Rolf Thiele on the pictures of Nicola Hanke

What exactly does Nicola Hanke show us in her pictures? We know what we see, at least, we think we do, if it wasn’t for the detail, the cut-out. This is a characteristic of a picture within conventional art, it is a detail. It is a frozen element of a fluid, constantly-changing reality. This is another reason why they say that a picture is not what it depicts and does not depict what it depicts. Nicola Hanke obviously takes pains to keep the difference between photography and painted pictures to an absolute minimum. One of her earlier pictures shows an everyday textile throw. The patterned fabric allows little light through; the impact is not of the shown, but the hidden. The gaze is seized at first by the tangible, solid, exact craft, but then is distracted by what is not shown.

The first step in every aesthetic experience, that from the object to the implicit, is facilitated and taken, thus making possible the experience of an interstitial space where meaning is defined by interpretation. Painting in an artistic context is handled through a strategy of negation. Exposing through covering, the same goes for the subject as for art and painting itself. An affirmation of painting and the represented objects is upset and dissolved in negation.

Why does the unshown present itself here as art? The aesthetic/artistic effect takes hold as the relationship between showing and hiding becomes part of the consciousness. In this way questions are raised on art itself. The aesthetic is the gaining of a visual impression of something to be questioned, but that can also be overseen as banal and worthless. What at first seems to be an everyday tablecloth painted in a hyper-realistic, almost photographic, style, later builds an impression of private involvement. A relationship is established between an object and its subject, something that can be defined as an individual meaning, or an ordering of interpretation.

The painted cloth stops holding the viewers gaze and therefore leaves the realm of its and the paintings everyday nature, instead entering a kind of self-induced uniqueness. Interpretation renders the everyday objects, the special generality, art, and therefore makes the common special. This kind of interpretation takes precedent especially when the displayed objects reject an obvious justification. The pictures of Nicola Hanke do not follow the principal of special work, but of interpretation. She works with the phenomenon of the everyday world and transforms it so that it has an entitlement to be special. She doesn’t produce new things, to be viewed with everyday eyes, but new ways to see the everyday. In this way she causes the viewer to alter their perspectives. She transmits, perhaps knowingly, that we only see what is facing us. When we then look at something in this way it is impossible to remain uninvolved. I am pushed into a state of awareness, one I would compare to self-awareness.

RT Mai 2008