John Bock and Nader Ahriman

John Bock and Nader Ahriman

Kunstverein in Hamburg

Nader Ahriman, The Hegel Machine Meets World-Soul, 2012–13. Oil on canvas, 120 x 140 cm. Courtesy Galerie Klosterfelde, Berlin.

May 3, 2013

John Bock
Der Pappenheimer


Nader Ahriman

Until June 30, 2013

Der Kunstverein, since 1817.
Klosterwall 23
20095 Hamburg

John Bock (b. 1965, lives in Berlin) initially studied Business Administration before continuing his education under Franz Erhard Walther at the University of Fine Arts Hamburg until 1997. It was already during this time that he developed the format of lecture performance, which continues to shape his work today. These actions somewhat misleadingly perhaps referred to as “lectures” unite Dada and absurd theater, the grotesque with self-irony and always directly involve the audience. Sometimes it becomes part of the actions, but often it becomes a mirror of his own presence. Whereas Bock initially appeared alone on the stage, he was later joined by amateur and professional actors. All of them wear strange costumes, body additions or become part of organic-looking apparatus from which it is not unusual for a slimy liquid to drip. With time, the “lectures” morphed into room-filling, sprawling installations, in which the props and costumes become artistic sculptures and objects. Bock builds tunnels that visitors can only negotiate bent over, or they have to clamber over swinging bridges or rickety stairs. What interests him is chaos, questioning safety and the norm. Not without reason are his installations pretty much the antithesis of the aseptic white cubes of the art business. He establishes a counterpoint to the reduced exhibition rooms in which everything is spick and span and reduced to the bare essentials. His works sprawl, take up the entire room, they are colorful and startling—and capable of repeatedly shaking up his audience. With his presentation at the Kunstverein Hamburg, John Bock is getting his first institutional show in Hamburg, a long overdue appreciation of his highly varied oeuvre. Bock transforms the first floor of the Kunstverein into a total installation uniting the various aspects of his work and functioning as a fragrance station, whose origins remain hidden to visitors.

On several occasions in the past not only the end of philosophy, but also the end of painting was proclaimed—with either regret or relief. Nader Ahriman (b. 1964, lives in Berlin) unites both and in doing so consciously sets himself apart. He “paints” philosophical concepts. His drawings, collages and paintings reflect key topics such as man, machine, the relationship of both to each other and to nature, or man’s search for an intellectual home. Yet it is not easy to discover these subjects in his constellations of forms and figures. “I don’t wish my images to be decoded like posters; they have to be interpreted.” Specifically, observers are confronted with complex and charged dream-like images in which the supernatural and subconscious are latent. Ahriman’s symbolic system is hermetically composed, logical in itself. If we consider the drawings in their set order they reveal their inner structure and logic, but do they refer to anything outside of this system? In the end, observers are left with the deep longing to explain the seemingly baffling profusion. It is this desire that Ahriman describes with his series “Etudes of transcendental homelessness,” thus simultaneously revealing his artistic approach.

The Kunstverein is funded by Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg – Ministry of Culture. The exhibition of Nader Ahriman is funded by Stiftung Kunstfonds.

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Kunstverein in Hamburg
May 3, 2013

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