Clara S Rueprich
Waiting for Napoleon
10 September – 6 October 2010
Josh Lilley is delighted to announce the opening of the first solo exhibition in the UK by Leipzig-based installation and video artist Clara S Rueprich.
Waiting for Napoleon brings together four films that will be shown across both floors of the gallery. Through a deeply intuitive and personal approach to recording material, in these recent works Rueprich has fused art-historical narratives and painterly framing devices together with patient observation, with the aim of capturing elements of the human condition and its relationship to the natural world.
In focusing on the hidden threat that lies behind scenes of perceived calm and tranquility, Rueprich's films concentrate on three strategies that elicit an emotional response from the viewer. Fundamentally her practice is entwined with the notion of time passing, of a slow progression of imagery or events that goes hand in hand with the expectation upon the viewer to induce themselves within the realms of the artist's production. The tension or fine line that becomes apparent in Rueprich's work between the interplay of a staged scene and one with a completely unpredictable outcome is an equally important factor in her work. Lastly, the painterly composition of the shots in her films are intended to bring about similar responses to those one might have from paintings — little explosive or strained moments within contemplative or seductive scenarios.
Waiting for Napoleon depicts a compositionally characteristic scene reminiscent of historical romantic painting. A view through the window of a Scottish castle out onto the sea recalls the evocative landscapes of Caspar David Friedrich, whose romantic ideals were very much about being captivated and enthralled by the power of nature. The repetitive motions of the sea and clouds create a mesmeric, almost monotonous energy that is in tune with the anxious anticipation of an impending invasion. In a sense the work has an endless narrative of waiting and of time passing. While he never actually came, the setup of the castle is still tailored to that long-lost possibility. Condition M sees a mass of hounds physically spill out of their kennel into a concrete courtyard and crouch down before a line of meat. Shot from a single viewpoint, the film explores the close relationship between the keeper and his dogs, and in turn between man and nature in general. Allusions of captivity, enforced obedience and control are framed in such a powerful painterly way — the doorway, grey and green walls and floor, line of meat and urine — that they work to enhance the tension, energy and feared brutality of the episode and situation. Attempts on a Still-Life, related to 16th- and 17th-century still-life painting, brings together a composed and considered assemblage of objects under the unrehearsed and instinctive play of two small children, thus contrasting the familiar references of a 'dead' still-life with the ingenious liveliness of two modern-day baroque putto angels. This work is represented in the exhibition by a series of ten prints, photographed concurrently while the film was being recorded.
Clara S Rueprich (b. 1970 in Halle, Germany) lives and works in Leipzig. Recent group exhibitions include Modern Nature, K3, Zurich, 2009, and The Animal Gaze, Plymouth Arts Centre, Plymouth, UK, 2009. Rueprich was awarded the Video Art Award of Skulpturenmuseum Marl (Sonderpreis) in 2008 for her work Condition M, which was included in exhibitions at ZKMax in Munich, Germany and Galeria KOBRO, Lodz, Poland in 2009.