Nina Jaenisch - Anne Berning.
painted concept

Anne Berning both challenges and mixes conflicting artistic positions in her work with fleet-footed irony, but without completely dissolving them in their polarity. Rather, an inner contradiction clearly reverberates within her work, as she analyses production, reproduction and reception conditions for art in terms of conceptual art, at the same time as evoking a great fascination for the painterly.


The wall works ?catholic? and ?protestant?, which are made up of many individual components, serve as an example for this contrast of associations. Recalling the denominational fronts of the historical iconoclastic controversy, colour field painting and conceptual art seem to be natural opposites: on one hand, an interpretation of art that takes pleasure in the sensuality of pure colour and clear forms; on the other hand, a programme which is dedicated to the idea ? and therefore increasingly to the word. That said, the distinct separating line proves not to be so clear at second sight. In its radiant colour sequences, ?catholic? also reveals content-oriented suggestions such as, for example, the implication of the rainbow as gay ensign. 'Protestant' on the contrary,  serves up its aphorisms on a delicate palette of bluish, reddish and greyish shades of white ? also sensuous, in a way. Painting and concept work against, as well as with one another.


At the beginning of the 1990s, Anne Berning began addressing the creative principles of artistic production(Kunst ? RE-Produktion, nicht Kunstproduktion), transposing fictional book spines, catalogue covers and postcards into painting along the lines of these principles. The enlargements ? here, they are the rule ? give the impression of a look through the magnifying glass, through which the associations between the ?mediafied? mediations clearly come to light. The choice of detail, colour, typography and layout reveals itself as a systematic method through which an image is created of the artist and his/her (vielleicht besser: his respective her ?) work.Paradoxically, this deconstruction in oil on canvas again displays a strong painterly quality that opens up its own parallel discourse on the balance of forms and colour contrasts. Anne Berning?s presentation of the rows of book spines in alphabetical order develops a similar paradoxical dynamism. Here, the administrative principle of libraries and archives, developed on the basis of strictly rational criteria, shows its aesthetic potential, i.e. (vielleicht besser: namely ?) to disregard all categories of art history such as chronology, style, form and genre. Since old and young masters of the most diverse schools suddenly present themselves to the viewer in closely clustered groups, the viewer can form a completely new set of interrelations between them ? beyond any principle of order.


Anne Berning also makes the wild and rampant growth of the Associative a topic of discussion in her work 'first chapter, last page' ? but transposes it into the situation in postmodern artistic production. Painted pictures and texts lie on the surface of a studio table like a bundle of loose paper slips: nude, portrait, interior, landscape, historic portrayal, realism and abstraction from the repertoire of art history, but also gathered from press-photography, film, literature and life. Together, they outline questions regarding the possibility and impossibility of painting after the ? frequently proclaimed ? end of painting. In this connection, formal crossovers, as well as crossovers in content, develop fluently, for instance when the blood-spattered tablecloth in a newspaper photograph congeals into an action painting, or a filmic close-up of a gaping mouth turns into a pop version of Munch?s ?Scream?, or when a colour palette appears as a ready-made in an informal style. Here, the layering of the quotations and colour samples beside and on top of one another stimulates a thought process that is mobile in different directions, at the same time as forming an abstract composition on the surface. The space for reflection is painted as a colour space; the colour space is conceived as a space for reflection.


In the exhibition 'fragments from an imaginary universe', AnneBerning playfully continued the artistic discourse on viewer-perspective and viewer-participation. For a long time, the role of the recipient as the final consummator of the work of art, increasingly under discussion since the 60s, tended to be associated above all with the development of new forms of performance art, installations and conceptual art. The supposed authority of classical panel painting, on the contrary, was often considered as the opposite discipline. It is not without humour that Anne Berning comments on this argumentation using the medium of painting: her current work is dedicated to precisely this meeting point between image and viewer. When, for instance, Anne Berning transfers two naked light-bulbs from a photograph of Francis Bacon's studio onto a reflective surface, the viewer suddenly encounters him- or herself in the same surface with the painted studio, as well as with the real-reflected space of reception. Elsewhere, the recipient, trained in the art of interactive communication, is faced with a silver bonbon by Felix Gonzales-Torres - once accessible to everyone ? as the painted icon of participation art. The disapproving, sidelong look of a female card-sharper, taken from Georges de la Tour, unexpectedly involves the viewer in shady complicity ? even centuries later.


In 1918, Marcel Duchamp interrupts his work on his ?Large Glass? and, on the insistence of his American collector Katherine S. Dreier, paints an oblong shaped picture for her library. In this commissioned work ? nonchalantly entitled 'Tu m'' ? Duchamp picks up on and satirises illusionist as well as abstract art in various different ways, for example by ?fastening? colour fields painted perspectively behind one another onto the canvas with a real screw. This was Duchamp?s last painting. After this, he only put his ideas into practice in a few ?retinal? media, or as ready-mades ? to avoid ?turpentine poisoning?, he claimed.Anne Berning?s reply, a disrespectful homage ? the mastermind of conceptual art would not have had any time left for respect either ? comes 82 art-history years later. Almost a retinal ready-made, the monochrome colour  fields from 'Tu m'' are painted on individual aluminium plates, hanging so as to overlap one another, and marked with a laconic 'Tu m'... aussi' on a white background. Here, colour field painting and conceptual art, otherwise considered as irreconcilable, come together in amiable irony.