Bernard Föll Retrospective
from: 07.02.2014 7pm to: 08.03.2014
Retrospective exhibition of painting, film scripts, collages and Super 8 films by Berlin artist Bernard Föll.
Exhibition duration: February 8th – March 8th 2014, 2-7pm
Opening Reception: February 7 2014, 7pm, with an introduction to Bernard Föll’s oeuvre by art historian, writer and curator Dr. Peter Funken.
Closing Reception: March 8th, 2014, 7pm, Super 8 screening, with an introduction by noted photographer, filmmaker and script writer Heiner Mühlenbrock, and live soundtrack.
Bernard Föll’s career as a visual artist spans well over 30 years. Autodidact as an artist, but widely educated and resourceful like few of his peers in bohemian Berlin, Föll was first active as actor and director in West Berlin’s anarchic super 8 film movement of the early 1980’s, “a creative Berlin which to this day exerts its influence on German pop culture and beyond.”
As Chrisaphenia Danai Papagrigoriou noted, to these artists, super 8 was not a random or stylistic device, but a deliberate punk choice for an obsolete cheap creative tool, one used without any kind of academic approval or external support structure, evolving mainly in Kreuzberg’s bars, artist-run art spaces, clubs and run down backyards.
Many artists of this time and place worked with any medium available, some of them declaring themselves “Geniale Dilettanten” (ingenious dilettantes). This scene’s love of trash and disregard for distinctions between high and low culture is still apparent in Bernard Föll’s paintings. As is his love of Art Vache (“bad art”) as practiced by painters like Magritte, Picabia, Polke, Lausen, Kippenberger and the Oehlen brothers.
Föll first used collage and graphic art compositions while designing hand-made posters for super 8 film events in the early 1980’s. This interest in graphics subsequently led him to produce cutout and stencil art works. Since the early 1990’s, he has been painting predominantly using stencils, long before Street-art made this technique trendy.
Instead of using museum art as reference, the painter strictly uses found imagery from the mass media, lowbrow sources such as Italian porn comix, pulp literature, and the covers of the many records he collected over the years as a DJ. in Berlin’s art- and punk/new wave scene. To label his paintings as simply Pop-art, would not be quite correct however. Föll’s practice of incorporating political and societal themes; decontextualizing and re-presenting politically incorrect images in unexpected ways may rather place his work in the tradition of New York’s “Pictures Generation” such as Richard Prince, who can be said to question and process darker sides of pop culture in a more critical attempt at “talking back to the media” than Pop-art was willing to.
Ideological strife and warfare are recurrent subjects in many of Föll’s works since 9/11. Asked about the main preoccupations of his art, the artist cites philosopher Eric Voegelin’s “pneumopathological deformation” of reality where it morphs into ideology, psychosis, and violence. This theme is not only taken on pictorially, but also technically in the way imagery is deliberately shifted, distorted or destroyed.
Religious themes can also be found in Föll’s work. The painter was educated by Franciscans, which the artist describes as the most hippie-like of the Christian orders, ascribing to them an aversion to industry and business, and citing Pasolini’s movie Uccellacci e Uccellini as an ode to Franciscan poetry and radicalism. Like Pasolini, Föll’s progressive political stance and atheism are informed by Catholicism.
Juxtapositions of artistic multiculturalism, trash, politics, and skepticism may well represent the essence of the artist’s work.
Bernard Föll has exhibited throughout Germany; in Rome, Vienna and Liverpool, and took part in the M.A.I.S traveling exhibition series. The artist is also active as curator, for instance of the series of Club-art shows at the Haus am Lützowplatz and has independently curated and organized several group shows in Berlin.