Coinciding with his solo exhibition at the Saint Louis Art Museum, Matt Saunders is presenting his latest series of large-scale etchings in BORCH Gallery & Editions’ Berlin gallery. The exhibition marks the occasion of Galerienhaus Berlin’s 10th anniversary.
In the five large-scale prints of his new series Ratlos / Indomitable, Matt Saunders works with portraits of the movie character Leni Peickert, who appears in two films by German director Alexander Kluge: Die Artisten in der Zirkuskuppel: ratlos (1968) and Die unbezähmbare Leni Peickert (1970). Kluge’s films depict a young woman leading a business, a young artist trying to modernize a circus in a modern media environment.
Between the poles of the two titles—‘perplexed‘ and ‘dauntless‘—is a fierce intelligence and determination, and from today’s vantage the films offer a reflection on a historical moment of feminism, with allusions to both a split and a double consciousness. Saunders had already worked with a split portrait of Leni Peickert, executed from two copper plates, while working in BORCH’s Copenhagen print studio in 2015. In his new works, the artist chose a more monumental format, exchanging the split composition with a visual doubling, a hand-drawn overlapping of frames rendered in soap ground. The instability of the ground and time-based action of the acid led to images that are, in one way, stable combinations of multiple frames and in another way irreconcilable, suspended in flux.
Matt Saunders’ complex manipulations of seemingly random marks, executed in a number of different printing techniques, create a pictorial space in which the viewer is led from one viewpoint to another and back, like in a constantly changing labyrinth. The new prints bear witness to Saunders’ ability to navigate simultaneously in several complex spaces over a long period of time without losing focus. We are pulled into the works and enter their universe without noticing the effort it took to create them.
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