Maximilian Arnold & John Kleckner at goeben, Berlin

Maximilian Arnold & John Kleckner
Kleckner – Sidesteps: Roughly Edged

July 24 – August 28, 2021

Goebenstraße 22
Berlin, Germany

All images courtesy and copyright of the artists and space. Photos by Stefan Hähnel

We cordially welcome you to an exhibition of recent  paintings by Maximilian Arnold & John Kleckner. This is the  first time these Berlin-based artists have displayed their  artworks together. Arnold & Kleckner work independently  from each other, but through conversations they discovered they shared many formal and conceptual ideas about  painting. In this way, selecting pictures for the exhibition  became a visual conversation; one canvas making and defining a statement, while the next one reflects, responds,  or even refutes it. The topics and themes of this conversation range across formal issues of color, texture, and  shape, to more pertinent concerns about the (im)precision  of memory, illusionism of surfaces, (dis)locations, interior/ exterior, and the joy of ambiguity and not knowing. — Take  a look. 

The joy of not knowing, delighting in uncertainty, is a  characteristic—perhaps even a philosophy of being— that  both artists embrace. Ambiguity is an engine for discovery,  it opens space for new possibilities of understanding.  With ambiguity, certainty and fact have the ability to shift  and slide, sidestepping the known, the nameable, and  contradicting the obvious. When making their paintings,  both artists cultivate a multiplicity of meanings. They use  the suggestive power of pictures, to be precise without  explicitly defining or naming things. Their paintings again  sidestep categorical labels, boundaries between figuration and abstraction are blurred, rough edges become aesthetic discoveries. These are complicated pictures, fixed  on the canvas yet seemingly in motion. These are works  that unfold in front of your gaze while remaining exactly  the same. — Look again.  

Collage and juxtaposition are essential to both artists’  practices as a foundational principle and a technical strategy. Prior to putting any paint on the canvas, much time  is spent selecting, cropping, and distorting visual fragments of both digital photographs and found printed materials. Often, the more visual information that is stripped  and removed, the more potent and useful the fragments  become. In Arnold’s works, fragments are layered and  stacked, the space of the composition is delineated with  edges, not by perspective points. The results read like  densely-filled interiors, shapes pressing the foreground,  almost claustrophobic. Kleckner’s works, by contrast, are  all exterior scenes; high-chroma fragments floating in an  unsharp landscape. The claustrophobic density is replaced here with the anxiety of agoraphobia— feeling lost in too much open space, focusing on something close at hand,  like a branch, and hold on. Yet even with all the tense and  anxious psychological energy in these paintings, there is  also an inquisitive playfulness; think of the rhyming and  repetition of shapes in Arnolds canvases or Kleckner’s  vibrant animal-like fragments. These works provoke a  feeling like a frantic realization of being hopelessly lost in  a forest, but still taking time to notice the color of leaves  and enjoy the shade trees. These artists invite viewers to  pay attention to details small and overlooked, to examine  edges, textures, and specific colors. After all, it’s details  that reveal so much crucial information we need to know,  and everything is a detail of something larger. — Look  again, again! 

Maximilian Arnold was born 1987 in Heidelberg, Germany.  From 2009-2013 he studied at Staatliche Akademie der  Bildenden Künste in Karlsruhe with Prof. Toon Verhoef  before he graduated in 2015 at Städelschule Frankfurt am  Main after two years with Prof. Willem de Rooij. He lives  and works in Berlin. Recent solo shows include: „Prepost“,  Palazzo Monti, Brescia (IT), 2020; „No Place To Rest“,  Tobias Naehring, Leipzig (D), 2019 and „A Deep Scrub“,  DUVE Berlin, Berlin (D), 2017. Selected group shows  include: „Fictional Nature“, Bärenzwinger, Berlin (D), 2019; „Group Show“, Galerie Onrust, Amsterdam (N), 2019;  „Your North Is My South“, Museum für Neue Kunst Freiburg,  Freiburg (D), 2018; „Shades Of Grey“, Kunstraum Riehen,  Riehen (CH), 2016; „Encoding The Urban“, Kunsthaus  Baselland; Muttenz (CH), 2016 and „Parked Like Serious  Oysters“, Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main,  Frankfurt am Main (D), 2015. 

John Kleckner was born in Iowa, USA. He has lived and  worked in Berlin since 2007. He graduated with a BFA  from the University of Iowa. He is currently an instructor  of painting & drawing at Bard College Berlin. This year he was awarded a Pollock-Krasner Artist Grant. His paintings  are currently on view in the group exhibition, Return of the  Dragons: Chinatown LA 1998-2008 at Blossom Market in Los Angeles. Recent solo exhibitions include, Desert Rumors at Francesco Pantaleone Arte Contemporanea, Milan  in 2019; Years Disappear at Galerie Judin, Berlin in 2017.  His works are in the collections of Museum of Modern Art  (MoMA), New York; Magasin III Museum & Foundation for  Contemporary Art, Stockholm; Saatchi Gallery, London.