Yìng sheng (reaction, echo) Solo exhibition at Oechsner Galerie Nuremberg (Nov 10 – Dec 12, 2018)
The exhibition title yìng shēng is comprised of two Chinese characters: 应 (yìng) means "answer" and is pronouncedexactly like the character 映, which can be translated as "reflect" or "mirror”; 声 (shēng) expands the horizon of meaning to include the quality of a reverberating echo. Just as a sound repeats itself within an echo, individual pictorial elements or entire motifs appear repeatedly in Thilo Westermann's current exhibition. For example, the motif of an orchid in Westermann’s black and white reverse glass painting, which was then enlarged six-fold and printed, was copied from the work of the Chinese master of ink painting Ma Lin (circa 1180 – after 1256), which Westermann found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The same orchid motif is also in two of Westermann’s photographic works. The first is a photograph of his orchid painting displayed at the Metropolitan Museum; the second photograph depicts the same painting in a business conference room in Nuremberg.
In another group of pictures, one of Westermann's bamboo paintings is echoed in its own unique copy print as well as in a photographic work. The photographic work presents the original painting, albeit in a modified way. Westermann digitally extended the bamboo tube up and down to match the three bamboo sticks he found in a private collection in New York, where the black and white bamboo motif is now visible in his photography. Next to the location and the title of the bamboo painting is also the year of origin – 2015, the year in which the photographic material was collected in New York.However, the bamboo painting itself was not created until 2016 and as such could not have existed prior to the photographs being taken (a subtle hint that Westermann's photographic work is not motivated by still lives, which are assembled and then photographed or "staged photography"). Instead, he presents the viewer with ingenious photomontages, which were put together piece by piece in a lengthy process. Westermann first documented the found environment (such as the private collection in New York) in minute detail in a series of close-up photographs. Back in the studio, he then digitally composed these photographic "impressions" with the aid of a scan, as was the case with the aforementioned bamboo painting, to a large-format photo tableau. The result is a picture that looks like a photograph, but in the true sense of the word can also be attributed to digital painting.
Whereas the large-format unique prints turn the focus to the craft and the creative process of the small reverse glass paintings themselves – the motifs are etched out dot by dot from the blackened backside of glass panes – Westermann's photographic works pose the question of place or context in which the art work appears. Depending on the chosen environment, Westermann's motifs enter into new connections, which can be deciphered if they are read accurately andwhich – as in the case of the orchid motif after Ma Lin – also raise the question of the use of intercultural mechanisms ofappropriation throughout time.
According to the Chinese tradition of copying repetition, a copy of a work always shows the handwriting and personality of the copyist. Similarly, the repetitions in Westermann's exhibition allow different points of view and open up a social network in which individual motifs react to each other and resonate within each other.
In addition to studying as a master student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Nuremberg, Westermann studied Chinese ink painting and Asian Art Studies in Singapore in 2012/13. In 2015, he was Artist-in-Residence at the Himalayas Art Museum in Shanghai and again spent several months in China in 2017 as Residency Scholar of the Goethe Institute and Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany.
(Text by Oechsner Galerie, 2018)
November 10, 2018 – December 12, 2018
Opening: Saturday, November 10, 7 pm