WESTWERK, Hamburg 2011
ÜBERGANG, Pluto-Ausstellungsraum, Berlin 2009
Poison and Antidote
The landscapes of the artist Peter Boué, born 1957 in Hamburg, lead the viewer in the truest sense into the ‘heart of darkness’. His drawings, carried out with chalk in overlapping layers, all appear to follow the dictum: ‘paint it black’. Offering the viewer polyvalent readings, Boué’s works may be seen as a reaction to the current art situation suspended between tremendous abundance and an arbitrary flood of images; at the same time Boué is consciously drawing upon the aesthetics of the artistic Bohemia of the 19th century. Redon, Seurat and Whistler, for example, specifically chose to employ the ‘non-color’ black shunned in academic art circles for shaping their visions. Boué deliberately relates to the competition with photography that already existed at that time, integrating and expanding the aesthetics of photography, however, by including elements of simulated information in his works in the form of collage. In this manner he creates drawings which have the appearance of photographs without actually being such. Thus, ‘Modernism is viewed from its closing point’.
KX/Kampnagel, “(6×7)ausfliegen”, 2001
As ‘pseudo-ready-mades’ of surrealist origin his combination of drawings and found pieces of imagery (newspaper documents and documentary photography) establish an awareness that in reverting to nature as a metaphor for healing is reminiscent of Romantic prerequisites. Thus, nature and landscape once more become a political issue – both the poison and the antidote for today’s instrumental, technoid sense of consciousness, banal materialism and arbitrariness of values. The images refracted by the media no longer convey a definable reality. Where everything is levelled out and thus becomes interchangeable, the site of war no longer is distinguishable from a seeming idyll. Global interconnection through the media is a trap for both perception and consciousness.
The elegance of the color black, as well as the revolutionary connotations attached to it, covers the emptiness of the underlying image with an aesthetic varnish. As a consistently monotonous landscape the desert becomes a metaphor for a sense of yearning, for escape and for violence; the individual fight in the industrial and digital jungle of today is made tangible in the representations contained in Boué’s works. With his realistic narrative form Boué puts to use the possibility of a residual avant-garde game, playing out art historical contexts, while criticizing various tendencies within the confusion of art, advertisement and pseudo-information that has become devoid of all categorizing principles. In his ‘toxic landscapes’, which have been emerging in series since 1998, Boué juggles with picture structures derived from photography and TV-images; in regard to measurement and composition they appear in a classical sense beautiful, yet they still reveal the chasms of present-day consciousness and its dangers: the ‘poisonous fruits of a civilisation that has come to its conclusion’ – artistic reflection as an antidote.