18/05/2021 – 01/06/2021,

Epilog: Sarah Buckner, Head over Heels

, Projektraum von Westfälischem Kunstverein und LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur


Sarah Buckner, Kinderhaus, 2021, Oil on linen, 81 x 73 cm


Epilog marks the last chapter of a year in the now beloved ’’Hütte.’’ Describing a moment of reflection, of pausing and looking back, as well as of departure, Epilog is itself a sequence of diverse chapters. As a series of four solo exhibitions, it offers a glimpse into the approach of each artist, their working practices, visual and material worlds. With new works ranging from sculpture to installation to painting, from research-based processes to explorations of narratives and popular culture, the four Residence NRW⁺ grant holders – Jasmin Werner, Sarah Buckner, Sami Schlichting and Pablo Schlumberger – negotiate the particularities of the Projektraum of LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur and Westfälischer Kunstverein as a means of reflecting on the material and discursive frameworks of their own practice. What conditions underlie it, what conditions does it presuppose? Incorporating the specific spatiality and window frontage of the exhibition space, this series of solos also engages with the idea of what it means for their work to be on display under current circumstances. Each chapter is accompanied by an event conceived as a response to or continuation of the practice of the artist in question.

The first lines of Émile Zola’s Thérése Raquin read like this: “At the end of the Rue Guenegaud, coming from the quays, you find the Arcade of the Pont Neuf, a sort of narrow, dark corridor running from the Rue Mazarine to the Rue de Seine. This arcade, at the most, is thirty paces long by two in breadth. It is paved with worn, loose, yellowish tiles which are never free from acrid damp. The square panes of glass forming the roof, are black with filth.”

Thérése Raquin was Zola’s refining of a new literary genre, where climate, or the feeling of climate as an expression of an unbridled, devoid of morals nature, formed the framework for his character’s evolution and action. Taking from this genealogy of atmosphere-driven persona, contemporary author and experimental musician Jenny Hval explores a similar motif in Paradise Rot. In this short novel, Hval builds a climate that imbues human relations and their evolution into the world, to tell the story of an organic fungible erotic moral, intimate yet undefined.

If I talk about literature and not Sarah’s painting just yet, it’s because the pieces presented here were made in the same times as those from another series of works which derives from the reading of, among others, Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. As the pandemic reached inside our everyday lives, distancing us from normality and bringing with it a vocabulary of contamination, invisible threat and destabilization of intimacy, it’s in novels that Sarah found material for L’invitation au voyage. Head over Heels, produced in parallel, appears as a formal digestion of the making-of-an-atmosphere as narration practice of the mundane, alienating pandemic-Kinderhaus.

Indeed, the paintings shown in the context of Epilog contrast with her previous body of work. In nuances of brownish red–Münster suburbs’ bricks–or green and blue of the humid landscape of a summer afternoon, they replace earlier dreamlike fantasies conjured by uncanny couplings of motifs with the airy feeling of a damp, penetrating climate. Like in Hval’s stories, Buckner’s subjects float, spread and disseminate in close tones to the landscape, unsure of the direction they are taking. The sculptures complementing this scenery–a first in her usually bidimensional oeuvre–function both as archives of the mundane Kinderhaus farm landscape and as ex-votos. The appearance of a material, graspable motif tells us about a wish–that borders on existential necessity–to capture something tangible, unfleeting, that contrasts with the paintings’ flimsy, blurring tones.

But my point would be missed if I was to describe Sarah’s painting as an echo of literature. The scene she offers us in this exhibition eliminates words or the necessity to forge a tellable understanding. Using dampness, a slight eroticism, and immediate intimacy, she embraces an organic manner of making meaning, of which words, mine included, are just scratching the surface. And through the space uncovered by my fingernails, you might get a glimpse into one possible search for a position, an identity within an affective, unsettled world.

Text: Julie Robiolle

Sarah Buckner (born in 1984 in Frankfurt, Germany), studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Palermo and at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. She lives and works in Cologne and in Münster. Sarah Buckner is a storyteller. In the past, her image world was fed by multiple sources: real-life encounters, the dreams that sprang from them, books, and films. Thinking in paint, and through painting, Buckner has developed an intuitive and fluid approach that transforms these impressions through her material practice. Feeling both open-ended and precisely observed, her figures appear to emerge from a fully formed life of which we can catch a momentary glimpse. Bearing traces of the artist’s life—reading, dreaming, imagining—some paintings are lighthearted for reasons we may not know, other images may come across as portraying moments of anxiety, confusion, or hope. To Buckner the world with all its experiences—literary or otherwise—functions as a poetic springboard. Unafraid of the vulnerability inherent in image making and unconcerned by the need to make us understand exactly what makes an image meaningful to her, Buckner’s paintings develop through her practice, feeling, listening, exploring, painting. In 2020, Buckner was awarded the Residence NRW⁺ grant, and will present her work at the Westfällischer Kunstverein in Münster at the conclusion of the residency period. Buckner’s works have been shown in solo and group shows across Europe and North America. Notable group exhibitions include: ¬Salon des Amateures, Tramps, London (2018), Lia Pasqualino Noto / Casa Studio, curated by Geraldine Blais, Manifesta 12, Palermo (2018); Guanto, Institut für Bienenzucht, Cologne (2018); 1001 Bild, Villa de Bank, Enschede (2018); Beyond the Stage, Canongate Venture, Edinburgh (2013).

A joint project with:

The exhibition is supported by: