Galerie Zink is proud to present ‚Uncertainty’s Grace‘, a solo exhibition by Muntean/Rosenblum. Featuring a number of new drawings and paintings alongside a special video project completed on site in Waldkirchen, the show explores the paradoxes of our current society: to be connected yet isolated.
Check out the full list of works available here
Adi Rosenblum and Markus Muntean form the artist duo, but they are in such synchronicity from working together since 1992, they could very much be considered a single artist. When looking at their works, there are no discernible factors of there being two separate set of hands or brains working on it. Their iconic style of painted images with a ‚caption‘ started way before the existence of social media. Nowadays, it is easily understood. The words under an Instagram post does not merely describe a photo, but rather is the linguistic extension of the art of this photo.
The works by Muntean/Rosenblum evoke such complex feelings for me. While they are not aggressively confronting me with that paradox, their quiet gentleness is like a deafening silence. And yet, I cannot stop looking. These works present snapshots into the protagonists‘ lives, pregnant with tension. I wonder what they’re thinking, where they’re going. It is like watching a very relatable movie, feeling attacked and seen at the same time. The paintings twinkle in their soft pastel colors, inspiring contemplation and self reflection. Looking at the works is like taking a journey that is slow but revealing, and the delicate aesthetic allows space for the viewer to pause and reflect.
This is the sensitive millennial in me speaking. Exactly the kind of people featured in their paintings. We (and gen Z) are a generation of people very concerned with the self, and even this essay I’m writing is rife with personal thoughts. In the West, many have everything we need i.e. food, shelter, water, so the existential ponders on the paradoxical nature of our lives sit fairly front and centre on our minds. Each figure in the paintings, alone or in a group, is self consciously lost in their own world. They are a visual representation of Main Character Syndrome. While people want to „fit in“, they also paradoxically want to be identified as exceptional, injecting purpose into the perceived struggles and daily toiling of life.
Below is an excerpt from the catalogue of the exhibition „A New Age: The Spiritual in Art“ at Tel Aviv Museum of Art, 2019:
Muntean/Rosenblum’s paintings are composed of disassociated fragments: figures, landscapes and texts from different sources are dissolved together into imaginary scenes whose artificiality is patent and does not try to camouflage itself. Muntean/Rosenblum collect the images of young people, the subjetcs of these paintings, from the net, from selfies and telephone photographs. One can imagine them modelling an ad for a shirt or for sneakers, while at the same time modelling a search for spirituality. The backgrounds, too–urban environments or natural landscapes, are harvested from a variety of photographic sources and join the fictitious scenes that seem to have been taken from the collective Facebook page of Youngsters of the Western World. The texts at the bottom of the works are also borrowed from various literary sources. Removed from their context and attached to doleful-eyed youngsters, they read like clichés that are also truth; words depleted of meaning yet simultaneously laden with the most profound contents: about the state of humanity, the meaning of life and the universe. Deep or shallow?
It is difficult to pinpoint Muntean/Rosenblum’s stance: is it a mirroring of a society that mumbles ideas about inner peace and quiet just as it markets trainer shoes and shirts, or an ironic gaze? Empathy or compassion for the painted figures? Their subjects are New Agers: youngsters who have everything, or at least everything that the satiated West can give–but are lost, wandering through life, seeking redemption. The subjects of their video works are the same youngsters from the paintings, in the same fashionable-shabby clothes and contemplative, meaning-seeking expressions. (…) In the paintings, the body poses that seem to have been take from a religious painting, take on the role of church music: hands thrown upwards, gaze turned to heaven, dipping in a river that is reminiscent of baptism and purification rituals, lying supine in total surrender, like a Bernini sculpture. Planted in a forest clearing, on a river bank, in and underground parking lot, in a garage, under a road interchange, on an airport conveyor belt or in a rave outdoor festival–Muntean/Rosenblum’s youngsters express both everyday banality and the search for meaning. The rays of light penetrating through the trees look like a clumsy citation from sublime romantic paintings but at the same time, despite the accentuated artificiality, the paintings are charged with an unexpected, almost embarrassing religious dimension, which invokes these two concepts that rub against each other: spirituality and religion. The releigion is not specific–Christianity’s pathos represents any religious ecstasy that could easily turn around and metamorphose into any ritual, pagan or other, even an outdoor rave party.
(text by Ruti Director / Tel Aviv Museum of Art, excerpt from the catalogue of the exhibition „A New Age: The Spiritual in Art“ at Tel Aviv Museum of Art, 2019)
Since the pandemic, I find more and more people confronting our loneliness. We attempt to find meaning in our lives and social connections amidst home office and lockdowns through meditation, baking, daily affirmations, marathons… It is nothing new, it feels more urgent lately. Muntean/Rosenblum’s paintings inspire my contemplation, provide space for it, and find comfort in seeing a bigger picture: we are not alone in our existential ponders.
Paintings are the foundation of the artist duo’s work, but they like to expand it with some additional elements. This time it is a video shot on site in Waldkirchen. Our sublime nature fits perfectly with the duo’s aesthetics. The film features is like a live action of the paintings with young people shot in an ethereal light that gives it a pastel palette. The main character is seen saying positive sentences to himself from the beginning, much like a meditation teacher would to his student. Soothing self affirmations such as „I choose me“ and „I’m enough“ are uttered as he looks deep in concentration. Then it escalates. The camera moves so close to the man that we can only see half his face, and the sound of his lips touching and breath can be heard. This immediately makes it hard to listen to. It is too intimate for the viewer as he whispers „I am loved“, as if in the viewer’s ear. It is uncomfortably familiar, and the soothing palette of people being still in the nature starts becoming eerie. At the end, he does breathing exercises while saying to himself „All is well, right here, right now“. His voice plays over seductively listless young people staring blankly in the dark, with the artificial glow of their electronic device illuminating their face.
This video is haunting yet soothing, familiar yet alien. This can be attributed to their inspiration, coming from fashion campaigns and classical paintings. They are the amalgamation of what someone looks like, stands like, speaks like as dictated by culture. This is why they are familiar, while their artificiality makes them alien.
Check out the full list of works available here
Adi Rosenblum and Markus Muntean were born in 1962, and began working together in 1992. Work by Muntean/Rosenblum has been exhibited widely in international museums, institutions and galleries. Recent solo exhibitions include Espacio Marte, Mexico City (2020); MAC, Coruña (2018); MOCAK, Krakow (2018); Group exhibitions they recently participated in were, among others, at Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2019); Kunsthaus Graz (2018); Nam June Paik Art Centre, Gyeonggi-do (2018); The Parkview Museum, Singapore (2017); and Oude Kerk, Amsterdam (2016). Their work is included in both private and public collections, such as the MoMA, New York; the Albertina, Vienna; 21c Museum, Louisville; the KRC Collection, Voorschoten; The Rubell Family Collection, Miami, and Cobra to Contemporary/The Brown Family Collection.