studied the so-called Misch technique in Austria under Philip Rubinov-Jacobson. This technique uses an elaborate method of layers to form the basis of the painting, and employs both oil as well as egg tempera. As one of very few artists today, Madeline von Foerster employs this complicated technique in her breathtaking work. Opens November 7th at 7:00 p.m.

Von Foerster’s new series titled “Waldkammer” invites the viewer into the bewitching, claustrophobic realm of the Cabinets of Curiosities, or Wunderkammern. The concept of such cabinets was originally an invention of the era of Enlightenment and the Baroque, where wealthy lords and patricians created collections of a wide variety of objects displaying the multi-faceted "wonders" of God’s creations (and especially the offerings of newly discovered, exotic territories). Coral, minerals, taxidermy, and the like - were lovingly and often fetishistically contained and displayed.
The “Waldkammer” series consists of nine paintings that explore humanity's often destructive relationship with nature and the crisis of deforestation in particular. These painted wooden cabinets allude to the once-living trees that were their source: Some are carved into the shape of women personifying the trees as living things. Meanwhile, the "curiosities" displayed are actual species, dependant on the trees for survival.
The omnipresence of cabinetry or other wooden framework becomes a symbol for man’s way of relating to nature: within the cabinets, nature is controlled, compartmentalized and cataloged according to a specific collector’s spirit. This same framework forms a barrier between nature and ourselves that prevents an immediate, uninhibited experience of nature.
As carved wood is a symbol for the tree it came from, it is also a reference to man’s disruption of natural cycles and the history of nature’s exploitation through man. This "martyrdom" of nature is implied in the carved figures, which echo the reliquaries and saint grottos that were the medieval antecedents to the Cabinets of Curiosities of the Age of Reason. By correlating these two types of collections – the scientific “Wunderkammer” of early Enlightenment and the deep devotion of reliquaries – von Foerster endeavors to create a vocabulary for a new possible relationship to the natural world.
Madeline von Foerster was educated at the California College of Arts and Crafts and the Freie Kunstschule Mannheim, Germany. Born in San Francisco from an Austrian-German-Russian background, she now lives and works in New York. The “Waldkammer” series can be seen at Strychnin Gallery Berlin from November 7th until December 7th. Part of the series was already shown (and sold) at Art Fair 21 in Cologne in early October.

With galleries in three bustling hotspots – New York City, Berlin, and London – Strychnin Gallery is a playground for artists from all around the globe. It is a place where collaboration is encouraged, new projects are constantly developed and creativity is the one and only thing that truly counts.

Owned by charismatic curator Yasha Young, Strychnin is dedicated to presenting emerging American artists to the European art world and vice versa. It features a variety of artists with particular individual styles rather than artists belonging to a collective “hip” movement. If you insist on putting a label on them, try lowbrow turned highbrow, pop surrealism or fantastic realism among others.

Founded in Brooklyn in 1998, the gallery opened a European showroom in Berlin in 2002. The US gallery has since moved to a location in Manhattan’s Chelsea district, opening with a group show featuring over 70 artists in October of 2006. Strychnin Gallery opened a third location in East London’s vibrant art scene right off of Brick Lane in October 2007.

The gallery participates in major international art fairs on a regular basis, including Bridge Art Fair, Liste, or Art21 in Cologne, which appointed gallery owner Yasha Young to its selection committee in 2008.

Strychnin Gallery
Boxhagener Straße 36
10245 Berlin

Opening times: Thursday -Sunday 1–6 pm, Saturday until 7 p.m. and by appointment

PR Contact: Iris Bitter
Phone: +49 30 9700 2035

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