Mona Broschár & Heidi Ukkonen: Only Fans

25. Apr '2425. May '24
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Open: Wednesday—Saturday, 14:00—18:00
By Appointment

Weserstr. 56
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Broschár does Ukkonen, and Ukkonen does Broschár. For this unusual joint exhibition two painters are inspired by, influenced by, steal, borrow, copy, reinterpret, recreate, appropriate and pay homage to each other’s work. While remaining true to their own approach in terms of artistic process, techniques and style, the motif and composition reference existing works by the other. To rule out any influence, the paintings selected will remain secret until the opening.

Mona Broschár and Heidi Ukkonen knew of each other long before their first encounter in Paris in 2021. Both artists had been admiring their respective works from afar, following each other’s social media accounts. The title Only Fans is nod to this virtual courtship, a voyeuristic exchange that takes place without any physical contact. But the reference also applies to the reciprocal infusement – each artist taking possession of a piece of the other, deepening their connection and understanding of each other in the process.

Despite the obvious differences, there is a unifying quality to their work. Firstly, the humor: a love of the absurd, the joy of the clashing the seemingly incompatible. Then the almost intrusive materiality of things, the way their surfaces thrust outwards, imposing themselves on the observer. Lastly, a predilection for the abysses of consumer culture, the seductiveness of objects – candy-coloured, female-coded and fashionable. Maybe it is best described as a vibe, rather than an aesthetic: a dreamy abundance, that appears quirky and girlish in one moment, and monstrous and obscene in the next.

Like in any good relationship, both artists have characteristics the other is lacking. Mona Broschár, who studied painting and printmaking at the Academy of Visual Arts in Leipzig and the Camberwell College of Arts in London, works thoughtfully and precise. Each canvas must be perfectly measured, her compositions are painstakingly created with layers upon layers of oil-paint, leaving little room for alterations or last-minute decisions. Broschár’s painting appear corporeal, almost like sculptures, while Ukkonen’s work can be compared to the expressionism of Edvard Munch. Her process is impulsive and immediate. She prefers fast-drying acrylic paint, but also works with egg tempera and pigments. Originally born in Sweden, Ukkonen has since relocated to Antwerp, where she studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Art. The city’s deep connection to the glamorous world of high fashion shines through in the fantastic garments of her figures.

In the end, Broschár’s lush still life’s and Ukkonen’s elegant daydreamers represent two sides of the same coin: chaos and order as escape strategies in a disturbing present. The question of the right measure arises in many forms. Do the glittering offerings of consumer culture give cause for joy or rather despair? When will we have had enough? For the artists, the challenge lies in making the other’s work distinctly their own, while neither compromising their unique vision, nor erasing its origins.

Text by Diana Weis.

Emil Urbanek: Some flowers, some stems

25. Apr '2427. May '24
Open Hours and Location:
Open: Wednesday—Saturday, 14:00—18:00

Weserstr. 46
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We find ourselves in a world that builds the perception of its realities around an assumed set of boundaries and lines. We are constantly reminded to consider these lines, walk along these lines, accept not to overstep these lines. Yet, we frequently find ourselves compelled to resist them.

Emil Urbanek’s work invites us to play with the lines of containment, offering an imaginative worlding where we seek the intimate corners of existence. Every subject and form allows us to explore powerful attachments. The scenes they show us are soaked with a strange calmness. Vases and forms, shoulders and arms, pears and plants intertwine, creating a world of shifting perspectives that play with the sharpness of surface.

In their second solo exhibition at Weserhalle, Urbanek opens portals to a realm where forms and ideas converge in unexpected ways. The vase serves as a reliable form that provides support to figures, flowers and subjects. At the same time, it plays with the canvas’ inherent lines, inviting our imagination to weave scenes beyond. The flowers, sometimes faintly outlined and barely perceptible, are the only elements that extend the contours of the vase. It is not always clear what surrounds the scene. Color gradients may suggest water. Similar to the photographic lens, the vase holds a delicate balance between what is seen and what remains hidden. Fragile is not the scene, but what we allow ourselves to see, for what we see can easily disappear.

In one painting that stands out, the vase is empty. Depicted through a mere shift in gradient it is a reminder for absence. An absence that holds space for contemplation upon the fleeting nature of moments. Perhaps this confrontation with a void also carries a fear of the potential impermanence of plants. The pears, a recurring element in Urbanek’s work, impart trust and reliability on the other hand. It is not clear whether we are invited to take a bite – perhaps in the past, perhaps in the future, perhaps not yet. As for now, they simply lie there, together, sometimes with twisted and bizarre shapes, nestling against each other, reflecting in glossy surfaces. It is an invitation to allow closeness. An invitation to accept affection, from oneself and one’s surrounding. 

In another painting we see pears collected in a glass within glass. In their interplay with the figure, forms and plants, the pears unfold napping as an almost curated practice. This interplay transforms into a mystical threshold between the sharp and gentle contours of memories. As a person at rest gently embraces the jar of collected pears, the plants too, momentarily release into a posture of ease, napping on the rim of the vase: who is sleeping; who is holding whom while asleep; who wakes up first?

Being-with these paintings, we are not simply spectators, amused by the depiction of a small world. We are part of a collectively imagined whole, emerging from the vibrant interplay of many small granulations. A confrontation with forms of affection and blur, material softness, and glassy sharpening pushes our boundaries beyond a detached and closed self, towards curiosity for the discovery of a concealed and yet, spreading place. Does this evoke a feeling of overwhelm? Put your head down. Take a nap.

Text by Lilian Mauthofer

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