Stephen Friedman Gallery is pleased to present ‘Short Straw’, a body of new work by German painter, Cornelius Quabeck. This is the artist’s second solo exhibition at the gallery.
Quabeck combines process-led, intuitive painting with figurative compositions. His previous works have portrayed rock stars and fictional characters in energetic portraits that relay the artist’s painterly skill. In this vibrant new body of work Quabeck shifts the focus of his attention to the natural world, partly inspired by a recent residency in Marin County, California.
Neither abstract nor wholly figurative in style, these works combine explosive tonal planes with fractured depictions of flora and fauna. Overlapping layers of paint bleed into one another and saturate the surface of the canvas. A kaleidoscopic fusion of colour and tone ensues. From the depths of this chaotic mixture of turquoise blues and ocean-like greens, reds and yellows, the faint markings of tangible forms appear. Fragmented brush strokes suggest the outline of a fruit tree, the impression of a paintbrush, or the hint of a wild beast.
These fractured forms resonate in the foreground of the paintings. Beneath them remain the faint traces of older marks that have since been worked over. This process reveals a palimpsest; the foreground, background and layers in between manifest themselves simultaneously. Readily discernible in certain works is the motif of a Dodo’s head. Rising out of the paintings’ colourful midst, the portrait of this emblematic bird interrupts the figure-ground relationship, where extinction and reinvention coalesce.
Cornelius Quabeck (b. 1974, Germany) lives and works in Düsseldorf, Germany and has exhibited widely in Europe. Recent solo exhibitions include: C Monster, Taro Nasu, Tokyo (2009); Workout!, Martin van Zomeren, Amsterdam (2008); Capital C, Galerie Christian Nagel, Berlin (2008) and Critical Mess, Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York (2008). Recent group shows include: Malen ist Wahlen 1981-2009, Galerie Christian Nagel, Berlin (2009); Any kind of cruelty, Martin van Zomeren, Amsterdam (2009) and Self Portraits, James Fuentes, New York (2008).