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Jan Meier, Christoph Westermeier, Installation view, Bonner Kunstverein, 2011. Photo: Simon Vogel

Peter Mertes Stipendium 2010: Jan Meier, Christoph Westermeier

For the grant that has since 1985 been annually awarded by the Peter Mertes Wine Cellar in Bernkastel-Cues, the 2010 jury (Prof. Anne-Marie Bonnet, Prof. Ursula Frohne, Silke Schatz, Stephan Strsembski) had nominated following artists: Jan Meier (*1978 in Leonberg, lives in Cologne and Berlin) and Christoph Westermeier (*1984 in Cologne, lives in Düsseldorf). The work of both artists is linked by a reflective dealing with art history and theory as well as an individual, analytical engagement with the media of photography and painting. A catalogue will be published on occasion of the exhibition.

Jan Meier’s works allude to a variety of sources such as Informel and action painting, Pop Art and pattern painting. The classical way of painting with acrylic, oil and water color is repeatedly disrupted, on the one hand, by everyday objects that can be personal ones or found ones, such as shells, colored beer mats or coins, on the other by an abstract, naïve-like treatment of color and form. Starting out with drawings, delicate series of motifs emergeon paintings that disclose the artist’s working process. Along with large-scale canvases in Tachist style with expansive bright specks of color from ebbing structures, smaller works on paper and collages are on view in which objets trouvés form almost incidentally the characteristic features of a face or an animal. A playful lightness unites all the works, whose range and quality is not least of all based on the fine oscillation between figuration and abstraction, melancholy and kitsch, banality and airiness. The subjective memory of a journey to Amalfi at the beginning of the grant is the starting point for this new series that is being presented for the first time at the Bonner Kunstverein.

In a time of picture overkill, of cell phone cameras and communication technologies, an era in which photography has become an integral part of the art world, we are more than ever flooded with images. For Christoph Westermeier—a graduate of the Academy in Düsseldorf under Christopher Williams and Rita McBride—the appropriation of images all around us is the starting point for his artistic production. He consistently photographs pictures and texts from nonfiction books, advertisements and magazines, artworks in museums or private locations, with a simple digital or cell-phone camera. Technical reproduction—as Walter Benjamin had theorized in his time—is able to highlight many a feature of the “original” via techniques such as enlarging or cropping, thus extricating it from its context. Not only advertising photography utilizes this knowledge for its strategic objectives but also Westermeier, who, by combining different images and contents, creates a subjective view of our perceptual mechanisms.
The typography of a Metropolitan Museum bulletin from 1950 serves the artist as inspiration for his artist’s catalogue, which collages his own works and combines them with the series “Toscana Dreaming”. Reflection, playfulness and not least of all irony are characteristic of his works.