During a residency at Berlin’s Kunstgut Academy of Fine Arts in 2015, Paula Klien discovered the vast possibilities offered by Chinese ink, a medium that required a surrender to spontaneity. The monochromatic compositions reflect a mindscape lost within a transient world. Permeated with a sense of fluidity, sombreness and raw elegance, the pieces invite viewers to muse on hidden secrets and deeper realities.
The exhibition at aquabitArt gallery, Berlin, marks a home-coming of sorts. After gaining recognition within the editorial fashion circuit, the established photographer and multimedia artist circles back to her foundations: painting and drawing. The volatility of ink provided a new language through which Klien contemplated change and the construction of art. Paired with a monochrome palette, which instils a sense of both clarity and minimalism, Invisibilities demonstrates the range of creative potential afforded by the traditional method.
Chinese ink painting has always been a mode through which to depict transcendence and spirituality; going back a millennium, the method has gone beyond a presentation of reality. Conventionally, the artists saw believed to be travelling through the metaphysical realm of Dao, a dimension in Eastern culture in which the individual can perceive objects in their original form. The transparency and versatility of the material allows practitioners to embark on a free flow of expression – a state that leads to a higher state of spirituality.
This is a philosophy that Klien adopts: “working with ink establishes a connection between the elements that permeate time and its inconsistency. It reflects the lack of control over events and announces the need to improvise when faced with unpredictabilities. It determines the possibility of choice at the meeting of options, incorporating stakes, gambling and surprise in the results.”
The compositions are as much about the process as the final image; they comprise abstract meditations on the unstable relationship between visibility and invisibility, between action and inaction. An interplay of chaos, order and spontaneity define the ink paintings, alongside a complex investigation into the construction of identity and transformation.
Paula Klien, Invisibilities, aquabitArt gallery, Berlin, from 16-27 February. www.art.aquabit.com
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1. Paula Klien, Invisibilities (2016). Courtsey of the artist and aquabitArt gallery.