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Cosima Hawemann Main Profile Image

Cosima Hawemann

Drawing, Painting • Born in Cologne / Germany • Studied at Academy of Fine Arts / Kunstakademie Düsseldorf / Germany

DOPPELGANGER and the corruption of memory

Cosima Hawemann’s exhibition Doppelganger is about recognition and the corruptibility of memory.
The German word ‘Doppelgänger’ means literally ‘double goer/walker’ and is used to describe a second person or ghostly apparition that looks identical to the subject. Hawemann, herself a German, has deliberately used the anglicised spelling “doppelganger” to align it to popular culture usage as her source images are drawn from...

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Cosima Hawemann’s exhibition Doppelganger is about recognition and the corruptibility of memory.
The German word ‘Doppelgänger’ means literally ‘double goer/walker’ and is used to describe a second person or ghostly apparition that looks identical to the subject. Hawemann, herself a German, has deliberately used the anglicised spelling “doppelganger” to align it to popular culture usage as her source images are drawn from screen idols and contemporary advertising.
Across the ages, there has been a superstitious belief that there must be personal or spiritual characteristics shared between two unrelated persons who look the same, whether they are alive during the same era, or exist centuries apart. We imbue the double with similar qualities to the original, and vice versa. This assumed link between the doubles has been a recurring theme in folklore and literature for centuries, then more recently in film, and is often a harbinger of misadventure or misfortune.
Hawemann, however, uses ‘doppelganger’ in a metaphoric sense rather than literal. Her doppelganger is our memory of who we believe a public figure is. She exploits the publicity images of famous stars from the early 20th century and contemporary advertising to demonstrate the vulnerabilities of our memory.
These photographs in their original state are carefully crafted illusions of glamour, privilege and mystique that have been selected for their sense of drama and pose. Hawemann is deliberate in not naming her subjects, except by using the initials of their real name (as opposed to their assumed name). One of Hawemann’s subjects, Marlene Dietrich, was a master of using lighting, makeup and costuming to dramatic effect; she also understood how important they were to preserving her iconic image as she aged. Hawemann is conscious of the teams of professionals who worked to create the public faces of these idols, who she describes as being unnahbar (unapproachable/unattainable). As viewers, we begin to take the fiction as fact and believe that the star’s projected life is connected to the real life.
By altering the light and shadows of the images with overpainting, Hawemann’s art reduces or negates the professionals’ illusions and in the process, she confuses our recognition of once familiar faces. The struggle to recall their features creates a feeling of unease: our memory is piqued, but we are denied the comfort of immediate identification and with that the narrative we attach to that idol.
Hawemann’s deliberate manipulation of an image’s lighting acts to flatten the subject’s features to the point where she is not immediately recognisable and her emotional state has become ambiguous. Is that face sad, fearful or vacant? The extreme bleaching of colour from the face - as would be the case under an intense spotlight – suggests a death mask. The real woman’s presence diminishes as her glamorous public doppelganger takes precedence.
In an age where social media has placed the image centre stage, there is an abundance of people pouting and come-hithering into their mobile phones. Through these narcissistic filter-processed selfies, the average mortal attempts to emulate the glamour and appeal of mega-icons and to present their lives as something it may not be. For some, these selfies become their own doppelganger that they hope will mask their own normal lives, but in the end, they only increase their sense of isolation. For the viewer it can be impossible to tell where fact and fiction merge; our orientation becomes confused as it becomes increasingly difficult to cross-check the narrative being spun.
The disquiet created by Hawemann’s altered glamour images highlights the importance we give to our memory of people in our daily lives. We piece together images and information with each interaction, from which we build our own picture of who we think they are. With such weight placed on the link between the infallibility of memory and our sense of Self, when our recall is interrupted we begin to question the reliability of our own memory and eventually, our own sanity. Rarely do we stop to consider that memory is a capricious beast and that some of what we take on face value as truth, has in fact been fabricated.
Ultimately, the face that is projected publicly may not reflect the private reality, and our ability to recognise someone is not infallible. Once the memory of a face is corrupted, so too is the narrative we hold of the subject.
Doppelganger was first exhibited in Germany in May at the KÖLNISCHES STADTMUSEUM Zündorfer Wehrturm, Cologne. This solid stone tower was built in the 12th century and is thought to be the oldest secular building in the region. The exhibition comprising 49 paintings, an artist book and a box of six small paper works was conceived to suit its intimate spaces. Complementing the ‘doppelganger’ portraits, the life-size painting of the chandelier contributes to the atmosphere and sense of luxury and the painting of the waterfall provides a ‘view’ to an imagined exterior where no window exists, while possibly alluding to the inner drama of the women’s real lives. Despite the confined scale of the rooms forcing the viewer into close proximity with the paintings, the subjects remain out of reach, forever unattainable.

copyright 2016 Karen Zadra. All rights reserved.



A FOREST. A solo exhibition by Cosima Hawemann

I think the tree is an element of regeneration which in itself is a concept of time. Joseph Beuys

The forest looms large in the German imagination to the extent that over the past 200 years, it has become synonymous with German national identity. In Australia, too, the bush defines how we see ourselves so it is therefore fitting to stage this exhibition A Forest by German artist, Cosima Hawemann to begin a conversation on the connection between nature and ourselves.
In Germany, the Romantics associated the forest with Nature, regeneration, strength and spirituality and these associations have largely endured. Some notable examples of artists, composers and writers across the ages who have been inspired by forests include Richard Wagner, Robert Schuman, Caspar David Friedrich, Wolfgang Goethe, Joseph Beuys, Anselm Kiefer and Gerhard Richter.
The Australian experience was slower to warm to unique qualities of the bush. Early Europeans viewed the bush with suspicion and fear; colonial artists applied European picturesque visual devices in order to tame the ‘unruly and ugly’ Australian landscape. It would take over one hundred years with the advent of the Heidelberg School that Australian European artists – and subsequently Australians – embraced the landscape of Australia and sense of pride through landscape developed.
In German fairy tales, the forest is a metaphor for personal transformation. Losing their way in a large, deep forest, the characters only emerge again once they have discovered their true purpose or have overcome some fateful temptation. Several of the old fables recorded by the Grimm Brothers took place in a forest, which was often cast as a foreboding or terrifying stage for the story. Similarly in Australia, the bush was seen as a vast and hostile place. Scores of explorers set off to discover inland seas and gold; many never returned. For Indigenous Australians, however, the bush was home and alive with ancestral spirit figures.
Today, one third of Germany is covered in forests, with half of all forests privately owned. So cherished is the ideal of forests that citizens have a right to enter any forest at any time, but in return for free access, they have reciprocal care responsibilities. The forest has also taken on great economic significance, with forestry turning over €170 billion per annum and providing 1.2 million jobs – 500,000 more than the automotive industry. In contrast, much of inland Australia is relatively uninhabited, the bush remains untouched and forestry has yet to find a commercial use for the gnarled desert trees that populate the outback.
For almost two decades, Hawemann’s fertile imagination has returned regularly to the forest. On the subject, she says:
I started working on the topic of the forest in 1998 when I walked into the woods with canvas, pigments, brushes and equipment like that to paint directly on site ... Germans are fascinated by forests, because that´s what Germany looked like before the Romans showed us how to build roads. Germany was one huge forest. I grew up with the fairy tales of the Grimm Brothers. As far as I know they were written down for adults, but everybody was reading these creepy stories to children. And then you can hear all those unknown voices or sounds of animals when you take a walk in the woods. And you can´t see very far.
For this exhibition, A Forest, Hawemann uses images taken during visits to the Eifel forest, and to Schlosspark at Museum Schloss Morsbroich where she was exhibiting – like Gerhard Richter before her. Hawemann inverts the colour photograph to create vibrant, psychedelic negative of reality that transform into a strange and exotic enchanted forest. The ghosts of ancient myths begin to emerge from the undergrowth and awaken our childhood memories of bedtime stories of forest alive with more than just trees and deer: fairies, goblins, witches, trolls, hermits, knights, castles, lone cottages, abandoned children, magic and danger.
“Early tomorrow morning, we’ll take the children into the deepest part of the forest. We’ll make a fire and give them a piece of bread, and then we’ll go to work and leave them there. They’ll never find their way back to the house and we’ll be rid of them”, said Hänsel and Gretel’s step-mother. (from Hänsel and Gretel by Brüder Grimm).
In Hawemann’s forest paintings on paper, the swirling other-worldly colours create a sense of disorientation that cuts the viewer off from the humdrum of daily life, allowing us to cross the threshold from the known into the unknown. Hawemann skilfully creates an atmosphere of wonder and fear, excitement and doom; our reaction will largely depend on our own state of mind. Look at those magnificent, glowing trees! What shall we find? How do we get out? Is that something lurking in the shadows? Or is it just our mind playing tricks on us?
The only tangible link to the real world is Hawemann’s painting on canvas “Untitled, 2017”. With the cleared foreground, it seems that this tree stands on the edge of the forest, a lone fence post is our anchor to civilisation. The tree’s solid trunk is strong and reassuring, but the leaves take on a water-like quality, as does the choppy white of the foreground, perhaps hinting at what lies beyond if we enter.
Being lured or drawn into the forest by something unseen in the hope of finding hidden riches, rewards, true love or enlightenment is a common theme in mythology, both in Germany and Australia. Passing through the heart of the forest or bush becomes a rite of passage, a metaphor for transcendence. The failure to pass through to the other side, or to remain forever lost, signifies a loss of courage or a weak character.
With A Forest series, Cosima Hawemann plays with the contradictory dynamics of the wonder invoked by being surrounded by tall, majestic trees, and our fear of being lost forever in dense, dark forest among dangerous animals and creatures that never completely reveal themselves. Interestingly, only one animal – a horse – appears in this series; its unexpected form against a soft pink and bronze background is almost Monty Pythonesque after the suggestive shadows and black skies of the other works.
Although the majority of the works themselves are small in size, the scale implied in the works is important and is used to dramatic effect. The photos which have been taken from a low angle looking up to the canopy act to dwarf the viewer: the upward thrust of the tree trunks tapering towards dark skies trigger in us a neurotic reversion to the vulnerable lost child we identified with as we listened in awe to those spooky fairy tales.
Whether in life or in art, there is no denying the power of a forest.

copyright 2017 Karen Zadra. All rights reserved.


Spiegelung, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 65 x 65 cm

Spiegelung, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 65 x 65 cm

2017, acrylic on print, 29 x 21 cm

2017, acrylic on print, 29 x 21 cm

2017, acrylic on print, 29 x 21 cm

2017, acrylic on print, 29 x 21 cm

2017, acrylic on print, 21 x 29 cm

2017, acrylic on print, 21 x 29 cm

2017, acrylic on print,21 x 29 cm

2017, acrylic on print,21 x 29 cm

Untitled, 2017, acrylic and silk screen on canvas, 120 x 90 cm

Untitled, 2017, acrylic and silk screen on canvas, 120 x 90 cm

A Forest, 2016, acrylic and silk screen on canvas, 120 x 90 cm

A Forest, 2016, acrylic and silk screen on canvas, 120 x 90 cm

From the series A Forest, 2016, acrylic on print, 29 x 21 cm

From the series A Forest, 2016, acrylic on print, 29 x 21 cm

From the series A Forest, 2017, acrylic on print, 21 x 29 cm

From the series A Forest, 2017, acrylic on print, 21 x 29 cm

From the series A Forest, 2017, acrylic on print, 29 x 21 cm

From the series A Forest, 2017, acrylic on print, 29 x 21 cm

From the series A Forest, 2017, acrylic on print, 29 x 21 cm

From the series A Forest, 2017, acrylic on print, 29 x 21 cm

From the series A Forest, 2017, acrylic on print, 29 x 21 cm

From the series A Forest, 2017, acrylic on print, 29 x 21 cm

From the series A Forest, 2017, acrylic on print, 29 x 21 cm

From the series A Forest, 2017, acrylic on print, 29 x 21 cm

4.18 - 4.48 (E.M.) 2016, acrylic on canvas,120 x 100 cm

4.18 - 4.48 (E.M.) 2016, acrylic on canvas,120 x 100 cm

Untitled, 2017, acrylic on print, 29 x 21 cm

Untitled, 2017, acrylic on print, 29 x 21 cm

Untitled (Nr.5), 2015/16, acrylic on canvas, 140 x 90 cm

Untitled (Nr.5), 2015/16, acrylic on canvas, 140 x 90 cm

untitled, 2016, acrylic on print, 29 x 21 cm

untitled, 2016, acrylic on print, 29 x 21 cm

untitled, 2016, acrylic on print, 29 x 21 cm

untitled, 2016, acrylic on print, 29 x 21 cm

untitled, 2016, acrylic on print, 29 x 21 cm

untitled, 2016, acrylic on print, 29 x 21 cm

MMD, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 120 x 100 cm

MMD, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 120 x 100 cm

MMD (Negativ), 2016, acrylic on canvas, 100 x 95 cm

MMD (Negativ), 2016, acrylic on canvas, 100 x 95 cm

N.O.N, 2016, acrylic on print, 29 x 21 cm

N.O.N, 2016, acrylic on print, 29 x 21 cm

Untitled, 2017, acrylic on print, 29 x 21 cm

Untitled, 2017, acrylic on print, 29 x 21 cm

Untitled, 2015, oil arylic and silkscreen on canvas 95 x 69 cm

Untitled, 2015, oil arylic and silkscreen on canvas 95 x 69 cm

From the series MMD, 2014 (Zebra), acrylic on print, 29 x 21cm

From the series MMD, 2014 (Zebra), acrylic on print, 29 x 21cm

Installation view Doppelganger, 2016, Kölnisches Stadtmuseum ZW, Cologne, Germany

Installation view Doppelganger, 2016, Kölnisches Stadtmuseum ZW, Cologne, Germany

Installation view IN A ROOM WITH NO WINDOW, 2016, van der Grinten Galerie, Cologne, Germany

Installation view IN A ROOM WITH NO WINDOW, 2016, van der Grinten Galerie, Cologne, Germany

From the series Shadowplay, 2015

From the series Shadowplay, 2015

What is it about your studio space that inspires you?

It used to be a pub and a horse remounting station with stables and is located right at the riverbank of the Rhine.

What sounds, scents and sights do you encounter while in your studio?

Music, radio (Gesprächsradio wie Deutschlandfunk), silence or sounds from outside.


EXHIBITIONS

SOLO

2017

A Forest, Gallery Zadra

2016

The Good Ghost, Julia Ritterskamp, Düsseldorf

IN A ROOM WITH NO WINDOW, van der Grinten Galerie, Cologne, Germany with Simon Schubert

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GROUP

2017

Wiesenstück, van der Grinten Galerie, Cologne

Forever Young, Schloss Willebadessen

Black Box, Faux Mouvement Centre d´Art Contemporain Metz

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GALLERIES

van der Grinten Galerie, Cologne, Germany | http://www.vandergrintengalerie.com/

Zadra Gallery | http://galeriezadra.com

EDUCATION (detailed)

1997 – 2004 Academy of Fine Arts / Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Germany under Prof. Jörg Immendorff, Prof. Helmut Federle and Prof. A.R. Penck, 2003 Masterclass / Meisterschülerin, 2004 Diploma / Akademiebrief


For more information and inquiries about this artist, please contact Artitious by emailing to artist@artitious.com

Purchase artworks by Cosima Hawemann

From the series A FOREST | Cosima Hawemann | available artwork
COSIMA HAWEMANN

From the series A FOREST

2017
Price on request

untitled | Cosima Hawemann | available artwork
COSIMA HAWEMANN

untitled

2016
Price on request

From the series A FOREST | Cosima Hawemann | available artwork
COSIMA HAWEMANN

From the series A FOREST

2016
Price on request

untitled | Cosima Hawemann | available artwork
COSIMA HAWEMANN

untitled

2017
Price on request

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