21 April – 20 May 2006
‘The daily practice of painting, in Ackermann’s case, amounts to nothing less than an attempt to redefine the discipline itself, not as a stable given, but as a fluid, self-differing medium constantly branching out into new territories.’ Daniel Birnbaum
Franz Ackermann makes large-scale dynamic installations that are built up from individual components comprising paintings, drawings, photographs, wall drawings and sculptural, billboard-like constructions. Ackermann uses the gallery space as an extension of his studio, the site where the installation is finally constructed and finished. Colourful and architectural, his abstract works function as elements within a greater system – an imaginary mental topography that explores notions of travel, urbanism and globalisation, connecting the specifics of disparate locales. His installations map real and imaginary places, buildings and urban layouts, but are as much about the fantasy of escape as they are political gestures in an ever-shifting world.
Ackermann’s work frequently deals with the double side of tourism – the glamour, speed and consumption of international travel but also the detritus, architectural scarring and garbage that it leaves behind. His paintings deal with illusionary points of view, bringing together details from far away places to ones that are closer to home, seeing the city as a lens through which other places are represented. Entitled ‘Home, home again’ after a Pink Floyd song, this exhibition brought together a series of large-scale paintings, numerous drawings and floor- and wall-based sculptures that focus on London as their conceptual point of departure. For the first time, Ackermann presented a large-scale drawing that is a metaphorical link between his ongoing mental map series – watercolours made while on the move in hotels around the world – and his paintings, constructed from memory in the studio.
In his show at White Cube Ackerman examined the relationship between tourism and terrorism – the spectre of international travel – as well as the way that cities are constantly in flux, in the case of London, looking towards the Olympic games in 2012 that will irrefutably change the layout of our existing city. Always site-specific, his work comments on the architecture of the space it inhabits whilst inviting the viewer to enter its proposed geographical space. Ackermann’s paintings fuse various perspectives in one image, from distant to close up or simultaneously from above and below creating an ungrounded, all-over terrain that recalls the energy of Italian Futurist paintings or the visual delirium and alienation that one experiences in new cities. The work is predicated on the roving eye of the artist, the travelling flâneur, which can be traced from Baudelaire to the ubiquitous contemporary tourist.