Some artists confront nature and the everyday world and illustrate it with all its beauty and mystery intact. Others expose it for all its contradictions and obscurity. In either case, appreciation and interpretation are best left to the viewer.
Christian Rothmann, a Berlin artist, offers his audience similar points of view of the natural and the manmade, but never in the same show or medium. Two current exhibits in the Old Market, Rothmann’s Roboter and Here and There, demonstrate this duplicity with humor and honesty in a way that transcends the ordinary.
Rothmann’s shows highlight his two different talents of photography and painting. Both of these shows document and express his artistic expression, but each in a very distinctive way.
Rothmann’s Roboter, which continues through May 31 at the Garden of the Zodiac Gallery in the Old Market Passageway, consists of large scale photographs. One of photography’s primary roles is to focus on what is essential to the viewer. In this case however, it is the photographer’s eye, not the camera, that decides what those essentials are and how to interpret them.
Certain parts of the robots are blurred causing the viewer to focus on what Rothmann wants us to see. “As you can see it (the robot) is not focused,” the artist said, “and I am not interested in the clear product of photography. It actually would be cleaned up, but I am adjusting the photographs because these guys have been standing for over 30 years on top of a bathroom.”
In one photo there is a large smile that shows a cropped face of a robot. The large red upside down triangle at least makes you think that the robot is smiling back at you. Or is it? How can random shapes take on such human emotions? Plus, there is sadness to this piece so heavily covered in dust. Someone once loved this toy, but now it has been abandoned hoping to be loved once more.
“This is dust that is representing time. Time in two ways – time standing somewhere and time after 30 to 40 years they are going to be replaced with new issues of them,” Rothmann said. “They are still produced in Japan, and it is the last area of toys before the computer and video games took over.”
Here and There, on display at Anderson O’Brien Gallery through April 28, features paintings of flowers that look so simple, but yet they are bursting with both color and texture. This work is an abstraction of travel, with an emphasis on expressing a sense of place more exotic than familiar.
In “Small Landscape 1”, there are bright vivid colors of yellows, reds, greens, blues and white. The large mountain in the background gives the viewer a sense of looking at an ancient woodcut reminiscent of Japan. His work makes the images seem deliberate and peaceful. The broad brushstroke he uses achieves a very supple effect which adds to the softness of this show.
“I am always playing with colors and changing colors,” he said, “and I love the Baroque style, and on the other hand I love the minimalism in Japanese art. So all the monochrome parts of my paintings are connected to the Japanese silence.”
“Blossom in Blue” is another interpretative piece that reminds the viewer of the Meditation Sea. The light blue rectangle subsequently placed by the dark blue flower transports us to Greece. The little red blooms project off the canvas wishing spring was here.
“I have always been an abstract painter for many, many years,” Rothmann explained. “But, the abstract forms and circles have always been related to nature, to landscape. And, after a while I ended up making circles. After the circles I started doing flowers and blossoms. I love the way to create something with just a drop of color. It’s just color, but in your head and in your imagination it becomes a flower blossom. So, it’s a little trick with using color.”
For a different kind of distorted distinction, Christian Rothmann has successfully brought together his art ability in both photography and painting. No small feat for such a talented artist. There is hardness to the metal and rigidness to the robots that poignantly reflects a time gone by that juxtaposes the softness of flowers that it represents the natural world. In these two shows we see both at once – the serene idyllic flowers and the industrialized modern world dusty with age told by one voice with many different facets.
Here and There continues through April 28, 2013, Anderson O’Brien Fire Art, 1108 Jackson Street, (402)884.0911 www.aobfineart.com
Rothmann’s Roboter continues through May 31, 2013, The Moving Gallery/Garden of the Zodiac, 1042 Howard Street, (402)341.1877