Scoping my inbox





I often complain about some of the strange and hateful emails I get. However lately, the opposite kind of random emails have been falling into my inbox. They are filled with kindness from strangers and beautiful things. One such email I received recently is from artist, Philipp Haager, whom I wrote about here.

There’s something about Philipp’s work that just speaks to me on a visceral level, primarily, and then I move on to consider the intellectual implications of it. Not all art follows this logic for me, sometimes the intellect dominates and I feel like I’m doing a disservice to both the artist and their work. At the same time, I’m increasingly unwilling to bend the intellect to any will but its own. Isn’t it lovely though when emotions and thought combine through a piece of art? That’s how I feel about Philipp’s work.

I re-read what I wrote about his work and this passage is worth repeating when describing it: “The eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Romantic paintings I am familiar with symbolise a different conceptual world where form is grand, but self-contained. Haager’s paintings, on the other hand, require the viewer’s participation alongside the artist’s vision. These are paintings that are so layered, they literally require you as the viewer to interpret them through your own vision – they move you back into the outside world, and into context. This movement back to the external world of the viewer is a postmodernist tendency that self-reflexively reminds us that all art is the product of a specific time and specific place, rather than something that emerges pristinely transcendent, rooted in an ahistoric Sublime. In a sense, Haager simultaneously calls upon a Romantic ethos while requiring a postmodernist response; and this is an exciting contradictory pull that seeks a ‘both-and’ relationship with art.”

The images above are updated room-shots from Philipp’s last show, Paramountscope, combining paintings he worked on for several years and shown in several exhibitions. In the document Philipp sent me, these paintings are described as a process of “constant questioning of the meaning of the image itself: What we see and how we see, the changing nature of our gaze. The exhibition title alludes both to the dramatic, cinematic aspect of large-format pictures as well as to an inquiry into the visual essence of our media-attuned perception as reflected in painting. Similar to double exposures in photography, or the restoration and digitalisation of old (film) material, the artist has reworked what are in some cases older works that have already been exhibited under a different title or in a different format and rearranged them for this show.”

There’s so much I want to write in response to this, perhaps I will at a later date when I have more time. But in the meantime, you can gaze at some of his images.

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On a somewhat related note, a few weeks ago I received the longest, but also one of the kindest, most sensitive and intelligent emails from someone who reads my blog. It shouldn’t matter that he was a man, and really I’m not in favour of giving guys a cookie every time they act decently to female bloggers. But I do want to point out: women bloggers get a lot of crap thrown their way. I don’t pretend that the emails I get, and have gotten, even compare to some of the constant barrage that other women writers receive. In comparison, my situation is relatively mild. However, when a man who reads your blog sends you a supportive email instead of an abusive one, it can’t help but feel like a glimmer of hope – hope that the loudest misogynist voices can be counteracted by others. So if you’re a man who loves reading a woman’s blog, send her a kind email. Seriously, we get told to shut up all the time; for being too smart/too dumb, too pretty/too ugly; or, for whatever flavour of the month insult it is; or, for simply existing. It would be nice to hear from those who refuse to tell women to go sit quietly in their corner.

And, thanks Andrea!

Images, from top to bottom: Paramountscope, Strzelski Galerie, Stuttgart 2013 (f. l.: n. T. (white); Nearfield, Phase 13; Paramountscope, Strzelski Galerie, Stuttgart 2013 (f. l.: Nearfield, Phase 15 / melting memory (red), Nearfield, Phase 16 / melting memory (green); Paramountscope, Strzelski Galerie, Stuttgart 2013 (f. l.: Nearfield, Phase 15 + 16, Phase 11 (Vers. 2); Paramountscope, Strzelski Galerie, Stuttgart 2013 (v. l. “Tale about a chinese moon”, Phase 14, Misty Memory, Abstract Painting No. 1 (white).

All images are copyrighted to Philipp Haager.