Three of my favourite German artists growing up, Ulrich Kretschmann, Michael Sellmann, and Angela Zohlen come together in this group show. In 2017, TNSG introduced the three Berlin artists to Sydney for the first time, showing them in Far and Wide, Nah und Fern, a two-person show between Kretschmann and Zohlen, and Found Along the Way, Sellmann’s first Australian solo show.
Angela Zohlen and Ulrich Kretschmann, artistic colleagues and life partners, work in entirely different styles and with wholly separate, yet related focuses. Displaying the two artists aside each other, the first noticeable difference is scope. While Zohlen explores nature up close, focusing on texture and horticultural shapes reminiscent of Karl Bloßfeld photographs, Kretschmann widens his gaze, painting brilliant panoramic landscapes. Their work is essentially abstract, painted more from memory and mind than actual source material, focusing more on atmosphere than realism. “We both work in opposite ends of Berlin. We would leave for our respective studios in the morning and return home late at night to talk about the work we did that day, exchanging ideas, showing each other images and giving updates on our process”, Kretschmann said.
Michael Sellmann is not a painter, nor is he a sculptor, a ceramicist, an installation or assemblage artist. He is first and foremost an aesthete, gently nudging elements into beauty with the help of time, environment and chance. Though his practice is ever changing, his process never does: minimal intervention. Unlike most artists, Sellmann searches for art outside of himself, creating it by curating his own reality. The artist has been an elusive but ever present figure in Germany’s art world since the early eighties, when he was picked to be one of several artists (including, among others, Joseph Beuys, Allan Kaprow, Noriyuki Haraguchi, and Richard Serra) in a group show called ‘Schwarz’ (‘Black’) at the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf.
This show includes works that have never been shown before, including Sellmann’s three Samurai ink drawings from 1990. Ink drawings of this kind have long been a staple of Sellmann’s practice, though they have rarely, if ever, been shown. Created with only a few swift brushstrokes, they serve more as abstract studies of space and tension than figuration.
The uniting factor in the works in this show is a degree of restraint and subtlety. All three artists know exactly how to do just enough, creating fields of allusion amongst more pronounced spaces. TNSG is incredibly proud to present the magical works of Berlin Subtlelists Ulrich Kretschmann, Michael Sellmann, and Angela Zohlen.
written and curated by Sam Ramsden