This first institutional solo exhibition of the painter Armin Boehm [*1972], which is taking place at the Kunstverein Braunschweig from June 27–August 30, 2009, seems to be long overdue. The Berlin-based artist became known through his contributions to group exhibitions such as Made in Germany (2007, Kunstverein Hannover) or Back to Black (2008, kestnergesellschaft, Hannover).
In his portraits, interiors, and landscapes, Boehm uses a technique in which he combines media such as glaze, drippings, metal dust, and thickly applied oil. He initially formulates his pictorial elements in natural coloration. Layer by layer the palette becomes darker. Ultimately, only isolated sparks of shimmering color attest to the polychrome ground.
Yet Armin Boehm’s works are not only multilayered in terms of form; their content is just as profound, indeed ambiguous. Because the painting process—a constant adding and eliminating—is, as it were, also a mirror of his interest in presence and absence, the material and the metaphysical, the figurative and transcendence and their transitions. It is precisely these scientific and human intermediate states that Boehm examines in his pictorial work: it is about border zones that walk the line between science and parascience, religion and occultism.
Boehm’s interiors are sometimes inspired by ritually charged spaces; the models for his landscape paintings are aerial views of military bases, terror camps, or research centers. The artist pursues mathematical and physical phenomena in his depictions of planetary space—comets or constellations of stars. One even encounters central figures from the field of astronomy in his portraits, a discipline in which the fundamental metaphysical interest of scientific research reveals itself in a particularly lucid way. Ultimately, it is about the explanation of existence, which time and again is doomed to failure. As the physicist Werner Heisenberg so aptly formulated it: “The first sip from the cup of science leads to atheism, but God is waiting at the bottom of the cup.”
As of late, Boehm’s works have increasingly included abstract forms as well. Geometric shapes out of metal foil have in part been integrated into his paintings and lend many of them an almost alchemistic appearance; now and then, abstract pictures also develop within the context of figurative series. Another one of his concerns is to expose the connection between the art of modernity and spiritualism. Because when established religions became less important within the scope of the avant-garde’s process of secularization in the early twentieth century, parareligious, occult, and esoteric teachings became all the more influential. Theosophy and anthroposophy, for example, also exercised a great amount of influence on the development of abstract art. An aspect that has fallen into oblivion which Boehm’s works look into in a subtle way.
A comprehensive catalogue (German/English) is being published on the occasion of the exhibition that includes an interview with Sarah Frost as well as contributions by, among others, Martin Engler, Gregor Jansen, Veit Loers, Gabriele Sand, and Hilke Wagner.