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Herrmann Germann Contemporary is delighted to announce the first solo exhibition of German artist Sebastian Utzni. Utzni is a story collector and storyteller, and a visual artist working between and across various disciplines. He is said to represent ‹media flânerie› — for as he tirelessly scours town and country, his observations offer him subjects and materials for contemplation, self-reflection, and narration. Utzni gives equal weight to the most and least prominent. His Werke aus der Sammlung A.H. (2009) (re)painted and (re)arranged works from Adolf Hitler’s art collection on a scale of 1:10 — for instance, placing Pettenkofen’s gypsy girl between a humdrum bunch of flowers and Böcklin’s Isle of the Dead. Utzni’s working principle is well-illustrated by All Bridges from Castletownbere to Dublin (2010), a conceptual visual diary. It documents the many impressions he gathered while wandering across Ireland in black-and-white woodcuts. «On balance, I believe that everything is probably connected. I am not searching directly for a single world formula, but instead I am trying to make sense of all these connections.»

Reconstructing the invisible: Khalil-Bey (1831–1879), a Turkish-Egyptian diplomat, commissioned and owned Jean Désiré Gustave Courbet’s L’Origine du Monde (The Origin of the World). As an outstanding figure of Le Tout Paris, the affluent and fashionable elite of Paris, Khalil-Bey had a marvellous art collection, which was almost entirely devoted to the female body. Gambling debts forced him to sell the collection, after which the fate of Courbet’s painting, its various appearances and disappearances over the passage of time, is unknown. Until it came to be placed in the entrance hall of the Musée d’Orsay in 1995, at a time when it was owned by the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, the painting had remained almost completely concealed from public view. Removed from sight, Courbet’s retinal painting could thus not act upon the visual sense for several generations, but instead was left to be conjured up in the imagination and thought for many decades. Measuring 46x55 cm, this work is the starting point for Utzni’s foray into history. The myth treated here centres on the visible or rather the invisible, and the repetition and reproductions of reproductions of reproductions and their specific contexts.

(Press release © Herrmann Germann Contemporary 2013)