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Christof Mascher
Rum Doodle / oil painting, story telling, figuration, 19th century, conceptual

2016

$10,000

About

Christof Mascher studied at the University of Art Braunschweig and graduated in 2009 as a Master Student of Walter Dahn. Like his famous teacher, he is focusing on figurative paintings, but was also active in the field of pottery and sculpture. Mascher paints paintings in which quite often also persons appear. If you look at the history of art, then paintings with persons are either portraits or history paintings or genre scenes. Of course, there are also street scenes or interiors with figures, but then they usually have a portrait or history or genre character. But this is not what characterizes the paintings by Christof Mascher. He is not interested in the historical hero and what he experienced, or the individual personality to be portrayed, or a scene from everyday contexts that is visualized for our amusement or instruction. Rather, he uses his characters like emblems. They symbolize something that they are not. As in the case of "Rum Doodle", for example: In the center of the picture we see a group consisting of six figures. All of them wear a frock coat and a tricorn or bicorn, as we know them from the 18th century. While one of the men sits on a chair, turned away from us, the other five men gather around him standing. Their faces are unrecognizable to us, as is the target of their attention. Because there, where they are looking, is basically nothing to see. The men are standing on the edge of a kind of terrace. Above the men is what appears to be a brightly lit, but otherwise undefined architecture. And below them we see a monkey sitting on a pedestal, a little to the left off the center. He is holding a lantern in his right hand, looking strained to the left out of the picture and holding his left hand to his ear, as if he is trying hard to understand something. A little below again Christof Mascher has painted a mountain, perhaps a volcano. Actually, it is not necessary to describe all these things. For a careful observer sees them anyway. But: the more we look at the details, the clearer it becomes that they have no connection. That they only float on the picture surface – and are not arranged in a clearly defined, logical picture space. In terms of content, too, no connection between these narrative elements can be seen. The men's traditional costume was worn by officers and the nobility, especially in the 18th century. In the same way, the hero Neo (played by Keanu Reeves) from the "Matrix" films wore such a frock coat. So, also on this level Mascher does not give us a clear idea of what we (should) see. The title of the work, "Rum Doodle" makes us think of the liquor rum on the one hand (and therefore maybe also of pirate movies in which rum is often consumed by the protagonists). But why is it also called "Doodle"? Maybe because some parts of this painting look as if they were sketched (the monkey, the men)? Or is it a pun, with which Mascher leads us on the wrong track: because if we quickly pronounce the two words together and then understand them as a mixed German-English term, it could mean as much as aimlessly playing music or even aimless scribbling. And that in turn would indicate that Christof Mascher wants to create art, painting composed in color and space. He is not a narrator, at best he pretends to be... And in this way he leads us in the opposite direction of narration, that is: to the significance of painting itself.

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