D / E


High Contrast
Danja Akulin

3 November 2023 – 6 January 2024, Opening: 2 November, 6-9 p.m.

Under the title “High Contrast”, Galerie Poll is presenting its second solo exhibition of the illustrator Danja Akulin – a gesture towards the way in which Akulin’s depictions of nature range from deep black to bright white, composed of a variety of black and grey tones.

Forests, fields, clouds, and water, portrayed at times from close up, at times from a distance, are rendered strikingly immediate by the artist’s virtuoso technique, which skilfully juxtaposes sharp and blurred sections, fine lines and rough strokes. Yet these scenes also exude a profound sense of tranquillity. The large-format compositions atmospherically capture light and shadow, stillness and movement.

Seascapes are a repeated motif. Some of the likenesses are nearly naturalistic, while others have dissolved into almost monochrome surfaces. The drawings of dense forests show trunks crowded together, the tree bark finely drawn with all its irregularities and grain; the result is almost photorealistic.

Still, Akulin composes his mostly untitled works from memory, not basing them on any photographs. The illustrator works with pencil and graphite on paper or with charcoal directly on the canvas. The large-format paper sheets are mounted on canvas in placed in stretcher frames, giving them a significant presence.

“Danja Akulin offers landscapes of states of mind, images of spiritual mood poised between silence and uncertainty, calm and disquiet”, writes art historian Olena Balun in her catalogue text for the 2022 monograph published by J. J. Heckenhauer Verlag.

Danja Akulin, born in St Petersburg in 1977, has lived and worked in Berlin since 2000. From 2000 to 2005, he completed a degree in fine arts under Prof. Georg Baselitz at the Berlin University of the Arts, and from 2005 to 2006 he was a master student with Prof. Daniel Richter. In 2017 he was recognized with the Canadian Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Award. His works have been exhibited in Germany, the United States, and Russia, most recently in the exhibition “The End of Painting: Karl Hagemeister and Painting Today” at the Bröhan Museum in Berlin. Akulin’s works are held in private and public collections, including the art collection of the German Bundestag.