Johannes Kahrsuntitled (man on purple panel with tan trousers)2021oil on canvas150,2 x 100 cm
Johannes Kahrsuntitled (man on purple panel with green trousers)2021oil on canvas150,2 x 100 cm
Johannes Kahrsuntitled (figure leaning on small cabinet)2022oil on canvas120 x 80 cm
Johannes Kahrsuntitled (woman looking back into camera)2022oil on canvas45 x 40 cm
Johannes Kahrsuntitled (figure in room)2023oil on canvas30 x 40 cm
Johannes Kahrsuntitled (woman descending stairs)2022oil on canvas170 x 75 cm
Johannes Kahrsuntitled (man with pink hat in orange landscape)2021oil on canvas80 x 45 cm
Johannes Kahrsuntitled (man in orange landscape)2021oil on canvas80 x 45 cm
Johannes Kahrsuntitled (figure gray green)2022oil on canvas190,2 x 90 cm
Johannes Kahrsuntitled (man with golden trousers)2022oil on canvas170,2 x 75,2 cm
Johannes Kahrsuntitled (figure orange green)2022oil on canvas170,1 x 75 cm
Johannes Kahrsuntitled (small figure with golden trousers)2022oil on canvas115 x 70 cm
Photo: Peter CoxCourtesy Zeno X Gallery, AntwerpInstallation view
Johannes Kahrs (b. 1965 in Bremen, lives and works in Berlin) presents his tenth solo exhibition at Zeno X Gallery. His paintings are based on images from magazines, newspapers, films or his own photographic material. When he paints, Kahrs liberates the image from its original context. In the process, he problematises the status and value of the image in contemporary visual culture.
In recent years, Kahrs has experimented more with the materiality of paint. He still starts out either from a photographic reality or a drawing but questions the narrative by approaching his source material in a new way. In doing so he combines different work methods: body parts are enlarged, imaginary details are added, parts of the canvas are blurred or the paint is stripped off. He allows more imagination into his working process and makes the materiality of the paint part of the subject. The title of the exhibition refers to the first two sentences of Arthur Rimbaud’s poem ‘Le Bateau Ivre’. The words describe an alienating feeling reminding Kahrs of his own creative process: starting to work without knowing where he will end up.
In this exhibition, the artist presents a striking number of portraits. Both unknown people and famous figures appear on the canvas. However, it is not the person represented that is the subject of the work, but rather the way the character is publicly portrayed. It is the facial expression, the body posture or the way of moving that intrigues Kahrs: as if they are part of a theatre play. The gaze is an important element in Kahrs’ work as it creates a tension between the image and the viewer, raising questions about the act of looking and sometimes turning the observer into a voyeur.
Johannes Kahrs has previously had solo exhibitions at FRAC Île-de-France, Paris (2016), Kunsthalle Nürnberg (2014), Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (2013), Art Centre PasquArt, Biel (2012), GAMeC, Bergamo (2007), Parasol Unit for Contemporary Art, London (2006), Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (2002), FRAC Pays de la Loire, Carquefou (2001), Kunstverein München (2001) and S.M.A.K., Ghent (2001).
The work of Johannes Kahrs is included in the public collections of Centre Pompidou, Paris, MOCA, Los Angeles, MoMA, New York, UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, S.M.A.K., Ghent, FRAC Auvergne, Clermont-Ferrand, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, SFMOMA, San Francisco, FRAC Picardie, Amiens, FRAC Pays de la Loire, Carquefou, Fundaçao de Serralves, Porto, and others.