Galerie Scharmann & Laskowski, Köln
Suspended on a rod fixed to the ceiling of the gallery space is a row of canvas coats tailored by the artist. The sewing pattern of these coats is based on an original sewing pattern for men’s coats, designed by Vladimir Tatlin in 1922.
Maison Tatlin, 2015, Galerie Scharmann & Laskowski, Köln
In a variety of media including painting, film, photography, and sculpture the artist examines the key figures of the male-dominated history of art in the twentieth century particularly those in the movements ranging from Russian Constructivism through Dadaism to Minimalism. In diverse settings she questions the roots of contemporary art production between retrospection and utopia within the coordinates of systems of time and art. Hopf’s gestures alternate between exposure and concealment revealing traces of predecessors then allowing them to vanish again. Works by Alexander Rodchenko, Varvara Stepanova, Francis Picabia, and Frank Stella resonate in her serial compositions.
Suspended on a rod fixed to the ceiling of the gallery space is a row of canvas coats tailored by the artist. The sewing pattern of these coats is based on an original sewing pattern for men’s coats, designed by Vladimir Tatlin in 1922. The Constructivist design reflects the atmosphere of departure of the Russian avant-garde. Tatlin’s coat design, reconstructed for this exhibition, never went into production at the time because of material shortages.
With the appropriation of the sewing pattern and with the first serial production of the design, Alexandra Hopf takes charge of a forgotten object of art history, a coat, representing a period in which Russian artists were relinquishing their individual artistic production in favor of a Constructivist language of form developed within a collective with the intention of transforming it into a new production design.
In their dense arrangement the coats appear like sculpture. The coat forms are juxtaposed with minimalist paintings like actors on a stage set. Compared with the look and feel of the coats’ untreated raw canvas the paintings have a finely structured material texture; however, the artist does not use canvas or other fabrics as a support material. Through treatment of the painting surfaces i.e. acrylic plates with layers applied by oil crayons the upper layer of which is scraped away with a fine metal stylus, an impression of weaving comes into being, an individual materiality, while at the same time, the layers underneath begin to be exposed.
Another material used by the artist is carbon paper, the production of which is on the verge of discontinuation since it has long been replaced by the processes of photocopying and digital text programs. The standardized Din A 4 sheets are mounted on picture supports. In the process the surface of color applied in layers onto the wax-like surface of the carbon paper is scraped away leaving fine line markings as with an engraving and suggests the appearance of music manuscript paper. The surface is its own matrix – the “original copy.”
»Maison Tatlin« filters the quintessential elements from the history of Modernism through the uncovering of deeper layers. In the process a temporal rather than spatial dimension is achieved: Hopf’s abstract compositions translate prototypes of postwar painting into a new, textile materiality. They appear like revenants on the stage of Modernism as if having been constantly overwritten, on the search of the original.
The completed prototype of Tatlin’s coat will be shown in the basement of the gallery. Inside the collar, a label is inscribed “End of History – Rain rolls off” - an ironic reference to the postulate of an “end of history” by the political philosopher Alexander Kojève.
As part of the series »Tatlin´s Code« the coat stands for a philosophical and (art)-historical system of references. The title »Tatlin’s Code« – is a wordplay on “coat” and “code.” Like a coat, a code conceals something that is only recognized when it is decoded. The final decoding or demystification should not lie in the creation nor in the reception of art.