Nogah Engler/Peter Stauss: New works on paper
Nov 26 2005 - Jan 21 2006


Ritter/Zamet is pleased to present a two-person exhibition of new works on paper by Berlin-based artist Peter Stauss and Israeli Chelsea College of Art graduate, Nogah Engler. Although they are rooted within divergent artistic directions and conceptual requisites, both Engler and Stauss share a fundamental position as painters who also employ the medium of drawing to create a hybrid language between the painted brushstroke and the graphic trace of the pencil or ink drawn line.  Both create elaborate and intensely complex works on paper that exist as singular, compelling artworks in their own right while also providing an added insight into the methodological process and compositional structures that make up their painted canvases.  

Nogah Engler’s haunting grisaille landscapes probe the tenuous line between the idyllic and its dissolution, simultaneously depicting classical beauty and its ultimate negation. This paradox is manifested through fragmented zones of intricate graphite marks and subtle, rhythmic graduations of tone set against broad open voids of blank space and crude splashes of water-based colour.  Engler pushes the pencil to its limits, rigorously re-inventing the layered strata of her coloured oils in shades of grey and exposing the underlying contradictions and rich variations of this monochromatic discipline.

For her first show at Ritter/Zamet, Engler presents a new series of drawings drawn in part from her journey into the heartland of the frozen Ukraine last winter to trace her ancestral history and the place where her father and grandfather were in hiding during World War II.  Yet any specific or symbolic allusions to a place or time are seamlessly interweaved within a composite illusory space allowing each drawing to evoke its own ubiquitous narratives, references and suggestions.

Peter Stauss creates uncomfortable fables for our times. Deriving imagery from a cross-section of ideological, historical, religious and art-historical themes, he discerningly de-masks the intrepid ideals of our era to expose an underlying hypocritical conscience. His cast of bizarre, recurring characters spanning saints to soldiers, bedraggled revolutionaries, dope-smoking hippies and dislocated historical figures embody a general sense of self pity in the face of socio-political lethargy and stagnation and yet they frustrate any truly didactic meaning through shifts of context or displaced narratives.

With this most recent group of large-scale coloured watercolours and black-and-white ink drawings, Stauss continues to refine his formal and compositional virtuosity to create works that are tightly erudite, intimate and condensed. There is less emphasis on the tonal washes of past works on paper allowing more focus on precisely drawn, graphically defined figures set within a more arcane and compressed picture plane.  

Since 1999, Peter Stauss has had regular solo exhibitions with galleries in Germany. In 2000, he showed with fellow painter, Thomas Scheibitz at LOOP in Berlin and his work was included in Peep Show: a glimpse of the Frank Cohen Collection, in Manchester in 2003. Last year, he had his first solo exhibition in the UK at Ritter/Zamet and his paintings were included in the exhibition, Happy Days are Here Again at David Zwirner Gallery, New York.  He will have his first solo exhibition in New York at the Klemens Gasser and Tanja Grunert Gallery in March next year.