Galerie Gerhard Hofland is showing a solo exhibition by German artist Jochen Mühlenbrink. In his art, he applies the trompe-l'oeil effect, creating an enigmatic visual language. Mühlenbrink: "It's not about fooling people, it's about wondering like a child while I paint. It's my medium and I love it."
Jochen Mühlenbrink, J'MWP, 2023, Galerie Gerhard Hofland
His paintings look like see-through views as we recognise them from a fogged-up window. With streaks of condensation in the foreground and a hyper-realistic everyday scene in the background. Through the play of revealing and hiding, Mühlenbrink challenges the viewer with the question: je vois donc je suis (I look therefore I am)? This title refers to his recently published catalogue, which highlights his oeuvre from 2018-2023. Art historian Anna Heinze writes in the catalogue:
"We are able to recognise something truthful in this deception because our human senses (and our sense of touch in particular) are needed to understand the visual. We need to know what it feels like to apply a strip of sticky tape to a surface, and how that tape can crease in such a way that it can no longer be smoothed out, to then be tempted to try and peel the tape off from Mühlen-brink’s Mirror Paintings. We need to be familiar with the urge to draw shapes with our finger on a fogged-up train window to want to continue drawing on the Window Paintings with our own fingers.”
Jochen Mühlenbrink, WP, 2023, Galerie Gerhard Hofland
In other words, when observing and interpreting Mühlenbrink, we are thrown back into our human frames of reference. The hyper-realist painting technique enhances this effect. Besides the optical illusion, another question is a central one, for what does an image signify in our digital era? If you take a quick glance, in a work like WP (2023) you see a 'doodle' of a child on a fogged-up car window, a quick action like impulsively posting content on social media. Those who dwell on it longer realise that we are looking at a highly technical, layer-by-layer constructed painting. The result is a sequence of conscious choices regarding light, shadow, space, illusion and the in-between space. Mühlenbrink sharpens our senses.
Jochen Mühlenbrink, J'M ADMSKI, Galerie Gerhard Hofland
Jochen Mühlenbrink (1980, Freiburg) began his studies at the Düsseldorf Art Academy in 2001 and graduated as a master's student of Markus Lüpertz in 2007. Since then, his work has been exhibited in several exhibitions in Germany and abroad, including Kunstmuseum Solingen, Bundeskunsthalle, Kunsthalle Osnabrück, Kunsthal Rotterdam, Museum Het Valkhof and Arti et Amicitiae. His work is part of several private and public collections, including G2 Kunsthalle, Leipzig, Stadtmuseum Oldenburg, Deutsche Bundesbank, ING Collection and Collection De Groen. In late 2023 and early 2024, Mühlenbrink will exhibit simultaneously in the Netherlands, Taiwan, Denmark and Italy.
The recently published publication 'J'M donc je suis' (2023) is available through Galerie Gerhard Hofland. J'M ADMSKI is on show until 21 October 2023.