The word "marginal" is always used to describe something that is relatively unimportant, something that is minor, subordinate, insignificant. Slavomir Elsner applies the word to his "Populaire" series of coloured pencil drawings, from which he has vandalistically ripped out the middles, leaving only a couple of torn fragments at the edges. The accustomed exhibition visitor is at first taken aback by the wasteful way the artist treats his drawings, not least because they seem to have been works of extreme virtuosity, works too beautiful to be created one minute and then almost completely destroyed the next. Deprived of the actual, central motif, the naturally curious visitor has no choice but to rely on his usual way of seeing things and, using his own powers of association and imagination, mentally adds the missing pieces in order to obtain a complete picture. As he does so, the viewer sooner or later becomes aware of the spicy character of the subject matter – very much in the vein of "adult" magazines of the 1970s – and finds himself in the involuntary role of the voyeur, although there is actually nothing to see. Here Slawomir Elsner once more plays with the viewer's perception, presenting a work he has created but at the same time deliberately revealing only fragments thereof. The power of the art work lies precisely in the artist's witholding of it.
Another work shown in the exhibition – "Odyssey" – also plays with our perception. Three men are wandering across a desert; the horizon dissolves into a haze. The picture is hanging on a nail from its top right-hand corner, totally askew, as though it has slipped to one side. But if it were hanging straight, the three men would seem to be falling out of the picture. The imaginary change of perspective again takes place on the mind's eye of the viewer.
Also planned for the exhibition is a series of monochrome portraits executed with a set of coloured pencils, each one in a different colour. The portraits will show persons and artists associated with the Rüdiger Schöttle Gallery, together constituting the gallery's own site-related, person-specific installation.
Slawomir Elsner was born in Poland in 1976 and came to Germany at the age of eleven. He lives and works in Berlin and, since graduating from the School of Art and Design in Kassel, can look back upon a great many group and solo exhibitions all over the world – in Zürich, Warsaw, Paris, London, Madrid, New York and in numerous German cities, the last one being at the Marburger Kunstverein in 2011 (title: Marginesy). Winner of this year's Falkenrot Prize, Slawomir Elsner had his next major institutional exhibition at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, beginning in May 2012. This exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue (available here in the gallery).