Spanking-new, silver-chrome letters reading “Kochstr. 60” mark the entrance to the gallery cluster situated at Rudi-Dutschke-Straße 26 that includes Jablonka Galerie. The gallery needs as little introduction as the artists it shows: Mike Kelley, Andy Wahrhol, David La Chapalle, Nobuyoshi Araki and now James Rosenquist. Although much of the work is probably sold before the exhibition opening, the gallery’s exhibitions often disappoint curatorially, which reaffirms the suspicion that a successful gallery will not always have good exhibitions.
In a very traditional manner, the ten overly colourful, large-scale canvases line the walls of the gallery. Bearing the pseudo-intellectual title „The Hole in the Center of Time“, this series continues the same trend as the artist’s previous series Speed of Light; a movement away from consumer-cultural realism towards kitsch-abstraction. What announces itself as a quasi-theoretical exploration of time – via semi-abstract painting – is little but a boring enumeration of hackneyed themes. There are melting clocks and spinning, mirrored discs, which clearly point to certain works in art-history, but fail to substantially engage in any rewarding dialogue with the past. Sadly, the works fall short of fulfilling our expectations.
The surface is smooth and the mirrored discs spin incessantly, catching our gaze but not our attention (which remains puzzled by the title of the exhibition and its relevance to this series of works).
Admittedly, there are clocks depicted in every scene, but does this warrant the images to be seriously considered as investigations into the notion of temporality? In any case, the perception of temporality – which is not the same as the perception of a clock (!) – needs to be taken into consideration; and this, we have learnt from Henri Bergson, is duration.
However, Rosenquist’s work is definitely still evolving. His move away from Pop toward abstraction has rejuvenated his style, yet his reluctancy to fully employ figures devoid of obvious meaning signalizes a deep mistrust, which he will have to slough off if he is to master the abstract. For now, the exhibition functions as a beacon and preamble to the high king of kitsch, who is expected in Berlin at the end of the month: Jeff Koons.
„The Hole in the Center of Time“
James Rosenquist „Night Numbers“, 2008 (© Courtesy Jablonka Galerie)