Critics’ Picks


Jonas Lipps

Tanya Leighton
Kurfürstenstrasse 24/25
February 24–April 14, 2018

Going to school means being confronted with a series of possibilities: How might you calculate the slated angle of a roof, review a novel, or paint a picture? Jonas Lipps’s new show of nearly fifty works (mostly untitled and from 2016 to 2018) touches on this theme, not only because many of them directly reference spaces of education but also through their sheer breadth of style. Save for the artist’s remarkably consistent craftsmanship, each piece could be read as the outcome of a different pupil’s absorption of a different lesson; each its own inner world.

What lines the walls of the gallery are mostly watercolors, all hung at the same height, to be contemplated one after the other. A three-dimensional wallet made from cardboard (Wallet #2, 2017) seems to contain the trappings of adult life as imagined by a child: a dry-cleaning bill, a photo ID, and a Maestro debit card. A more finely detailed picture depicts a fishing vessel named Frau Lehrerin (Ms. Teacher) high on an unruly sea, a scenario in which even an authority figure has lost hold of the reins. Works such as these speak to the opportunities and terrors that living at the mercy of institutions bring us, regardless of age.

Others are highly surreal (a cloaked character drawing cracks in the sky with a hose of bright yellow) or completely abstract (dots of green, yellow, and red over photocopied pages of a book). In all this variety, the works share an ability to hold your gaze; only the next picture over can compel you to move on.