*1974, lives and works in Cologne
1994 - 2000, Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste /State Academy of Fine Arts, Karlsruhe
What is there to reply and whom to? - At first glance, Christian Aberle's art does not look like the oeuvre of a rebel, but rather introverted. Through his art Aberle adresses the world in a focused, detailed gesture. Processes of transformation characterize his pictorial aesthetics; not in following the musts of depicting the world in two dimensions, but rather as the transformation of sense and meaning. The broken, the imperfect is always the starting point for his current work. But he is not satisfied with trying to fix what may not be reparable. Found forms and objects initiate Christian Aberle to a perfectionist – or at least conscious – work in the abstract. The marginalia becomes a line or application of paint of great precision. One cannot pinpoint the significance of those details, but they are there, traceable and visible in Aberle's work.
Like Fra Angelico, Odilon Redon or Lucien-Victor Guirand de Scévola, he finds a refuge in unnamed areas. Angelico's dripping patterns on walls; Redon's watercolour paintings, which disengaged the student of the detail-crazy Rodolphe Bresdin from his master's demands; or the backgrounds of Guirand de Scévola's paintings, which simply have to be there while the focus lies manically on the geometry of female faces. However, the supposed escapes into the abstract are really only shifting the context. Suddenly the detail is the center of attention. Thus Aberle executes abstract structures in order to create a new reality in their execution; one for which there is no name yet.
(from: Oliver Tepel, Entgegnungen aller Art, Dynamite, Köln, 2018 , translation by Christian Aberle)
Christian Aberle is first and foremost a draftsman - and finally a painter. Educated on the experience of Hard Edge, he appreciates the achievements of Art history – confidently leaving it behind. (...) With a confident smile he balances between Constructivism, New York School and Nouveau Réalisme [and] treads new, untrodden paths. (...) Torn scraps of paper or experiments with drawing rulers often serve as a starting point for his arrangements. (...) It is important to first create a grid in order to break out, tranfering it into a housing construct. (...) [The works] are abstract with a few exceptions, and yet they can often be interpreted as references to reality, for example as pseudo-trompe-l'oeils of actual appearances. Living spirits dwell in the conceptual [works] of Christian Aberle.
(Elke Kania, from the accompanying text of the exhibition 5 x 3, 2011, translation by Christian Aberle)
A wide variety can be discovered in Christian Aberle's graphic works: in smaller formats and with minimal devices, rarely more than coloured pencils or ink, deliberately reduced, broken down to the essentials. (...)
One characteristic that Christian deliberately reduces to absurdity is technical perfection: His drawings are like old masters, perfectly executed in their craftsmanship - but that is not the point at all. They are defiant, time-wrought, highly controlled works. In his drawings, Christian manages to make abstract things visible, almost tangible. What is he about? The in-between, the actually inconspicuous, the incidental, the other; that what remains after everything was already there, everything has already been said and asked - that what is considered to be permanent.
(from: Frauke Boggasch, Wir leben nicht in der Zeit des Wolkenbruchs /eine Annäherung an die Zeichnungen von Christian Aberle, in: Dritte Hälfte, StrzeleckiBooks, Cologne, 2013, translation by Christian Aberle)
In his [works], Christian Aberle approaches the world through a meticulous perception of the things in it, but leaves their description suspended between recognizability and abstraction. (...) In his non-objective paintings torn strips of paper, stencils and cutouts testify to the something or nothing that existed around them or between them; defining a space that surrounds them, a context in which they are or were, without exposing it. (...) Aberle is an extremely precise observer and does not primarily depict what something is, but how it is.
(from: Birgit Laskowski, Alifi My Larder, accompanying text of the exhibition, ZERO FOLD, Cologne, 2010, translation by Christian Aberle)
Eddy, 2022, LRRH_ Aerial, Düsseldorf (invitation card)
Solo shows (selection)
Eddy, LRRH_ AERIAL, Düsseldorf
Array Idle Film, ZERO FOLD, Cologne
Entgegnungen aller Art, Dynamite, Cologne
Strohdumme Pechvögel, Kunstraum K634, Cologne
Vernehmlich, PiK KunstWerk e.V., Cologne
Doppig, mit Ruth Weigand, Galerie Barbara Oberem, Bremen
Langeweile der Natur, Kjubh Kunstvereien e.V., Cologne
Masaki, Mehrwert e.V., Aachen
Alifi My Larder, ZERO FOLD, Köln /Cologne
Le Morceau Endormi, LE (9) BIS, St Etienne
Group shows (selection)
La Strada_22, EVZK e.V., Cologne
a-book-a-buy, Kjubh Kunstverein e.V., Cologne
Close Friends, Galerie b2, Leipzig
Die Stadt dringt in das Haus, Simultanhalle /Moscow Museum of Modern Art
Sammlung mit losen Enden 03: 21. Jahrhundert - Akt 2, Kunsthaus NRW Kornelimünster, Aachen
Totale 19 /out of shape, Maschinenhaus, Essen
And all together now, m29, Cologne
Ende, Kunstverein für Mecklenburg und Vorpommern, Schwerin
Kaltes Licht, Kunstverein Reutlingen
Eyetrap, Sidestreets, Nicosia
5 x 3, KUNSTRAUM Düsseldorf
State of the Union, Freies Museum, Berlin
Disclosure, Temporary Gallery, Cologne
Grafikpreis des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen, Kunsthaus NRW Kornelimünster, Aachen
Odradek, Westwerk, Hamburg
Dinge die sich gefallig krümmen, galerie KUB, Leipzig
Horizont, Gmür, Berlin
The Truth tut Gut, Montgomery, Berlin
Klasse Caramelle, Ausstellungshalle 1A, Frankfurt
Gangbang, Galerie Margit Haupt, Karlsruhe
Video screenings, events & projects
Spare Punctuation Videoscreening, 2022, Filmpalette, Cologne
video: Tamara Lorenz, Clink, DE 2022, video, sound, 2'47''
Events & projects (selection)
Green Modernism: The New View of Plants, dj-set, Museum Ludwig, Cologne
Spare Punctuation videoscreening, vinyl-release, Filmpalette, Cologne
sound collages for: POLE POSITIONS /Brigitte Dunkel
Strzelecki Books TV /Books and Music from the Living Room, Video
Late Night Thursday, dj sets, Museum Ludwig, Cologne
MEET THE TEAM, 2023, Sampling: Wade Guyton, 2019, Joan Mitchell and Friends, 2016, ...
2021, 2019, 2017, 2015, 2013, 2011, 2010
tombola, Kjubh Kunstverein e.V., Cologne
Disillusioned Once More, screening & dj Set, with Carmen Beckenbach, Le Kiosk /ZKM, Karlsruhe
Dritte Hälfte release, book launch, presentation & dj set, Heidelberger Kunstverein
Über den Geist in der Materie, lecture & slideshow, Glasmoog, KHM, Cologne
Wir lieben gar nicht die Stürme, super 8 screening & dj set, with Carmen Beckenbach, Le Kiosk /ZKM, Karlsruhe
Sur Real, 2009, Manzara Perspectives Tatar BeyiKuledebi Mah, Istanbul
Concours International des Arts Numériques, 2008, Val d'Argent
Streaming Festival, 2008, Den Haag
Transvizualia, 2008, Danzig
Areale, Sculpture@CityNord videoLAB, 2008, Hamburg
Video Arte e Arte Interativo, 2006, UERGS, Montenegro
Viper Film Festival, 2006, Basel
Bochumer Videofilmfestival, 2000
Ovar Videofestival, 2000
HD-video, DE 2022, sound, 6'52''
La Strada_22, Europäischer Verein für zeitgenössische Kunst e.V., Cologne, Sep 2022
When I am outside, I like to walk with my eyes down (on the ground I see a lot that I find exciting and inspiring). While doing so, I found the material for the first and third part of Ort /Site. I call these sections Confusion and Eschatology. The intermediate passage is dedicated to the occult and emptiness. I call it Spirit. All of my works are about creating entities from fragments. Usually I pursuit arbitration and balance - in this video it is different. It is a display of my uneasiness about the present political and social situation. Humankind is ruthlessly overusing this planet's resources and people are drifting further and further apart in their claims and views, resulting in alienation and speechlessness. Hence the dystopian mood of the film.
While walking on a road whose surface is about as old as myself, I noticed countless cracks in the asphalt - patched with bitumen. This sight immediately made me think of the formative texture stroke in Chinese ink painting, called cun. There is a large number of these strokes; they are called, for example, dissolved madness, unwound hemp fiber and torn net. I followed the course of each bitumen line with the cell phone camera. They appear kind of legible so I tried to imagine what they might sound like as a conversation. I generated such a dialogue from a fragment of a text spoken by Melas Eichhorn. Both audio tracks run backwards so only the terms "nasty" and "shit" appear between abstract vocalizations; they are the words "Bild sein" /"being an image" and "Tisch" /"table" in reverse. The spoken text is followed by a piece of music that I developed from the closing chord of Shirley Collins' The Merry Golden Tree.
The acoustic change comes with a striking visual shift. The ornamental two-dimensionality of the first part is overlaid by a fluid light space, in which the ornament completely disappears after a short time. This place could be interior or exterior, architecture or a mirage. In fact, it is a recording of a light phenomenon on the ceiling of my workroom, that I have multiplied and overlayed with each other. The geometric rigor of the space in relation to its organic surface seems unreal – and so does the accompanying sound. In addition to self-made field recordings I have used the voices of Melas Eichhorn, Genesis Breyer P. Orrigde and Mutsumi Kanamori. The spoken text is: "Tisch, Wand, Raum, Bild, Bild sein" /"table, wall, space, image, being an image", "nothing", "you're funny" and "it was scary".
The melody that leads to the last part was constructed from the final chord of This Mortal Coil's version of Song to the Siren. As the melody gradually descends into the incomprehensible stammering of Diamanda Galás and Genesis Breyer P. Orrigde, the negative image of a meadow slowly appears and becomes more and more evident. Several dozen dandelion plants sway imperceptibly in a whiff of a breeze. This image finally dissolves into a grey, checkered surface; an empty plane. Acoustically, the film ends with the sound-effect riot from the LP Disasters, followed by Sophie Rois' sounds of fright and John Cage, saying: "global living without war".
Welcome to Utopia…
installation view, 2022, LRRH_ Aerial, Düsseldorf
The flood of signifiers and arbitrary signs – not only in our society but also in art – is accompanied by the disappearance of objects. Christian Aberle is someone who loves objects for their own sake, like a craftsman. This involves, that the Cologne based artist enjoys to spend ludicrous effort in processing drawings and paintings that often reduce the idea of technical perfection to absurdity. In these works Aberle always addresses the world and its standards, but also himself and his actions.
Eddy is the first show of LRRH_ Aerial /chapter_² – Kite. The series on display combines six kites, hand-painted with dispersion on nylon kite-fabric. The chosen, rhombic prototype shape is called Eddy, after its inventor William A. Eddy (1896 – 1962). The single kites of the series can be combined into one object. The contour of this combination is no longer diamond-shaped but more reminiscent of a grenade, plug or heraldry. This outline, in turn, determines the central colour area of six in each kite. The gentle, hard-edged colour modulations in each area cause the surface to look like it has creases. The dispersal of the polygonal colour fields was defined by connecting the four corner points of all kites with all others. The resulting composition is crystal clear and dissecting and the same goes for the range of colours. The kite tails, made of shimmering braid, are puffy in comparison, causing a tender disjunction. Eddy #1 – 6 are absolutely airworthy. To imagine these highly delicate and time-wrought paintings exposed to the whims of the wind is nonetheless exciting.
Array Idle Film
installation view, 2021, solo show, ZERO FOLD, Cologne
"I went sadly" regrets the pioneer of animated film and master also of black humor, which is hidden in this anagram and with which Christian Aberle has a penchant for perfection. In Array Idle Film, which Aberle unwinds in his installation at ZERO FOLD, the artist brings sheets of paper into a rowed arrangement like individual frames of a film, but mounts these sequences next to and on top of each other on the wall and even in the room, on a polygonal column, without a fixed chronology or running direction. This renunciation of a predetermined legibility or hierarchy of meaning also characterizes the choice of materials: Aberle cuts filigree contours with a carpet knife into old checkered paper, for example from DIN A4 exercise books, which his mother has collected for reuse since the 1970s out of thrift. Inlays from found image reproductions on paper are inserted seamlessly and almost imperceptibly as such.
The trove from which the integrated snippets come includes, for example, old Disney publications, a Michael Jackson fan book, an art book by Cezanne or Renoir, or the inlays are simply leftover materials from older collages and colored frottages - sometimes recycled from studio waste. As in the historical inlays made of wood or other materials, the artist plays with trompe-l'œil effects, the insertions are made with so much craftsmanship that a painterly impression is created or one mistakes the result for a collage in which the applied is no longer distinguishable from the underlaid. The imperfection of the old, partly yellowed backing papers is counteracted by the harder inherent colors of the more recent integrated papers; the eye detects a reciprocal reinforcement of the individual qualities and interferences of the colours white with a yellow cast, or white with a violet content.
Likewise, the traces of aging, tears, discolorations, and soiling of the original sheets
contrast with the exact arrangements that are newly created in them. Here, the carpet
knife is drawn quasi freely, the scalpel wielded as a pencil: The cut loosely follows the
turns of the hand, not just the contours of what is found, moving between meticulous care and loss of control. Tiny irregularities prevent solidification and keep the details alive, lending musicality to the new compositions.
An anagram is also created by cutting words apart into their individual letters, which take on different meanings in their recombination, and so even the exhibition title is a creative revival: it recycles the title of the artist's first presentation at ZERO FOLD in 2010 - Alif my Larder, which itself quoted an onomatopoeic verse from Robert Wyatt's 1974 song Alifib.
Whether in art or music, contemporary artistic work always implies recycling and reinterpreting. Just as in the writing of a song, one's own and existing material is sampled here, experiences on the one hand a camouflaging merging that conceals the
original context, and on the other hand - where in Christian Aberle's works on paper there is the (albeit deceptive) effect of peeking through the surface - can now and then be recognized as a quotation, or pops out in the brief experience of a déjà vu as a parasitic, merely transplanted entity. The previous context of the reused material is reinterpreted while remaining in the imagination.
The gaze recognizes in the cut-out letters and offsets of illustrations the representatives of themes, narratives, and visual worlds that can be continued with the
help of the viewer's own mental cinema.
(Birgit Laskowski, press release for the show)
It requires a closer look to notice the subtle differences that make up the essence of Christian Aberle's multimedia work. Regarding the run-up to his Array Idle Film exhibition at ZERO FOLD, e.g., the artist (...) says he was intensively concerned with the "strong aesthetics of paper". Aberle has made a name for himself in Cologne, having presented his work at kjubh e. V. and Dynamite or through DJ performances, for example at the Museum Ludwig. Aberle's first fictional short story Nächstes Mal komme ich zu dir in den Dreck (Next Time I Will Join You in the Dirt) has just been published by the Cologne-based publisher StrzeleckiBooks.
Visiting the tiny exhibition space (...) one follows the sensitive gaze of the versatile artist, who transforms the banal into the special. The enthusiasm with which Aberle introduces the viewer to the different types of paper draws attention to the barely perceptible nuances of the types of paper that are conventionally labeled white. Aberle explains how he discovered the inherent aesthetic value of their fundamental tones, by placing two sheets side by side. Fascinated by their contrasting colour intensity, he juxtaposed the age-related yellow tinge of one type of paper with the lilac-coloured base tone of another, which "suddenly shone violet". A closer look at the individual sheets attached to a light column of paper stretched between the ceiling and the floor reveals a meticulous, even microscopic craft: They turn out to be elaborately manufactured inlays made of the smallest components, created from loose snippets, squared or graph paper and old ones comic books.
"The cutting and piecing together corresponds with my worldview, because I like combining different things that do not fit together."
For example, Aberle extracted individual squares from a sheet of quadrille paper and replaced them with different pairs of eyes of Donald Duck's three nephews, who cheekily peek out of the resulting openings. For some of his inlays, Aberle removes the narrative fields of the pages of old comic books in such a way that only the surrounding frame remains. By placeing other pictures in he allows it to become the formal structure that creates the image, as well as the dividing lines between the individual images of the comic. Hereby the previous depiction of the empty space and the spaces in between, purely graphic structural elements, are brought to the fore almost symbolically.
Such transformations, in which that, what is left out experiences equal treatment, often occur in Aberle's work. Ground and figure permeate one another in his paintings, as do positive and negative forms, presence and absence. The familiar, the banal, is given a new perspective in his monotypes made from Tempo handkerchiefs soaked in Indian ink. The same applies for the playful combinatorics of his anagrams. In the same dissecting, systematic manner Aberle scours the resulting free spaces - spaces for reinterpretations - and self-confidently rearranges the order of those unmistakable letters of Walt Disney's signature to I went sadly.
It is always an encountered setting that forms Aberle's material and motivic framework and determines his creative scope. The artistic appropriation of inferior things with modest means interests him more than ultra design. This approach connects him to the artists Geta Brătescu and Paul Thek. His goal is to represent material and texture: "I feed on the remote, the somewhat impaired, the vulnerable, the organic, the real." For his work, he always uses "a found template that preferably has some kind of twist." This twist can be found in the shard of a cup, a torn piece of paper, a spider's web, scaffolding, but also the reflection in the sink at his hairdresser.
Through the formal economy, the minimalism of his compositions, Aberle's forms attain independence as concrete units. Removed from the overall context, they are encountered as isolated set pieces of reality, so that the question arises again and again: What is that actually? Formally and in terms of content, Aberle makes few specifications. He does not fill the gaps, but, on the contrary, makes them visible. At the end, Aberle says that many viewers are irritated and feel left alone with the ambiguity of his work. The artist himself is relaxed about it. "I am okay with the insecurity I spread with my art."
(Bettina Haiss, Papierschnipselpoesie. Ein Portrait des Kölner Künstlers Christian Aberle, in: Stadtrevue, issue 5 /2021, translation: Christian Aberle)