KÖNIG presents the international group exhibition THE ARTIST IS ONLINE. PAINTING AND SCULPTURE IN THE POSTDIGITAL AGE curated by Anika Meier and Johann König. In the gallery around 70 works are shown by 50 artists, who are at home on social media. In the media of painting and sculpture, they react to the mechanisms of the attention economy and to technological innovations. They digitize painting, visualize data sets and reflect the mobility of images.
Art critic Isabelle Graw writes that today’s new found interest in painting – has it ever gone away? – can be explained by internet platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. In her essay “The Value of Liveliness” Graw notes: “I believe that painting is particularly well positioned in such a society because it gives the impression of being in life of the author.” After artists have used Instagram to perform over the past ten years, painting now is able to redeem what social media has triggered: the longing for limitless individuality. Which is what it's all about on the screen: the pursuit of individuality and indulging in consumption accompanied by a greed for attention.
For the generation of artists born around 1990, painting in the post-digital age has become a mashup of art-historical references, most evidently, when the styles of the Old Masters, Surrealism, Pop Art and Post-Internet Art are sampled. The result is portraits of people, bodies and animals that lose themselves in pathetic poses. Femininity is deconstructed (Sarah Slappey, Rosie Gibbens) and masculinity is over-performed (Pascal Möhlmann, Evgen Copi Gorisek). The cult of self-expression is celebrated (Chris Drange) and consumerism is exhibited (Oli Epp, Travis Fish).
While content-related access to painting in the post-digital age is one possibility, formal access via the integration of technology is another. Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence can all be used to digitise painting. Ai-Da is a humanoid robot and an artist who arguably proves that an artificial intelligence can produce a creative achievement. According to her creator, the gallery owner and art dealer Aidan Meller, that means creating works that are new, surprising and have value. She has cameras in her eyes and paints and draws what she sees. Is Ai-Da creative? Is her art good? And is the question of whether her art is good even relevant? The French artist Ben Elliot meanwhile creates PERFECT PAINTINGS generated by software based on data about the most popular contemporary works, while American Gretchen Andrew hacks Google to fulfil her wishes and dreams: a cover story in Artforum, winning the Turner Prize, participating in Art Basel Miami Beach and now an auction record.