Galerie Kornfeld is pleased to present a two-person exhibition of paintings from Natela Iankoshvili and Christopher Lehmpfuhl. This exhibition looks at Georgia as a site of inspiration for two strong artists coming from radically different positions: a contemporary male painter who was born and still lives in Berlin, Germany, works on the spot in a country he has never visited before, and paints there with his hands, en plein air. And a strong woman, who was born and lived in Georgia from 1918 to 2007, and who can be regarded as the most notable Georgian female artist of the 20th century, paints the landscapes of her home country in her own, unique style, with powerful brushstrokes set on a dark background.
To produce the works for this exhibition, Christopher Lehmpfuhl (b. 1972) was invited by Galerie Kornfeld to a journey to Georgia, accompanied by gallery director Mamuka Bliadze who served as a guide and confidant to the artist as he painted images along the Georgian countryside and in the capital Tbilisi in his signature style – hands in oil paint, executed on the spot, in heat and cold, sun, rain and wind. Christopher Lehmpfuhl painted the sites of Caucasus with Mount Kazbeg, a sleeping volcano and one of the highest mountains of Georgia, Jvari Monastery and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, sites that illustrate Georgia’s rich and century old history. As well as Sighnaghi, a well-known town in Kakheti, a region where wine is cultivated, and finally Tbilisi, the capital, a vibrant, modern city on one hand, and a city with its own long history on the other.
The creative process of Lehmpfuhl’s painting is rooted in the conditions of the materiality of paint and his memory of painting his surrounding scenery. Following from a psychological and phenomenological set of ideas about perception that emerged alongside late nineteenth century Impressionism and early Proto Expressionism. Lehmpfuhl’s paintings connect the sense of matter to the immediacy and expanded condition of the mind that is simultaneously sensing and imagining it, to the perceived interior image that is formed in the act of first viewing a chosen motif. It begins as a percept or mental image that is imagined and memorized and thereafter process enacted through the artist’s active finger painting procedures on the spot, or, as the artist says: “I have a memory or idea before I start, this is a sort of sketch in my head.” Through heavy impasto marks in oil paint and large scale canvases the surface of Lehmpfuhl’s paintings tell as much of a story of their making as the images they depict. Hence the Georgian landscapes and architectural subject paintings, while yet filtered through the focused perception of the artist, still nonetheless are selected as recognizable landscape locations.
Female artist Natela Iankoshvili (1918–2007) was an iconic artist in her home country of Georgia. Even today many regard her work as a national treasure and her paintings are known for their moody, luscious colorful quality depicting landscapes of her home country as well as portraits of friends and community members. She was a prolific artist, including more than 2,000 works in her oeuvre. Iankoshvili’s recognizable style is known for its dark blacks, greens and
gleaming moments of light erupting out of a field of darkness. A relationship to the paintings of the "Blauer Reiter" can be found, as well as reminiscences to artists as diverse as Niko Pirosmani, El Greco or Paul Gauguin.
In her landscape paintings, powerful forms, confidently outlined with only a few brush-strokes on the black background, merge into vividly colored images. Figures and landscapes burst into bloom on the dark ground. Her technique is such that tones and colors shade gradually into one another to create hazy forms that feel in movement on the surface of the canvas. Her paintings of Georgia, that occupy a prominent place in the artist’s work, are noteworthy in the way they depict scenes from a national landscape.
Christopher Lehmpfuhl’s impressions of the landscape of Georgia, a land foreign to him, shifting the paradigm of the lense of Georgia as seen by Natela Iankoshvili. Through explorations of foreignness and what contexts, close to and far away from home can create, Iankoshvili and Lehmpfuhl portray the Georgian landscape. Through this examination of Georgia from two distinct positions this exhibition asks the question: what new things are to be seen, when observing another’s home through painting? From two perspectives across the table: from home as the site of investigation for Iankoshvili; to a travel journal filtered through Lehmpfuhl’s hands, this exhibition finds Georgia as a site for discovery.Christopher Lehmpfuhl, a master student of Klaus Fußmann at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin, has received numerous awards, including a scholarship from the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts and the GASAG Art Award Berlin. For the 20th anniversary of Germany’s reunification in 2009 the artist received a commission to paint the 16 States of the Federal Republic of Germany. His works have been shown in museums and galleries all over Germany and abroad, most recently at the Marburger Kunstverein. The exhibition “Schlossplatz im Wandel”, featuring the large body of works that focus on the demolition of the Palast der Republik and the reconstruction of the Berliner Stadtschloss, is planned for early 2019 in Berlin.
Natela Iankoshvili studied at the Art Academy in Tbilisi and presented her work in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Georgia, the Soviet Union and abroad. She received several awards, including the Shota Rustaveli-Prize, the most prestigious art prize in Georgia. Her works are presented in prestigious collections like the Tretyakov State Gallery in Moscow or the National Gallery in Tblisi. From May 3–6, 2018 Galerie Kornfeld will present Natela Iankoshvili's work at Frieze New York, her first exhibition in the US.A book, published by Wienand Verlag, 88 pages, with an introduction by Mamuka Bliadze, an art historic essay by British art historian Mark Gisbourne and color images of all works from Christopher Lehmpfuhl's trip to Georgia, will be launched on Thursday, May 24 at 6pm.