Magazine article Artforum International

Nedko Solakov. (Reviews: Berlin)

Magazine article Artforum International

Nedko Solakov. (Reviews: Berlin)

Article excerpt

NEUER BERLINER KUNSTVEREIN

Over the past several years, Nedko Solakov has been working to dispel the aura that still seems to linger around fine art. Using irony as his dominant rhetorical mode, the Bulgarian's interventionist installations expose many of art's historical myths and undermine accepted conventions of its display, often to witty and poignant effect. For example, in 1999, Solakov put large black velvet quotation marks around several prominent paintings at the Museum for Foreign Art in Sofia, raising questions of authorship and originality in a single, elegant gesture. More recently, in 2001, he replaced a public sculpture in front of a police headquarters with a violently defaced replica, creating tension through the location of this supposed act of iconoclasm more than through the gesture itself. And at last year's Venice Biennale, Solakov hired two workers to simultaneously paint a gallery space white and black, displaying the reification of artistic labor in a Sisyphean loop. Each of these works functioned to deflect th e viewer's attention away from the art object and focus it instead on the ideologies contained by the context of the artistic gesture.

For this exhibition, Solakov turned his critical eye on the movement that arguably spawned "auraric" subjectivity: Romanticism. The primary element of "Romantic Landscapes with Missing Parts" was a suite of large-scale landscapes set in conspicuous gold frames. When painting these tongue-in-cheek quotations of Caspar David Friedrich, Solakov deliberately left out the quintessentially Romantic highlights: the moon, the sailor's boat, the flock of birds, and so on. A large handwritten wall text explained that such elements were omitted in the hope that "all these missing patts" would "have a better and more interesting life when left outside the paintings. …

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