October 13, 2007
August 3, 2007—For his fifth solo exhibition at Anton Kern Gallery, German painter Eberhard Havekost has put together a body of 16 paintings under the heading “Zensur.” Thematically and formally intertwined, the paintings address and demonstrate the suppression of visual information. The show is held together by a systematic obscuring and blocking-out of certain sections of the image and by a subdued grey and blue palette.
The English reading of the title is “censorship” and suggests a kind of painterly self-experiment on the artist’s part. Three works depict blankets loosely tossed in a pile and painted with photorealism’s attention to the source image and a baroque sense of drapery and transcendental richness. A triptych entitled “Dunkle Modellwelt” (“Dark Model World”) represents buildings shattered into pieces as if wrecked by the invisible hand of a deranged model-maker. A second triptych expands the mode of blocking-out to the point of almost erasing the underlying image of an interior space and thereby generating paintings of highly abstract qualities. However, rather than obscuring the information and leaving it fashionably ambiguous, Havekost draws attention to its multi-layered and charged meanings. Is the depicted bleakness and devastation affected by natural causes? Are the casually tossed textiles actually emergency blankets? Is it an image of the American flag behind the black rectangle? What remains at the painterly core of these works is the performance of visual self-censorship, the psychological and epistemological question of how we deny ourselves to perceive images of the world.