Holger Kalberg, Portrait 4, 2014, mixed media on canvas with frame
Holger Kalberg’s exhibition THE FAMILY explores the legacy of high Modernism and its related utopian models of thinking, presenting new paintings and sculptures that examine and critique modes of Modernist vocabulary.
Kalberg describes his own relationship with Modernism as “conflicted appreciation,” often engaging with the aesthetics of the mode while at the same time critiquing the model. The works presented in this exhibition follow Kalberg’s desire for a renewed reflection of Modernist formalism through an investigation into the artist's own studio practice, motivation, and early influences, especially Joseph Beuys and his socialist/utopian agenda.
Both the painting and sculptural works in the exhibition possess a handmade quality, contrary to regular aesthetics of Modernist formalism. The work demonstrates a self-referential language through the use of fragmentation and collage, appropriating a Modernist vocabulary and mixing it with elements of craft and hobby aesthetics (which reflect Kalberg’s own process-oriented research and practice.) In Kalberg’s paintings (pseudo-portraits each depicting one individual that the artist calls “composite or alter-ego portraits”), he utilizes craft and low-grade materials which reference Modernist utopian ideologies in the ‘60s and ‘70s that promoted societal change through individual action.
The sculptural objects included in the exhibition operate as models or props for a Modernist formalism that has been disconnected from its ideological ideals and has turned into a clichéd stylistic expression. The artist says,
“The various pieces in the exhibition are assembled around a modular retail structure, which is motivated by Modernist design. The display structure acts as a platform or stage for the artworks to perform. The theatricality and starkness of the display sets up a dichotomy with the deliberately inexpensive materials used in the sculptural objects and paintings. All materials are readily available craft materials standing in for ‘proper sculptural’ materials. By creating a hybrid language of craft/design and commodity retail display, I set up a situation where the commodity art object that functions as the supplier for the audience’s desire for meaning, is at the same time resisting this very request. The objects on display are exposing a sense of ineffectiveness in their role as idolized art objects, due to the cheapness of materials and hand made characteristics of the sculptures and paintings. I am interested in creating works that could be described as being decorated with meaning by using easy-to-manipulate materials that seem to stand in for something other than what they are.”
Holger Kalberg was born in Germany and currently lives and works in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He graduated from Emily Carr University (BFA, 2001) and the Chelsea School of Art in London (MFA, 2007). Kalberg has been shortlisted for the RBC Painting Competition on three separate occasions, and served on the jury for the 2013 award. Kalberg has recently exhibited at the Vancouver Art Gallery, the University of Manitoba, the Belkin Satellite Gallery, and the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. His work is collected by the Royal Bank of Canada, the Vancouver Art Gallery, TD Bank, the Belkin Gallery, and numerous other public and private collections.