Felix Droese Out of Control

 

Felix Droese

In 2016, I saw a great show by Felix Droese in Hamburg at Produzentengalerie, the main piece was a life size cut out silhouette of a double decker bus with the heads of passengers at each window, the wheels were also heads, upside down. It had been cut out of black paper with none of the skill and dextrocity of, for instance, Kara Walker. It was rendered rather with the disregard and cack-handedness of a very young child. This lack of formal sophistication is all of the charm of Droese’s work. This drawing ‘Erbarmen als soziale Form’ 2012; roughly translated as ‘pity as social form’, has the same disregard for finesse, detail or the usefulness of accurate planning as the bus piece. Figures in dark recesses look on as a seemingly depressed couple eat a meagre dinner. Like an idea for some sort of poverty tourism tv show scribbled in the pub, it is a rough diagram for an event, rendered in the artists glib and anarchic hand. I am still enthralled by ‘the hand of the artist’, by the marks made by the particularity of the artist’s whim, mood, physicality, choice, materials, thoughts, intuition. I realise it is unfashionable and a lazy method of screening artworks, but I want it all there; I do not want to have to think too much, work too hard to find a way into an artwork. I want to see the anger on the paper.  I like to think that in these circumstances, the artist is completely exposed, vulnerable, strengths and weaknesses are all visible and open to scrutiny and criticism. I have been wondering about how this type of work often counters the work of artists who hide and reveal nothing of themselves in their work. Hide behind things, behind other art, behind a mask or costume, behind a medium, behind archival material, behind history, behind the technical skills of others, behind usefulness as opposed to uselessness. This art can often manifests itself as performance (vacuous attention seeking) where artists act or take on other personas, but also in projects that demand expansive and costly production values that utilise other disciplines. The artist will often engage with a community, have people as material, often people with skill sets they admire, making art that showcases the skill/lives of others. The power involved in the control becomes the practice. It is like a contemporary baroque where organisational logistics and elaborate presentation is key and overwhelms any idea or sense of touch.

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