Somewhere In-Between: Cathrin Hoffmann and Liam Fallon @ Duve Gallery, Berlin
Following the lifting of restrictions in most of the European countries, Duve Gallery in Berlin is reintroducing its program with a new exhibition, Somewhere In-Between, a duo show with works by Liam Fallon and Cathrin Hoffmann. Originally planned for Berlin Gallery Weekend on April 30th, the show was postponed till "things would slowly come back to normal," although that isn’t quite what’s happening. "For the opening night, we are giving away 20 min slots for two people to visit the gallery," founder and director, Alex Duve explains. "But that doesn’t really replace the vernissage."
Starting off from the term Dyad, defined as something existing as two elements, the artists each conceived their own interpretation. "This was something which we were both really intrigued with its relation to a duo show," Fallon tells us. “From that, I started to explore the idea within my own work for the show, thinking about things like push and pull, cause and effect, give and take; terms that exist as a binary and have two parts. So, the works that I made all consist of two elements." Focusing more on interpreting stylized attributes of human nature, Hoffman's perception of the term had a somewhat philosophical basis. "When I thought about the meaning of Dyad as an overall idea, things like interdependency popped into my head, along with the concept of "the same and the other," or the meaning of alterity. Identity is nothing when everything is the same and would lead to a standstill."
The title of the show, Somewhere In-Between, suggests the playfield in which both artists operate, more than often sharing similar affinity and aesthetics. "I had been a follower of Cathrin’s work for a while, and so I knew that there was a definite link—in previous paintings, she had used quite thick lines and objects in a similar way which provides another area of interest in her work for me personally," Fallon indicated one of their connecting points, and Hoffman continued, "We didn’t try to match each other’s work in an obvious, visible way although I think that our color palette influenced us somehow. We rather shared and worked on the theoretical idea and identified similarities through this base."
While Hoffman’s organic forms stretch the limitations of figurative work over the border of abstraction, Fallon's sculpted pieces digest the everyday objects and fragments, imbuing them regularly with new, surreal features. "Throughout history, especially queer history, objects have been coded and used to hide peoples identity," the artist tells us about the meaning behind his objects. "As a result, they became a language that very few people could understand. For me, as an artist, I really want to shine a light on this by revaluing and exalting them to a position where I suppose they’re never forgotten!" At the same time, Hoffman similarly considers the human figure. "I create a likeness to a human figure which is not real. A new virtual body with its weaknesses and idiosyncrasies in an empty intermediate world. By not showing a clear visual language but still enough bits to hold on, it allows the viewer to engage even more with the painting."
Strongly influenced by the digital aesthetics which infuse our lives and backed by the technologies that allow such work to be produced, there is further common ground both artists share, and as the two artists worked, this mutual influence extended to other spheres. "I liked the idea of breaking up a brick wall or the usage of belts. Therefore, I started experimenting with placing a figure in similar surroundings. For example, the painting His Buttonhole Is So Empty And Empty is kind of influenced by a shattered brick wall. Furthermore, I would say that the golden chain in Who’s Next is also slightly influenced by Liam’s belts. The piece Handstand (English Rose) can definitely be seen as influenced slightly by Cathrin’s work. I remember showing Catrin the wooden nipples that I had created for the piece and seeing an almost direct link to her previous paintings Smells Like Van Der Ast from 2019. That was the point for me when I got really excited about our show together at Duve Berlin and I think this piece in particular marks a new direction of exploration for me."
Through their appointment-only general policy and specific concept which transforms gallery founder and owner Alex Duve's Berlin loft into an art venue, they are happily confident about the future, "The good thing is that I will not have a follow-up show before the summer, so we plan to do the actual vernissage as soon as Liam can travel again," Duve told us, adding, "I want the artists to properly celebrate their show and all the work they put into it!" —Sasha Bogojev