Berliner Luft, Andrej Dúbravský
The gallery is pleased to present Andrej Dúbravský for the 6th installment of our weekly series, Berliner Luft, on view Tuesday, 02 June until Saturday, 06 June. Through figuration, landscapes, and occasional abstraction, Dúbravský’s paintings articulate his reflections in empathetic yet unsparing studies of the environment and its devastation, of man and nature. For Berliner Luft, the artist will present, for the first time in Berlin, a seminal series of works on paper titled Chem Farmers (2016), accompanied by an installation of ceramic works from his series Vases (2015).
The period from 2015–2016 marks the year Dúbravský relocated his home and studio to the Slovakian countryside, in the village of Rastislavice, and established his farm and garden. His passion for developing and maintaining this land required active engagement with the local phenomena as well as the farming community. While incredibly inspiring, this period marks a shift in Dúbravský’s work, as his disillusion with the ideals of nature settles in, and the apparent tensions of man and nature rise.
Chem Farmers (2016) depicts youthful gap-toothed farmers, classically cropped portraits, from torso up, with gaze out and straw hats encircling their heads. Drawn in ink on handmade papers, the figures grin and gaze in a yellow-brown aura saturated with pesticides, iron sulfate, and sausage grease. Cigarette butts, beer caps, tea bags, and seeds are then collaged into the sticky smears. The littered surfaces, and intoxicated subjects, allude to this break with the romantic ideals of agriculture, as poisonous chemicals and intoxicants are frequently used and consumed. Despite their corruption, the portraits remain dreamy, sexy, almost saintly. The Chem Farmers series aims to sustain utopian ideals under even dystopian conditions.
This combination of crudeness and delicacy is recognized in a series of three sculptural ceramic vases, placed on the pedestal and floor adjacent to the drawings. Roughly formed faces, mouths open wide, and adorned with small horns are the base for elongated vessels containing flowers. Tragic, romantic, almost Art Nouveau, their dripped glazes are “not without affinity to post-coital liquids” (Sir Norman Rosenthal, On the Work of Andrej Dúbravský, 2015).
+ Dúbravský is currently producing a monthly zine titled ANDREJ, which manifests the artist’s position as a gay man living between the rural countryside of Slovakia and New York City. ANDREJ is a reaction to the current economic, environmental, and pandemic crisis, highlighting exceptional circumstances through original texts on farming, gardening, cooking, sex, creativity, art-making, global uncertainty, and self-doubt. ANDREJ is available to order through the gallery’s online store and artist’s Instagram, while copies last!