Critics’ Picks

Claus Becker, Off-White with Goldie Hawn, 2008, pencil on paper, 7 x 5".


Claus Becker

Galerie Grunert
Kippingstrasse 22
January 26–February 25

Claus Becker’s art can be seen as an intimate rapprochement with beauty. He moves on an elevated plane of aesthetic refinement, from which he employs different media and motifs. In addition to his small and suggestive figurative drawings, he also makes simple objects and reliefs, including abstract and pictorial arrangements, as well as loosely hanging and sewn fabrics to which he often adds fine appliqués. As in Becker’s other exhibitions, this show combines these different ways of artmaking and subtly engages the space. Typically, artists exhibit their work in the more private spaces of this gallery-cum-home, providing a contrast to the domestic rooms. Yet Becker’s harmoniously installed exhibition appears to be part of the natural setting. As his work strives to intensify an individual cosmos of beauty, it functions as a commentary on its private and public context.

Amerikanische Nacht (American Night), 2008, is a five-panel work based on unusual combinations of materials: Becker applied partially broken, soot-colored sticks of used fireworks to four of the panels; all have black backgrounds. The night sky, infinity, and a hint of vanity are evoked, as he offers traces of color that emerge from the dark background. The work, however, immediately eschews a sense of overt romanticism through its gestures to reduced, rough, and prudish abstraction. His drawings, typically based on fashion magazines, differ in their materials; in these works, Becker combines gestures, gazes, and postures that recall sketches. By adapting personal icons and attractive poses, he succeeds in creating masterful, expressive arrangements. In one, Off-White with Goldie Hawn, 2008, he combines advertising and film references with a sense of intimacy. Becker’s subtle approach takes beauty from aestheticism to the sphere of the absurd, with all the latent danger that entails.

Translated from German by Jane Brodie.