Last evening I had the pleasure to attend the vernissage of Christoph Niemann at Galerie Max Hetzler in Berlin. The small room upstairs in the Galerie Max Hetzler was full. Very noticeable in the centre surrounded by friends & admirers was the tall slim frame of Christoph Niemann. People were excited to be there, there was a pleasing buzz of chatter in the room.
The exhibition is a collection of his newest series of collages, using a combination of aluminium foil and black ink. This is a slight change from his usual style in that it is a collection, in marked difference to previous exhibitions of his work, these are uniform pieces. Painted in black ink on paper, each drawing is embellished with silver aluminium foil giving an almost clinical feel, but they certainly have the Christoph Niemann dry quirky sense of humour, putting a little twist in an image you’d never normally make an association with. He has great skill in making images using negative spaces, forcing your brain to work a little bit, just enough to give you a small buzz of satisfaction when you make the connection.
Christoph Niemann is a favourite illustrator of mine. His work has donned the covers of the New Yorker, The New York Times magazine, Wired and many more. He has sketched the 26.1 miles of the New York City Marathon and live sketched at the Olympic Games in London 2012.
He has featured in the ‘Abstract’ series on Netflix, which give a brilliant insight into the man himself, he is openly and candidly insecure about his work, it seems we all carry that coat.
Christoph Niemann has quite a few published books including the brilliant Sunday Sketching and Abstract Sunday. The collection of work in these books use simple lines and everyday objects to bring humour or absurdity in an almost poetic way never ceases to inspire me.
“This might be the most important skill you can have as an artist: Open your mind as wide as you can and check out every connection between any two elements. Most of these experiments yield nothing, but somewhere in this ocean of meaningless gibberish, something might click.” – Christoph Niemann, Sketching Sundays (2016)
When I look at his work, it always reminds me that sometimes, less, really can be more. It has certainly been his influence, to cause me to remember to take a step back and look on my work, strip back my busy lines and think how I might impart the story more effectively.
Alongside these collages pieces Christoph Niemann is entering new territory with a group of video works. The video works are, I can only describe as quite a surreal experience. He has taken many short films of everyday moments, for example, a tractor driving across a field, then cut, mirrors, duplicates to produce a challenging viewing experience. Although this is a new visual medium for Christoph Niemann, it is still his process to make use of mundane objects and with a few simple shifts he manages to create completely different perception.