Heike Negenborn & Andreas Silbermann

1 November 2019 – 11 January 2020

Under the title “Landscapes”, Galerie Poll is showing paintings and drawings by Heike Negenborn (*1964) and Andreas Silbermann (*1964) for the first time.

“Net-Scapes” is what Heike Negenborn has named her most recent works, for which she was awarded the 2018 Palatinate Prize for Fine Arts in the category of painting. Using a grid and the laws of central perspective, she constructs wide plains and gentle mountain ranges, with massive cloud formations shaped by the whims of wind and weather towering above the land. The landscape appears to have been measured out precisely and objectively. Yet the artist in fact chooses her point of view subjectively, following her own preferences while working en plein air, in nature. Clearly visible remnants of the geometric grid – similar to the circuitry of computer circuit boards – nevertheless remind us that what is being depicted here are human-made, artificial cultural landscapes, such as vineyards. Emphasising this modern reshaping of the land by civilisation, Negenborn reduces the strong colour palette of her previous works to the abstraction of black and white and of greys made by mixing the two.

Above the horizon, which is usually quite low, ever-changing cloud formations emerge. With this motif, Negenborn follows on from John Ruskin, who observed in 1840 that the old and modern landscape painting differ primarily in their depiction of clouds. As member of the Cloud Appreciation Society, Negenborn collects cloud photographs in her own archive and then combines images she selects for aesthetic features with her own “shots” of southern French or southern Spanish landscapes, composed along lines of central perspective This way of working means that photography and painting, reality and illusion, are intermeshed to such an extent that the tourist’s hasty gaze is entirely foreclosed. With her “Net-Scapes”, Heike Negenborn questions the deceptive certainty of digital media and reclaims what the German musician, writer, and photographer Jürgen von der Wense (1894–1966) called for after the years he spent wandering through Germany: “Every view, like every painting, is full of riddles. For every picture of the landscape, we must first find the solution.”

Andreas Silbermann also bases his landscapes on photographs. When places pique his interest, he captures them on camera so that he can have them ready, often years later, to be transferred into paintings. The Galerie Poll is showing Italian landscapes from 2016 to 2019. These are landscapes that have been reshaped by everyday life, by agriculture, farms, and homes, or by other interventions. The artist calls them “strange places”. Often the paintings depict topographical constellations and architectures which would hardly catch the eye of a traveller passing through, which one might dismiss as “forlorn” or “bleak”.

The landscape passing by the car and train window becomes a motif in the same way as the night sky over a lonely country road. In his oil paintings on mostly small-format wooden panels, Silbermann succeeds in reproducing moods and light through a play of colours, allowing the viewer to be attracted by images of a reality that would hardly merit a second glance in everyday life. In order to emphasise that his works are in no way meant as illusions, or as attempts to aestheticise an ideal landscape, Silbermann initially titled them after exact geodata of his sites.

Heike Negenborn, born in 1964 in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, studied painting, design, and ceramics at Washington College, in Chestertown, Maryland, USA, and painting and printmaking with Prof. Peter Lörincz at the Mainz Academy of Fine Art (Akademie für Bildende Künste Mainz). She lives and works in Windesheim. Andreas Silbermann, born in 1964 in Wilhelmshaven, studied painting at the Braunschweig University of Art (Hochschule für Bildende Künste Braunschweig) with Prof. Hermann Albert. He lives and works in Berlin.