Friday May 28, Armin Boehm's new exhibition “Nachtcafé (pas d'assurance pour la Nuit)” opens in Hans Alf Gallery.
Armin Boehm (b. 1972, Aachen) was born and raised in southwest Germany. Today, he lives and works in Berlin. Boehm attended the academy in Düsseldorf, where he was the protégé of Jörg Immendorff. He is represented internationally by Meyer-Riegger (Berlin and Karlsruhe), Peter Kilchmann (Zürich), Francesca Minini (Milano) and Susanne Vielmetter (Los Angeles).
As a painter, Boehm has a unique style and touch that make his images instantly identifiable. Boehm almost always incorporates paper and textile patches in his works as a tactile reminder of the many layers of meaning in any image. As Boehm himself puts it, he “likes to paint with a pair of scissors”. This technique serves to emphasize the constructed nature of the painting, and because of the unusual texture of the canvas, strangely recognizable but still not entirely familiar, the viewer is forced to reexamine the work and second-guess his first impression. It is a way of provoking the eye and impeding automatic cognitive reactions.
As an artist, Armin Boehm is both part of society and someone situated on the outside looking in; he is simultaneously the elegant Berlin dandy, who is often pictured lounging in the periphery of his own motives, and the perspicacious and sarcastic polemicist, who calmly registers and dissects from a distance. Whatever his subject may be – innocuous cityscapes, riots from the suburbs, surreal portraits, decadent champagne parlors or flower still lives – Boehm playfully and freely makes use of the past and the present, of the humorous and the tragic, the beautiful and the monstrous, of the political and the naïve. In his often rather epic paintings, he moreover demonstrates his abilities as a sardonic storyteller, who always allows for at least two contradictory readings of the same scenario.
In “Nachtcafé (Pas d’assurance pour la Nuit)” it is the myth of the metropolis, the decadence of the elite, and the eternal conflict between the beautiful and the hideous in a globalized city that Boehm places under his microscope. Snapshots of busy crowds surrounded by commercials and billboards in a nameless square are complemented by gloomy tableaus from the private home of the bohemian, where a carefree cat snakes its way through pompous flower decorations and flimsy curtains. In the titular painting “Nachtcafé” we meet the artist as a DJ at a fancy cocktail party, and in a series of Boehm’s infamous psychological portraits we get up close and personal with the café’s dubious customers that tear and pull at their rubber-like faces, grimace towards the beholder and expose hideous creatures behind the masks. The fragile nature of any intimate relationship, and the artist’s own stake in this is also dissected. Needless to say, there is plenty to look at in Armin Boehm’s gloomy night cafe.