Florian Meisenberg: What does the smoke know of the fire?

15 Sep-21 Oct 2023

Kate MacGarry
London E2 7HR


Kate MacGarry is delighted to announce Florian Meisenberg’s fourth solo exhibition at the gallery. The show presents a new group of small-scale paintings with ambiguous subjects.

Meisenberg uses pulverised marble as a material for the first time in these paintings. He covers semi-wet canvases with layers of the fine grey powder and gently sifts it off. Leftover protrusions adhere to the pigment, recalling fabric craft paint. The marble sparkles slightly, adding an irregular iridescence to Meisenberg’s preferred palette of secondary colours such as olive, ochre and dull rose.

The subjects of the paintings are often folkloric. There’s a couple living under a buttocks-shaped hill, hoarding goods but unhappy. A king hacks a rival to pieces as birds feed on flying scraps of flesh. A witch burns at the stake. These are not references to known tales but allusions to a generalised, mythological past - a storybook populated with archetypes and symbols, concentrated in these culminating moments. The presence of marble suggests the monumentality of history, pulverised.

Meisenberg often installs his paintings with some kind of technical apparatus. For this exhibition, it’s minimal, a long HDMI cable strung low along the gallery walls, as if underlining the canvases. One end of the cable connects to a screen displaying Meisenberg’s first experiment with time-based media. As a resident at Skowhegan in 2008 he decided to break out of the painting studio and borrowed a camera from the media lab. He watched the sun through the camera’s viewer as he filmed and noticed the image begin to dim. The sun was burning the lens, eventually it went black and the camera was ruined. The mechanical eye like the biological one is vulnerable. The destruction of the camera might have felt like a failure, but in that failure Meisenberg discovered something new and since then has explored painting as a time-based medium. Each canvas can be momentous, eventful, ripe with significance - a call to the past and like a fortune-teller reading, an omen to be interpreted in the present and an insight into the future.

Florian Meisenberg (b. 1980, Berlin) lives and works in New York. Recent solo and group exhibitions include: Provinz, Bochum, Germany (2023); E.A. Shared Space, Tbilisi, Georgia (2022); Simone Subal Gallery, New York (2021); Kate MacGarry, London (online 2020); Kunstparterre, Munich (2020); Avlskarl, Copenhagen (2020); Zabludowicz Collection, London (2019); Kunstpalais Erlangen, Germany (2019); Wentrup Gallery, Berlin (2019); Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany (2019); Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Germany (2019); Zabludowicz Collection, London (2018); Broehan Museum, Berlin, Germany, (2017); ICA, Philadelphia, USA (2017); and Kiasma Finnish National Gallery, Helsinki, Finland (2017).

A text by Brian Droitcour will be available on the website and at the gallery.

This exhibition was shipped by sea from New York.
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