Nikos Aslanidis in Emsdetten, Germany

Nikos Aslanidis is not exactly a pleaser. His paintings can look rather grim, leading us into dark ages, showing people in the battle of life. The question coming up while visiting his exhibition in Emsdetten is how much of our own era, and our own lives, is reflected in the paintings. On closer inspection, the situations depicted aren’t that far from home. In each painting there is a figure engaged in some kind of work or activity, such as in The Gardener, The Alchmist or The Hunter. The good news is that Aslanidis presents his vision always with an understanding of order, with nuance and also with beauty. As a painter he seems to find a task in making situations of life presentable and worth looking at with curiosity, no matter how uncomfortable or tense they are.

The Thessaloniki based artist currently has his first institutional solo exhibition in Germany, ‘Corpora’ at the Emsdettener Kunstverein, up till 15 March 2020.

Image: The Dancer (detail) 2014-16, oil on linen, 180 x 200 cm

‘Trees’ at Kunsthalle Düsseldorf

A visit to the exhibition ‘Trees’ with works by Carroll Dunham and Albert Oehlen made me think about the difference between motif and subject matter, or even ‘content,’ in painting. The fact that both artists paint trees was taken as the glue for this duo presentation in the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf. Yet, one should not get too philosophical (or ecological, or symbolical) about that. The tree here is a formal motif – a vehicle to construct a painting, and as far I can see it does not connect the painters in a deeper way. What I like mostly about the show are Oehlen’s large paintings where the shapes of a bare, winter tree counteracts with geometric color fields. At times the trees resemble human or animal figures in their dynamic shapes. The exhibition becomes interesting where trees stop to be just trees…

The exhibition is up till 1 March 2020