“Pictoplasma – White Noise” presents current artistic strategies that make use of mechanisms similar to those of commercial mascots, logos and trademarks to engage in a critique of the markets they have originated from, or to create a detached fetishized cult, with abstract mascots at its centre. The exhibition features work by mr clement, Mark Gmehling, Tim Biskup, Juan Pablo Manzelli, Osian Efnisien, Jeremyville, Geneviève Gauckler, Craig Redman, Bakea, Amandine Urruty, Buff Monster, El Grand Chamaco, Ian Stevenson, Aaron Leighton, Raymond Lemstra, Sauerkids, Slumber Bean, Kurt Seperately, Juan Molinet, as well as co-curated installations and segments by Wooster Collective, Selim Varol and the Pictoplasma Archives.
El Grand Chamaco
vs. CHARACTER APOPHENIA
Images trigger emotions. Especially characters, as they seem to look straight back at us, evoke maximal empathy. Their abstract and schematic facial patterns are of universal appeal, cut through the daily Visual White Noise – and allow us to project all our personal longings onto them.
At the same time Images communicate. Especially characters, iconic visual identities that are abstract and reduced, deliver the message. They catch our attention and address us directly, cut through the daily Visual White Noise – and speak a graphical language that surpasses cultural differences and language boundaries.
Marketing and branding have learned this lesson and emerged at the turn to the 20th century to release a true avalanche of branded characters to sell their goods: anthropomorphic stacks of tires, creatures on cereal boxes, ecstatically smiling clowns nurtured on fast food, or oversized inflated tigers occupying the rooftops of gasoline stations. What distinguishes all these consumerist mascots and brand logos from their counter-parts in cartoons and comics is that they are non-narrative and stylistically iconic to guarantee immediate recognition value. They don’t depend on any story or biography, are embracing and open – and astonishingly resistant to persist over time, even if the products they once represented have long since changed fundamentally.
The exhibition examines current creations by graphic artists and designers that highjack, amplify or subvert the exact same principles. Some artists choose to deconstruct, reference or remix established mascots of our collective consciousness. The characters take the viewer from the known to the strange, play with feelings of recognition and irritation, familiarity and confusion.
Other artists aim to create a new identity with a value of its own. In times of a constant visual battle for attention, these artists are striving to establish characters with strong recognition value, as Master-Signifier with nothing to reference. Having cut the ropes to any product they might stand for, they celebrate a cult of their own, a concealed status detached from our world, an independent fetish that wants to be admired.