curated by 24hdrop. - Annabel Häfner, Martin Kacmarek, Jochen Mühlenbrink
Cabinet Showroom - What are we looking for when time stands still ?


About the exhibition

Inhale. Exhale. Pause.

Meditation mantras have become spiritual guides since at least the year 2021, forcing us to calm down in the face of the overwhelming acceleration of contemporary daily life. Thus, especially now, the current seems to be gaining importance in New Age Healing, where the emerging need for self-care, mindfulness, and escapism takes center stage in contrast to the guiding principles of modernity – accumulation, mobility, and speed. Introspection and meditation according to the teachings of Marcus Aurelius instead of unrestrained excess and external control. Given the state of the world, a longing for nostalgic images and retreats permeates our collective consciousness. Stillness gives time. Or does it not?

The exhibition “What are we looking for when time stands still?” curated by 24hdrop addresses, throughthe works of Annabell Häfner, Martin Kacmarek, and Jochen Mühlenbrink, the question of those contemplative intermediate states which can also signify a fatal paralysis. Because a healthy skepticism towards standstill seems to be quite important: for some, a welcome breather, for others, an eternal Groundhog Day. Past and future merge into an endless loop, from which there seems to be no escape in the face of outdated power structures.

Esoteric color plays and blurred forms characterize Annabell Häfner’s pictures, in which structures disappearand transparent visions of non-places emerge. Her atmospheric paintings exist as places of transit: hotels, airports, train stations, and waiting rooms in a constant interplay of fleeting arrivals and departures. Starting from intimatememories, she creates places of longing to escape the hustle and bustle of life for a brief moment.

Jochen Mühlenbrink picks up nostalgic scenes that we still know from our childhood: painting on windows during rainy weather on endlessly long car rides. Landscapes that were once visible gradually disappear into the mist of the windows. Mühlenbrink is an escapist who artistically combines fantasy and reality in his paintings withthe trompe-l’œil technique, creating infinitely new expanses through the illusionistic effect where time and space collide.

With his paintings, Martin Kacmarek takes us into a past painting, into a rural environment where time seems to stand still and the eternal endurance required by rural life comes to light. The protagonists appear tired at work or during breaks, yet powerful and proud. Kacmarek envelops the canvas in an almost gloomy atmosphere, reminiscent of both the beginning and the end of a strenuous workday. The airbrush technique gives the paintings an almost photographic quality, while other details appear exaggeratedly grotesque – a reference to video games. In the seemingly inevitable, endlessly the same everyday life, Kacmarek manages to bring the beauty of life hidden in fleeting gestures onto the canvas.

Text: Oona Zyman

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