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Markus Huemer
"Elephants Are the Only Mammals That Cannot Jump", oil on canvas, digital

2016

$29,000

About

Markus Huemer (*1968 in Linz, Austria, lives in Berlin) studied painting at the University of Art and Design in Linz and at the Art Academy in Dusseldorf. He had institutional solo-exhibitions – amongst other places – in Hannover (Sprengel Museum, 2019); Bratislava (Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum, 2018); Prague (DOX Centre for Contemporary Art, 2009), Vienna (MUMOK Museum Moderner Kunst, 2007); Wiesbaden (Nassauischer Kunstverein, 1998). And he will have solo-exhibitions in Berlin (Czech Center, 2020; Haus am Waldsee, 2021). His works have been collected by – amongst others – the Albertina, Vienna, Daimler Art Collection, Leinemann-Stiftung für Bildung und Kunst, Berlin and Hamburg, MARTa Herford, Herford, Montblanc International, Hamburg, MUMOK Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna, Museum gegenstandsfreie Kunst, Otterndorf, Nordico – Museum der Stadt Linz, Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna, Saarlandmuseum, Saarbrücken, Collection Deutsche Bank, Collection European Patent Office, Munich, Collection of the Region Oberösterreich, Linz, Collection Ploner, Albertina, Vienna, Collection T-Mobile Austria, Viena, Collection Heiner Wemhöner, Herford and Berlin, Collection of the Federal Republic of Germany, Bonn, Sprengel Museum Hannover, Hannover, City of Cologne, Cologne, City Gallery, Nordhorn, ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe. During his studies he came in contact with media art through the festival Ars Electronica, later also through a scholarship at the Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe. Huemer works with the media of painting and drawing and creates also interactive installations, environments or computer animations. He problematizes and analyzes digital media in the context of classical art, by using art and media history. Knowing that painted worlds, as well as digitally depicted worlds, are imagined and completely artificial, Huemer develops series of works to examine the problem and construction of reality and its perception. In order to do so, he – often – uses multiple digital sources for each painting. Thus, we seem to see something that we believe to recognize – at first sight. However, once we look closer, we understand that we do not understand (anything). Because what we see is not a logical, plausible real space, nor history, but an image for which rather a large group of digital images have been "sewn" together, ad not an image that depicts any kind of analogue reality. Together with that come titles that are absurd, illogical, and weird and that do not have any relation with what has been (seemingly) depicted. These titles underscore the non-existant function of the work as a tool to depict reality. So, while it is (almost) true that “Elephants Are the Only Mammals That Cannot Jump“ (we need to add rhinos and pot-bellied pigs to that list), this assertion does not make sense as a title of probably any painting and certainly not as the title of this painting. Because we do not see an elephant nor anything that reminds us of an elephant. What we do see, however, is a stylized plant and the silhouette of a butterfly and the silhouette of another animal that canot be identified. The plant and in fact the whole image looks as if it had been taken from a playing card. We do not, however, see an entire plant, but rather four different plants that have been mixed together. And the image has no logic in the sense of "the image depicts reality". It is a totally constructed, abstracted thing – this being an act that can be easily done on the computer or with the idea of the digital availabilty of sections of images in mind (in the analogue world it is probably rather difficult to image a plant like the one we see). For this work, Huemer has appropriated images from the famous Renaissance scientist and artist Maria Sibylla Merian. In the 17th century, she collected insects and plants, in order to depict and further research them (with colored etchings that were published and distributed in albums). She had an approach to science and research that was very much connected to the empirical knowledge of things. Now, for the series that use her widely published images, Huemer takes her etchings and blurs them, turns them into something that withholds knowledge and insight, something that one could describe as seemingly figurative (but rather abstract). Formally, Huemer created borders between combined images of, as it seems, four different plants. As if he had cut triangular elements from entire images based on Merian and put them arbitrarily together. These different layers of colors not only counteract the forms that were originally depicted by Merian, but they do also counteract the whole idea of knowledge through images and visualization. What we do see is, instead of "reality depicted", a constructed reality, that throws us – the viewer – back to what we actually see: a painting, in this case executed with the two non-colors black and white as well as with the color grey. All color material has been applied with a brush that dotted, dot by dot, as if it was a digital (and not a painterly) process.

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