German Dirk Skreber paints works at the intersection of cultural subsets, depicting moments of intense violence and figures abstracted from the pages of science-fiction. Revisiting the immediacy of violence and collision of forces. Currently, the artist is exhibiting a selection of new works at Petzel Gallery in Chelsea, titled pain(t)ology and other trials.
Skreber works at the various phases and moments of societal, political and social violence. In one work, a drone aircraft, loaded with missle, taxis across the runway, potentially in the midst of departure on a bombing run. In other, the artist paints the aftermath of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, depicting fragments of metal, cloth and insulation in disarray in the wake of the massive explosion.
It’s an interesting variation in approach for an artist who so often paints the moment of collision (car crashes, explosions, etc.). The works on view seem a continuation of Skreber’s well-defined approach, delving deeper into the physical detritus of the event, and the myriad forces racing towards the cataclismic moment. The drone is a vehicle of destruction, its sleek lines and form a vector pointed towards the moment of impact.
A certain air of surreality also infuses the work. Despite the realism afforded to the works on view, Skreber’s choice of such powerfully evocative moments almost demands a visible narrative to put it into an easily grasped narrative. The force of the canvas recreates the sense of disbelief that often trails a catastrophic event, forcing a second look to reassure the viewer of its presence.
Skreber is also exhibiting PRC, a rigorous reconstruction of the holding cell used during the court case for Russian punk collective Pussy Riot. Underlining the dissonances between globally accessible information and autocratic rule, Skreber also offers an interesting take on the nature of spectacle in the very same information flows. Despite its ominous presence, visitors at the opening felt free to walk in and out of the space, photographing themselves inside the cage. Turning a symbol of oppression into a mimetic framework, Skreber’s work also illustrates the subjective interpretation of these same fragments of discrete information.
Exploring new facets of his well-defined aesthetic language, pain(t)ology and other trials signals Skreber’s increasingly diverse creative output, and his ongoing use of powerful, violent signals to plumb the depths that define the space between reality and fiction. His show is on view until March 30th.