Since the last exhibition of Arno Beck (*1985, Bonn) in Frankfurt (2017), much has happened to the former master student of Eberhard Havekost. He has had exhibitions in Rio de Janeiro (Cidade des Artes), New York (Fortnight Institute & Foxy Productions), London (Collyer Bristow Gallery) and Miami (Little Havana).
Beck is skilled in many different techniques. In his third exhibition in Frankfurt, his preoccupation with the world of digital images has reached a new level. For the exhibition ‘Crystal Math’ he created large-format ink drawings. They deal with forms of digital representation and their analogue transfer. This translation of a digital form vocabulary with analog techniques leads to fascinating results, which are composed of complex as well as humorous pictorial ideas.
Beck’s works are first created in digital space and then transferred into real space in various analog ways. He is interested, among other things, in the question of how the use of the computer shapes our perception and how he, as a painter, can make visual phenomena of the computer tangible by means of painting and drawing. While what is seen on the screen is always plain, the artist has to interpret this and think about surface, structure and style for his works. At first glance, the images may appear to have been created digitally and printed out, but on closer observation, however, the artist’s handwork reveals itself and the drawing quality becomes clear. The appeal of his images lies precisely in the fact that they overlap, but do not completely cover the analogue and digital spheres. He is interested in the so-called “perfect imperfection” of the manual realisation, with which he undermines the perfection of the digitally represented, breaks up the ordering system of the grid and thus humanises it.
In terms of motifs, Beck’s pictures are composed of pixelated fragments or diverse digital elements (icons) that are familiar from the daily use of digital media. In graphic programs, painting is imitated with the use of tools on the computer and painted gestures are simulated with the appropriate means. These programs offer the user the possibility to imitate, for example, pen, brush or spray can in digital space. In the next step, Beck turns the tables by transferring the use of these tools back into painting. Through the superimposition of forms, the use of drop shadows, and the merging of color gradients, the illusion of spatial depth, which has been an important component of painting for centuries, is indicated. Beck basically produces meta-pictures because they are pictures about making pictures. Beck shows us not only the picture, but also the space in which it is created and the tools that go with it. Even the user interface offered by the graphics program becomes part of the picture.
All these fascinating works are permeated by the interest in examining the digital from a painterly perspective. The viewer should be able to grasp it and experience it spatially. The production of these pictures requires a long manual process, so that deceleration is an important aspect of the works. Especially in times of a permanent flood of information, Beck’s pictures attract the viewer’s attention and cause astonishment in view of the congenial fusion of digital motifs and craftsmanship.
Artist: Arno Beck
Venue: Schierke Seinecke Galerie, Frankfurt
Exhibition title: Crystal Math
Date: 14 June – 31 August, 2019
Text/Press release and images provided by the event.
© Arno Beck; Schierke Seinecke Galerie, Frankfurt am Main GERMANY E.U.