»Karin Sander: Gebrauchsbilder - Loans from Private and Public Collections«

Berlin, February 04, 2005 - February 26, 2005

"The Patina Paintings, called Gebrauchsbilder in German [the term implies both that the canvases are consumer objects and that they fulfil a need] are created in the locations where they are hung. The primed image carriers are taken, without prior manipulation, to a selected location and remain exposed there for a period of time to be determined. They absorb and reproduce the specific patina of this location. This process of absorption can continue infinitely or be interrupted at some point. Duration, the name of the location, and size determine the painting and provide its title."

  • Karin Sander

In Karin Sander's project 'Patina Paintings' ready-made canvases are sold to collectors. The buyer will hang the canvas in any location of his/her choice where it acquires a "patina". One of the collectors for example placed the canvas in a mailbox, and another drove it around in a convertible Lotus Elise. For her exhibition at Galerie Nordenhake Karin Sander has collected 'Patina Paintings' from private and public collections, so as to assemble them for one moment in time and place. As the exhibition's subtitle implies, the works are on loan to the gallery, and thus not for sale - and at the end of the show, they will be promptly returned to their respective locations. Since the project is a work in progress, new canvases can be purchased in the gallery, and consequently "used and consumed" in their new places. This is the first time the 'Patina Paintings' project is exhibited since its initiation in 1990.

You probably know the story of the young New York artist who earned his daily bread as a commercial designer and who one fine day discovered the Brillo boxes he himself had designed displayed as a work of art in Leo Castelli's gallery - raised to that status by Andy Warhol, whose name is today a household work while our unlucky artist-designer remains condemned to everlasting obscurity. Such might well be the fate of those amateur artists who paint their hearts out to produce naive portraits or naturalistic river landscapes on canvases that (for bargain prices and in a range of handy formats) they purchase direct from the manufacturer - only to come across one of those same canvases which, under Karin Sander's direction in cooperation with the collector, has been inscribed with the spatial and temporal marks of its exposure. The first of these canvases were placed in a coal cellar for five days, taken for a three-day voyage on the Baltic, or carried around by the artist for many years on her travels. The canvases have absorbed the patina of their surroundings - like diaries that automatically transcribe the situations in which they find themselves. Karin Sander's only artistic intervention consists in hanging the white canvas in the kitchen or cellar, or below deck on board ship, and in setting the parameters that decide when the picture is finished: after a lapse of time, at the end of a journey, or when the ship is back in port. The picture generates itself autonomously - autopoietically - and together with its title (Seefuchs: Three Days at Sea) presents itself as that projection surface which always, inevitably, constitutes every picture. The paradoxical label 'Gebrauchsbilder' (consumer/needed pictures) alludes semantically both to the original purpose for which these canvases were manufactured and to their intended users - who are presented in one of Karin Sander's Patina Paintings with an indispensable opportunity of grasping that art is just the opposite of covering a canvas with paint."

  • Harald Welzer, Translation Stephen Richards