A bird in the grass is worth a thousand hearts
Duo show with Caitlin Hespe & Ida Lawrence
10.09.2021 to 19.09.2021 for Berlin Art Week 2021
RETRAMP Gallery, Reuterstraße.62, 12047 Berlin, www.retramp.com
The title of the duo exhibition by Caitlin Hespe and Ida Lawrence „A bird in the grass is worth a thousand hearts“ is an amalgamation of four different English proverbs: “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”, “The grass is always greener on the other side”, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” and “A picture is worth a thousands words”. The latter proverb fits extremely well to the works of the two Australian visual artists. Because through the figurative representation of their paintings and drawings, their pictorial motifs and the integration of hand-painted text and puns, the works speak for themselves and often tell a little story. The confrontation of objects and motifs in a picture, which seem to have no connection, usually results in strange associations. With both artists there are also stylistic overlaps, such as taking up a grid/net in some works. Imperfect, deformed, with meandering lines or set in perspective, an actually structuring tool becomes a deformed pattern.
Hand-painted text in the form of short sentences, slogans or short narrative excerpts give the images an additional level and new interpretation. With thematic allusions and usually with a sense of humor, they give the works a different way of looking at the objects or figures depicted. Sequencing and repeating sections of images in a work can be found in some of Caitlin Hespe’s work as well as ida Lawrence’s. In Caitlin Hespe’s work, there are usually two or four images in a single work, which, set side by side, resemble each other, yet differentiate and may seem strangely juxtaposed. These motif repetitions are not presented in exactly the same way, but are altered, as in Ida Lawrence’s work, for example, in the fifteen pictures of the architecture of the church in Zionskirchplatz with the sky in the evening sun, or the fruit baskets decaying in sequence. They are deformed, denatured or distorted and are intentionally imperfect. Both artists are concerned with the perception of things, with illusion and imperfection, and playful reinterpretations for new trains of thought. In the foreground is the aspect that separate things meet or collide and that these visual confrontations/connections irritate and surprise on a pictorial level. And despite the playful, poetic approaches and humorous Dadaist hints of both artists with biographical allusions, one can also sense a certain nostalgia and melancholy, which can certainly be found in the proverbs that served as inspiration for the exhibition title.
The two Australian visual artists are now playing with the interweaving of their works in the spaces of RETRAMP, transforming the gallery into a laboratory of playful associations, overlaps and correlations of their pictorial worlds. Through the juxtapositions and modes of presentation, two artistic approaches are brought together by means of selected works that were created separately, showing surprising similarities, as if the two long-time friends were in telepathic artistic connection. Here in the spatial context, their works now experience concrete relationships, interference, reciprocal references, and above all, a resonance in this unique constellation.
Text by Katia Hermann, September 2021.
A bird in the grass is worth a thousand hearts
Duo show by Caitlin Hespe & Ida Lawrence
During Berlin Art Week 2021 from 10.09.2021 to 19.09.2021
Opening Friday 10.09.2021, 5 pm – 9 pm.
Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays open from 3 pm – 7 pm.
RETRAMP Gallery, Reuterstr. 62, 12047 Berlin, www.retramp.com
The duo show A bird in the grass is worth a thousand hearts sees Retramp re-vamped into a laboratory of play and possibility in a reunion. Caitlin Hespe and Ida Lawrence are two artists who have been working apart from each other (most recently in Budapest and Berlin, respectively), though also in close contact. Through telepathic communication (or just regular phone contact, we cannot be sure) motifs merge and collide, and thematic encounters occur. In her drawings and paintings, Caitlin Hespe pairs images in surprising combinations through a new logic and sensibility. She makes leaps and links between associations and language, and plays with the page as a space of illusions. Ida Lawrence’s canvases tell stories of mishaps, (mis)understanding and (dis)connection. Set between Germany, Indonesia and Australia — her homes at different times — her narrative paintings reflect recent observations, delve into distant memories, and chart her attempts to make sense of the world.
The title of the exhibition A bird in the grass is worth a thousand hearts is a conflation of (at least) four English language proverbs, each representing a sentiment or lesson for a specific moment. One values that which is close in the present, another that absence can grow desire, one says things in the distance are seen with a skewed perspective, another that images and words can not really equate. Holding each of these ‘wisdoms’ could be confusing, maybe nonsensical, or perhaps the confused proverb is a wisdom in itself?
In the same way, this exhibition developed in situ connects threads of the artists’ thoughts, anecdotes, messages and mark-making sensibility into a new conversation within the gallery space.
Curated by Katia Hermann.
About the artists
Caitlin Hespe (b. 1989, Sydney, Australia) is a visual artist whose research-based installation practice includes drawing and painting. She graduated at the National Art School (Australia), with a Master of Fine Art (Drawing) in 2018. She works individually, and as half of a collaborative duo with Emilie Syme-Lamont. In 2019 Caitlin was an artist-in-residence in Paris at La Cité des Arts Internationale awarded through the National Art School, later a program assistant for the Budapest Art Residency (BARTR). She has shown works in a collaboration through PINCE Projects in Budapest in 2021, and with solo shows at The Waiting Room Projects and Articulate Project Space in Sydney. She is currently based in Budapest, Hungary.
Ida Lawrence (b. 1988, Sydney, Australia) is a visual artist with a special interest in storytelling. Her narrative paintings combine text and images, fact and fiction, and drawings from research, observations and personal experiences. Painting is for her a way of making sense of the world and usually approached with a sense of play and humor and is particularly interested in how the visual and ‘abstract’ language of painting can be a form of storytelling in itself.
In Australia, Ida graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the National Art School in 2009 and received First Class Honours at Sydney College of the Arts in 2014. In 2009 she co-founded MILS gallery, an artist-run project space in Sydney, then moved to Indonesia where she studied dance at the Indonesian Arts Institute, Yogyakarta. Since 2017, Ida has been a member of Woven Kolektif. She lives and works in Berlin since 2019.