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Posted on April 23, 2016


Event Type:



Galerie Heike Strelow, Schwedlerstr. 1-5 / 60314 Frankfurt am Main


April 29, 2016 - June 25, 2016

Private View - April 29 - 7pm



Black is an ambivalent colour. Since centuries this achromatic tone carries diverse sentiments. Black is being associated with notions of power, elegance, modernity and formality, but at the same time with death, grief, evil and darkness. In our culture black is used in relation to words like objectiveness, reduction, rationality and concepts of asceticism, seclusion and sensuality.

It is exactly this inconsistency, the dialectic of the hated, yet at the same time deeply loved colour, which may explain the never-ending fascination of artists (but not only) with the black. Painters such as Velazquez, Rembrandt and Goya, were especially interested in the symbolism and the effect of the colour black. Their representations, developing from the tradition of chiaroscuro, emerged from the darkness. By using the expressive power of the colour, they were able to create images of great depth, which also had a large influential impact for many following generation of painters until today.

The inner urge to solve the mystery of Black persists for many artists up to this day.
Thereby following different strategies like abstraction, representation or oscillating between these two poles, totally denying or embracing narration, through conceptual or intuitive approach, they continue to explore within the dialectics of Black.

But it was the extension of boundaries characterizing the art of 20th century, that ultimately allowed the artists to trace the various conceptual aspects of Black in their works. Attention was particularly paid to the substantive meaning of black as well as to colour as material.

The works of pioneering artists such as Malevich, Matisse and Braque, Stella, Reinhard, and Rauschenberg or Warhol, Serra and Hirst reflect once again the enormous influence of colour black for the art of 20th century.

The influence of the Black in art continues unabated to this day. Especially in recent years, the two gallery owners Zavier Ellis and Heike Strelow have observed a great number of artists around them who have chosen to work with a limited colour pallet or exclusively with black. The formal use of the colour black is not the only connection between the works of these artists. Indeed various aspects from art history and tradition, combined with contemporary facets like the purist or the bursting, the prudery or the lustful, the visible and the absent, resonate again in their works, lending diversity to the contemporary "Black Paintings".

This exhibition is ultimately a curatorial response to current artistic positions and practices and encompasses more than 30 works of contemporary artists and diverse approaches in their search of the secret of Black.