ZEN THEM TO HELL
September 16 – October 15, 2022
Nino Mier Gallery, Los Angeles
Nino Mier Gallery is pleased to announce ZEN THEM TO HELL, an exhibition of typewritten landscape drawings by German artist Arno Beck. Our first solo show with the artist, the presentation furthers Beck’s investigations of the formal language and analog production of digital aesthetics. New works on paper will be on view from September 16 – October 15, 2022 in Los Angeles.
In ZEN THEM TO HELL, the digital image occupies an unusual status: subject matter, not medium. Within each work, a vast landscape sits below a pixelated cloud, like those found in low-resolution early video games such as Super Mario Bros. Two aesthetic experiences collide: first, the preponderance of landscape imagery available to computer users which renders the Romantic, kitschy; and second, the geometric abstraction of 8-bit graphics and low-tech augmented reality.
The new works in ZEN THEM TO HELL are composed of symbols impressed by a typewriter, some of which are overwritten to achieve greater saturation and depth. When viewed at a distance, Beck’s greyscale landscapes verge on photorealism. While approaching the works, the impression of deep space gives way to an awareness of its constituent parts. Hundreds of lines of text encode the larger image like cells to a body.
Beck types the works himself, a labor-intensive, time-consuming process, decelerating the speed with which we can create and access images on computers and the internet. Producing each painting line by line from top to bottom, his images are formed the same way jpegs are built up through pixels on a computer screen. To imbue the work with a more painterly surface, Beck inks the typewriter’s color ribbons himself with an oil-based color, allowing for the ink to bleed, suggesting the artist’s hand. Furthermore, as an analog medium, the typewritten image is prone to typos, but the artist welcomes such errors, as they impart an aura of the handmade on what otherwise might seem to be an image of digital flatness.
Beck has long worked through translating a phenomenology of screens and digitality into painting. Earlier works mimic the broad, pixelated gestures that defined the look of early computer drawings, while others reproduce the smoother, more aquatic forms made possible by more recent image rendering softwares. But even in the latter works, Beck incorporates the grid as the underlying formal logic of the screen-based experience. By using analog methods to create his compositions, he works in a recent tradition of Post-Internet artists who take as their subject matter experiences of digital indexicality, the internet’s infinitude of content, and new aesthetic experiences enabled by computers.
Arno Beck (b. 1985, Bonn; lives and works in Bonn) studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf under Prof. Eberhard Havekost. His recent exhibitions include Galeria Fran Reus, Palma de Mallorca; Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf; Museum Sinclair Haus, Bad Homburg; DAM Gallery, Berlin; Mariam Cramer Projects, Amsterdam; Ruttkowski; 68, Cologne; Galerie König, Berlin; Galerie Schierke Seinecke, Frankfurt; and Galerie Falko Alexander, Cologne, among others.