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Rahel Sorg & Danijel Sijakovic

Rahel Sorg & Danijel Sijakovic

Location: EMDE GALLERY - Mainz

The gallery is excited to present paintings by Rahel Sorg and photography by Danijel Sijakovic in its second exhibition.

What makes a joint exhibition attractive is the artists’ longstanding friendship and constant exchange in relation to each other’s works. Both artists work in different media: Rahel Sorg’s large sized, expressive paintings and Danijel Sijakovic’s in comparison small, carefully composed photography works seem to be miles apart. But precisely these differences make the confrontation exciting, not least because one can compare the possibilities of expression and the effects of two very different medias with each other.

Interview between the artists and Lina Louisa Krämer (Kunsthalle Mainz, Curatorial department)

Lina Louise Krämer: Both of you are studying at the art academy in Mainz and the Emde Gallery realizes now a joint exhibition of you both together. Will the selection of the works be influenced by the current exceptional situation? What are you currently working on?

Danijel Slijakovic: The circumstances have changed, technically, I would have been in Croatia right now to continue work on my Western series. This project is put to rest for now, but I am working on new projects. Together with a lyricist friend, who follows a pictorial approach, and a photographer, I am currently working on a photo book on peripheries in urban spaces. Areas, which because of their one-sided way of functioning, have a completely different infrastructure than inner city areas. These peripheral spaces, though, keep the whole city running, that’s where the power plants are located, for example, or the waste disposal facilities…

LLK: What do you find interesting about these places, which are also called non-places, blind spots, as one doesn’t often reside in them unless for work?

DS: The design of these peripheries is absolutely functional. Close to nothing is based on aesthetic decisions, but rather on how the material – so, the architecture and surrounding space – supports the function. For example, pipe connections influence architectural decisions. Interesting forms and building structures are the result, which one usually won’t find in inner cities. Of course there are public spaces there as well, but it certainly isn’t geared towards wanting to spend more time in them than necessary. These codes, which structure the space, interest me.

LLK: And you, Rahel, which role does the current situation play for your or in your works?

Rahel Sorg (RS): My everyday life really hasn’t changed much. I need a studio, a place to work. And I still go there to paint almost every day.

LLK: Does the current situation enter your paintings thematically? Do specific subjects actually play a role at all?

RS: No. That really isn’t the approach I pursue while working. So, to let subjects slip in. Rather, I want to create something, that hits a personal subject, which might trigger something different in every viewer. Of course it moves me, relativizes some points of interest in their importance and changes my point of view on a few things. But I don’t want to point out something specific in an obvious way. That would prescribe my work a function or a goal. But I don’t want to create rules, which one should comply by whilst viewing to be able to understand something. And I also do not want to exclude anyone or limit them in their freedom to view my paintings. 

LLK: The questions, about what they are about, what is to be seen specifically in your paintings, which fluctuate on the border between figuration and abstraction, are probably ones you hear quite often, right?

RS: That is a recurring question. First of all, it is important for me, that everyone can look at my paintings without having to withstand the pressure, that can be triggered by explanatory extras, like texts or guided tours. Principally, I want to give food for thought or something to have to look twice at. I bring back memories with certain colors or forms, play with the habits of our eyes, but it’s up to everyone themselves if they want to engage.

LLK: When one looks at both of your works, it is difficult to discover many parallels at first glance. In spite of that, or exactly because of that, an interesting field of tension emerges from the confrontation of photography with painting, or what do you reckon?

RS: We do have topics, which occupy both of us, although they do not always have to directly flow into our works.

DS: Our presentation format is different, our working method and approach as well…

RS: …and still there are overlapping points. With painting and photography you have formal “rules” in the construction of the image for example, which create connections between both genres. Or horizontal lines and perspectives. In my works I play with these “rules”, break them or contradict them. Danijel reacts to them from behind his camera, the camera specifies the format, just like the size of the canvas does.

DS: Exactly, I reduce my environment inside of the format. I deliberately put something into the format and then make a decision for a certain section. The canvas also, on which Rahel paints, is thus a formal specification. This is were we meet in our working method, in the attempt to play with these formal specifications, to leave them behind.

If one takes a look at the history of painting and photography, there are many points of contact, which do not necessarily hold hands with each other, though. For some time photography was advertised as the replacement of painting, because it can depict reality immediately, through an allegedly objective point of view. Because of this assumption, painting might have actually won more freedom. Photography also hasn’t served just for the purpose of documentation for a long time now and established itself as an independent genre in the art context. Painting and photography have found new ways to develop and still meet in juxtapositions, like in this exhibition for example.

LLK: How did the exhibition come to be, specifically? What can be seen?

RS: Annette Emde, the founder and owner of the Emde Gallery, and I have been in contact for a longer period of time now. A while ago Annette invited me to be represented as an artist in her gallery. Shortly after, Danijel joined. We have known each other for a while, Danijel began studying at the art academy in Mainz a year and a half after me.

DS: I’ll be showing some photographs, which were made here in Mainz in the last few months. The travel restrictions have been a chance for me to deal with my close surroundings more intensely.  

RS: All three of us have chosen a selection of works. What ultimately works in the space has yet to be seen.

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