MAX FREUND
Blümchen
January 13 —
March 10, 2023


LOCATION
RAVNIKAR GALLERY
Vošnjakova ulica 4
1000 Ljubljana
CURATOR
Piera Ravnikar

TEXT
Eva Simonič
PHOTOGRAPHER
Mario Zupanov

︎︎︎STATEMENT
            Max Freund's visual world is a distinctive exploration of the creative process itself. He is interested in all the components of the entire spectrum of artistic creation, particularly the work and the material. He gains something from every single creative process, regardless of whether or not it has "resolved" into a final result, i.e. a work of art: the process of production (also physical) is a constitutive factor of paramount importance. The repetition of a form or colour, specific compositions from pre-existing artworks, the repetitive reworking of these details into new works, and the cutting and reassembling of pieces of canvas and textiles, are emblematic of his practice, which can be characterised as a dialogue between the abstract and the figurative. The rhythm of both dictates the narrative and offers multiple points of view – literally and figuratively – simultaneously. Freund's paintings maintain the dualism of zooming in and zooming out; as one approaches the works, the depictions dissolve and the physical matter itself is of the essence. All the works are captured moments that challenge the resonance between the viewer and the outside world.

            Freund is first and foremost a painter, but he often ignores the boundaries of this field and favours the material. He is interested in the autonomy of the material, its behaviour and its "receptivity" to the interventions the artist makes on it. Collecting materials from books, magazines, photographs, scraps of fabric and everyday objects is crucial; small, seemingly insignificant details are then sorted into the artist's private archive, which serves as a system of cross-referencing. The collected images are semiotically understood as pictograms of a larger system of signs that transcends the linguistic and cultural confines of the social backgrounds we come from, testing the viewer's knowledge of the references of music, pop culture, wordplay, fiction, media, etc. In this way, the artist creates a network of visual links, connections, clues, intermingled ideas, metaphors, symbols and feelings drawn from the host of images of the contemporary globalised world, which in turn establish a new sign system.

            The current exhibition, Blümchen, is also a complex, ironic interplay of references. The starting point is a single word, a diminutive for flowers. Without analysis, the flowers seem sweet, simple and ordinary, a universal aesthetic symbol of naive and natural beauty, but Freund quickly turns things upside down: the diminutive carries undertones in certain German compound words (Blümchenkaffee, Blümchensex, Mauerblümchen) with very specific meanings often linked to very specific social contexts, which, on the one hand, are firmly embedded in Austrian and German culture, and on the other, transcend these cultural frameworks. Blümchen are not only little flowers, they also evoke Blümchen, the pop and Eurodance singer (from the 1990s), Blümchen Blau, the Austrian new wave band (from the 1980s), Benjamin Blümchen, the anthropomorphic elephant (an entertainment phenomenon since the 1970s). Some references remain enigmatic for those from outside the German-speaking world, while the understanding of others depends on other factors, such as the age of the viewer, his knowledge of art history or his involvement in internet culture. Despite the common recognisability of this sign, Freund shows that even without any knowledge, a connection is inevitable, perhaps precisely because of its universality, which conceals hundreds of layers of established meanings, cues and associations. Thus, flowers signify the triviality of the still life genre in art history, the moment of life and death, the normalised aesthetic of domesticity when taken from the natural environment and brought into the home, and in contrast, wild and untamed nature, widely identifiable Van Gogh's sunflowers, now exploited and available in every museum gift shop, the cliché and sarcasm in flower painting, decorativeness and pattern, desire and alienation, polite gesture and peace all at once.

︎︎︎ABOUT THE ARTIST

            Max Freund (1992) is a painter and printmaker who lives and works in Vienna, Austria. After graduating from the University of Applied Arts in Vienna in 2017, he has participated in various international solo and group exhibitions at galleries and institutions such as Elektrohalle Rhomberg, g/art/en contemporary exhibition space, gr_und Berlin, WUK Vienna, The Printspace London, Modern Art Museum Shanghai, Vienna Contemporary Art Fair, Westergasfabriek Amsterdam and many others. In addition to participating in international residency programmes, Freund is also part of the micro-publishing house and artist collective Soybot, which focuses on the production of artist zines and editions with an emphasis on risograph printing.


︎︎︎MAX FREUND: Blümchen

            Vizualni svet Maxa Freunda je svojevrstna raziskava ustvarjalnega procesa samega. Pri tem ga zanima vsaka možna komponenta celotnega spektra vizualnega ustvarjanja, predvsem delo in material. Iz vsakega posamičnega ustvarjalnega procesa, naj se je ta »zaključil« v končnem rezultatu, torej umetniškem delu, ali ne, nekaj pridobi: proces (tudi fizičnega) dela je konstitutivni faktor izjemnega pomena. Ponavljanje neke forme, barve, specifičnih kompozicij iz že obstoječih umetniških del, ponavljajoča se predelava teh podrobnosti v nova dela, rezanje in ponovno sestavljanje kosov platna in tekstila so značilni za njegovo prakso, ki jo lahko opišemo kot dialog med abstrakcijo in figuro. Ritem obeh narekuje pripoved in hkrati ponuja več vidikov - dobesedno in figurativno. Freundove slike vzdržujejo dualizem približevanja in oddaljevanja; če se delom približamo, se upodobitve razrešijo, bistvo pa je sama fizična materija. Vsa dela so ujeti trenutki, ki izzivajo resonanco med gledalcem in zunanjim svetom.

            Freund je v prvi vrsti slikar, a zamejitve tega polja pogosto ignorira, saj daje prednost materialu. Zanima ga avtonomija materiala, njegovo obnašanje in dovzetnost za umetnikove posege vanj. Zbiranje materialov iz knjig, revij, fotografij, odpadnega blaga in vsakdanjih predmetov, je ključno; majhni, na videz nepomembni detajli, so nato sortirani v umetnikov zasebni arhiv, ki mu služi kot sistem križnih referenc. Zbrane podobe semiotsko razume kot piktograme večjega znakovnega sistema, ki presegajo jezikovne in kulturne zamejitve družbenih ozadij, iz katerih izhajamo, s tem pa preizkuša gledalčevo poznavanje referenc glasbe, pop kulture, besednih iger, fikcije, medijev itd. S tem umetnik ustvarja mrežo vizualnih povezav, namigov, pomešanih idej, metafor, simbolov in občutkov, izvzetih iz imaginarija podob sodobnega globaliziranega sveta, ki nato vzpostavljajo svojevrsten nov znakovni sistem.

            Tudi pričujoča razstava, Blümchen, je kompleksen, ironičen preplet referenc. Izhodiščna točka je ena sama beseda, pomanjševalnica za rože. Rožice brez analize se zdijo prisrčne, preproste in običajne, univerzalen estetski simbol naivne in naravne lepote, a Freund stvari hitro obrne na glavo: pomanjševalnica nosi podtone v nekaterih nemških sestavljenih besedah (Blümchenkaffee, Blümchensex, Mauerblümchen) s specifičnimi pomeni, pogosto povezanimi s specifičnimi družbenimi konteksti, ki so po eni strani tesno zasidrani v avstrijsko in nemško kulturo, po drugi pa presegajo te kulturne okvire. Blümchen niso le rožice, ampak v spomin prikličejo tudi Blümchen, pop in eurodance pevko (iz 90. let), Blümchen Blau, avstrijsko new wave skupino (iz 80. let) ter Benjamina Blümchena, antropomorfnega slona (fenomen razvedrilnega programa od 70. let). Nekatere reference ostajajo enigmatične za tiste, ki ne izhajajo iz nemško-govorečega okolja, razumevanje drugih bo odvisno od gledalčeve starosti, poznavanja zgodovine umetnosti ali vpetosti v internetno kulturo. Kljub splošni prepoznavnosti tega znaka, Freund dokazuje, da je tudi brez vsakršnega znanja povezava neizogibna, morda prav zaradi svoje univerzalnosti skriva na stotine plasti ustaljenih pomenov, namigov in asociacij. Cvetje tako simultano označuje trivialnost žanra tihožitja v zgodovini umetnosti, trenutek življenja in smrti, normalizirano estetiko domačnosti, ko je cvetje iztrgano iz naravnega okolja in vneseno v notranjost, in v nasprotju s tem divjo in neukročeno naravo, splošno prepoznavne Van Goghove sončnice, zdaj izkoriščene in dostopne v vsaki muzejski trgovini s spominki, kliše in sarkazem v slikanju cvetja, dekorativnost in vzorce, hrepenenje in odtujenost, vljudno gesto in mir vse naenkrat.

︎︎︎KRATKA BIOGRAFIJA

            Max Freund (1992) je slikar in grafik, ki živi in dela na Dunaju. Po diplomi na Univerzi za uporabne umetnosti na Dunaju leta 2017 je sodeloval na različnih mednarodnih samostojnih in skupinskih razstavah v galerijah in institucijah, kot so Elektrohalle Rhomberg, g/art/en contemporary exhibition space, gr_und Berlin, WUK Vienna, The Printspace London, Modern Art Museum Shanghai, Vienna Contemporary Art Fair, Westergasfabriek Amsterdam in številne druge. Poleg sodelovanja v mednarodnih rezidenčnih programih je Freund tudi del mikro založbe in umetniškega kolektiva Soybot, ki se ukvarja s produkcijo umetniških zinov in publikacij s poudarkom na risografskem tisku.             

︎︎︎INSTALLATION VIEWS







Max Freund

︎︎︎ AVAILABLE WORKS



Uniforme Exzentrik, 2021
Oil, oil stick and diverse fabrics on paper, canvas
Artist frame, 180 x 140 cm
4.500,00 + VAT


Downgrade, 2022
Oil on canvas
Artist frame, 180 x 140 cm
4.500,00 + VAT



Never saw a snake and a rat pair, 2022
Oil on canvas
250 x 180 cm
6.000,00 + VAT



Desert B, 2022
Oil, acrylic and studio dirt on canvas
Artist frame, 180 x 140 cm
4.500,00 + VAT




Benefactors, 2021
Oil, oil stick and diverse fabrics on paper, canvas
Artist frame, 180 x 140 cm
4.500,00 + VAT



Blümchen, 2022
Oil on canvas
Artist frame, 200 x 160 cm
5.000,00 + VAT 



Skulptur im Park 1 - 16, 2022
Oil, oil stick and fabric collage on wooden panel
32 x 25 cm
800,00 + VAT, per piece



Don’t sleep in my body, 2020
Oil on canvas
Artist frame, 103 x 83,5 cm
2.600,00 + VAT




Skulptur im Park 1 - 16, 2022
Oil, oil stick and fabric collage on wooden panel
32 x 25 cm
800,00 + VAT
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Skulptur im Park 1 - 16, 2022
Oil, oil stick and fabric collage on wooden panel
32 x 25 cm
800,00 + VAT


Skulptur im Park 1 - 16, 2022
Oil, oil stick and fabric collage on wooden panel
32 x 25 cm
800,00 + VAT


Skulptur im Park 1 - 16, 2022
Oil, oil stick and fabric collage on wooden panel
32 x 25 cm
800,00 + VAT


Skulptur im Park 1 - 16, 2022
Oil, oil stick and fabric collage on wooden panel
32 x 25 cm
800,00 + VAT


Skulptur im Park 1 - 16, 2022
Oil, oil stick and fabric collage on wooden panel
32 x 25 cm
800,00 + VAT


Skulptur im Park 1 - 16, 2022
Oil, oil stick and fabric collage on wooden panel
32 x 25 cm
800,00 + VAT


Skulptur im Park 1 - 16, 2022
Oil, oil stick and fabric collage on wooden panel
32 x 25 cm
800,00 + VAT



Specimen 6 revisited (landscape painter), 2022
Oil and paintbrush on paper, canvas
Artist frame, 121 x 86 cm
2.900,00 + VAT