27 Hochzeiten & ein Todesfall
08 Feb 2024, 6–9 pm
Text by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas
Early in the morning, as the first rays of sunshine rise over the rolling hills of the Pays d’Auge, Christoph Blawert sets off to find a place to paint in the great outdoors.
In Normandy, where the landscape is less spectacular than in rugged Brittany, the painter, who was born in Offenburg in 1981, has found a place that is predestined for his very special plein-air landscape paintings. Right next to the chic seaside resort of Deauville is the small town of Trouville with its wide beach. This is where Christoph Blawert has discovered many of his landscape motifs since 2019, on bright spring days as well as in the warm-toned light of summer or winter: Hedgerow landscapes, patches of woodland, a lonely Norman cottage behind a white fence, an apple tree with pink blossoms. However, he is less concerned with the exact elaboration of the motifs than with the arrangement of the paint application.
All paintings are executed in oil paint on cardboard in the extended postcard or greeting card format of 18 x 12 cm. They are created alla prima, i.e. the oil paint is applied directly and opaquely in relatively quick brushstrokes in a single operation. Retouching, overpainting, underpainting, wiping away and other correction techniques are avoided in favor of a spontaneous style.
Much like the Impressionist painters, Christoph Blawert captures the magical mood of the moment and the special radiance of light in his compositions created in nature. He thus gives the viewer direct access to his sensual perception at the moment of painting. On the one hand, this places him in the painterly tradition of such famous fellow artists as Monet, Sisley, Renoir, Pissarro, Cézanne and van Gogh, who also in Normandy founded in the second half of the 19th century with Impressionism a new style that revolutionized painting. But there are also parallels to the landscapes created in recent years by the 44 years older British painter David Hockney, who resides in Normandy. Hockney, however, paints in nature on a digital iPad, whereas Christoph Blawert prefers it classic with analog brush, palette and oil paint.
Blawert loves the nomadic lifestyle. He leads the vagabond life of a painting flâneur, sometimes organizing a spontaneous exhibition on a park bench on the beach in Deauville. This includes long walks by the sea, overnight stays in the great outdoors (to find the perfect spot to paint at the very first light of dawn), gazing lost in thought at the clouds (which is then reflected in almost abstract depictions of the sky), occasional conversations with passers-by or even lingering and writing for hours in a café in Antwerp, his current place of residence.
Some of the paintings shown here Christoph Blawert painted during a walk along the Rhine. The titles always refer to the places where they were created: “Andernach”, “Loreley”, “Rüdisheim” – whereby the sometimes incorrect spelling is one of the artist’s trademarks.
The title of the exhibition is an ironic twist on the 1994 romantic comedy Four Weddings and a Funeral starring Hugh Grant. The small-format works dispense with depictions of people. They are arranged frieze-like in the form of a continuous ribbon in the exhibition space , allowing the viewer the possibility of direct comparison – especially in the act of slowly walking past. This conceptual method of presentation creates something like a Gerhard Richter moment in a very casual and relaxed way.
The large diptych in the office of the Produzentengalerie Hamburg, on the other hand, shows a woman in the grass. It forms the counterpoint to the landscape depictions in the main exhibition space, declared in the title as the ‘Funeral’.
Christoph Blawert (*1981 in Offenburg) lives and works in Antwerp, BE. 27 Hochzeiten & ein Todesfall (27 Weddings & a Funeral) is Blawert’s fourth solo exhibition at the Produzentengalerie Hamburg since 2012. His works have also been shown in a solo exhibition at ph-projects, the former location of Produzentengalerie Hamburg in Berlin and were part in numerous gallery group exhibitions and projects. For his exhibitions, Christoph Blawert often conceives stage-like settings in either the gallery space, or in hotel rooms, on park benches, in pubs, in a caravan or in a palace in Antwerp, Berlin, Hamburg, New York, Palermo and Trouville. His work has furthermore been exhibited at KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, Kunstverein in Hamburg, Kunstverein Bremerhaven and TICK TACK, Antwerp. A group exhibition at the Kunsthalle Recklinghausen will follow in September 2024.