Peles Empire and Oliver Osborne Empire/Osborne
Empire/Osborne is an exhibition by the Berlin-based artists Peles Empire and Oliver Osborne. For both artists, this show represents the largest presentation of their works in the United States, to date.
In 2005, Peles Empire began their collaboration by opening an illegal bar in Frankfurt’s red light district. The space featured wallpaper made of A3 color copies reproducing, nearly to scale, a room from the 19th Century Peles Castle, located in the foothills of Romania’s Carpathian Mountains. Peles Castle is a historicism castle, as each room is a copy of a different architectural style – an Elizabethan banqueting hall will lead to a Florentine music room and then onto a Rococo study. That these rooms were built by local craftsmen with little knowledge of the original style or techniques produced a very specific form of mistranslation, representing a pre-industrial simulacra, which appears to anticipate post-modernism nearly one hundred and twenty years before the event.
The same act of copying or translation that birthed the Peles Castle carries over to the artist’s own approach to studio production. What is realized in three-dimensions for one exhibition, becomes two-dimensional source material for the next period of production. In this exhibition, Peles Empire explores the possibilities of illusion with new works that use Jesmonite, carpet, rope, and UV printing. The transition of material from 3D to 2D is simultaneously the content and material for their work. Carpets printed with scenes from the studio – a trompe-l’oeil effect of arrangements paused in mid-production – are works in which the by-product of one phase of production becomes the integral content for another work. The process becomes, temporarily, the work. The act of copying is more important than the copy itself.
Oliver Osborne uses the languages that we recognize as belonging to painting (the materials, the imagery, the mode of address) as a method to look at painting’s constraints, opportunities, and contradictions. This approach often results in considered shifts in scale or process, which is borne from a studio practice that attempts to stretch as far as possible the connections between different modes of making. Shown here are new works using techniques that combine oil painting, silkscreen, and his most complicated use of machine-embroidery yet. The source material for these works is disparate – a German textbook page, bread, a ‘spot’ cartoon of a terrier, or a Savoy cabbage. Connecting all of them, however, is the speed at which they can oscillate between the general and the personal, or between the abstract and figurative.
Both artists make transparent an interest in the mechanics of production, translation, and illusion. In certain cases, a connection can be literally drawn between motifs like breadcrumbs or rubble, but there is also common to both artists a broader cultural interest in how objects and images change through time, dislocation, or reproduction.
Peles Empire was founded in 2005, Frankfurt. Education at the Staedelschule Frankfurt, Germany and Royal Academy Schools, London, UK. Recent Solo Exhibitions include: Kasseler Kunstverein, Kassel (2017); Wilhelm- Hack Museum, Ludwigshafen (2015); SALTS, Birsfelden (2015); GAK, Bremen (2014); Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, Stuttgart (2013); Glasgow Sculpture Studios, Glasgow (2013); Cell, London (2013). Other recent exhibitions include Skulptur Projekte Münster, Münster (2017), Made in Germany III, Hannover Kunstverein, Hannover (2017); Open House, Kunstverein Braunschweig, Braunschweig (2016); A Salon on Hybrid Things, Kunstwerke, Berlin (2015); Bundeskunsthalle Bonn (2013); Echo Release, Nassauischer Kunstverein, Wiesbaden (2013); Bold Tendencies, London (2012), Frieze Projects, London (2011). They received the Stiftung Kunstfonds Scholarship (2016); Kunststiftung Baden-Württemberg (2013); Temple-Bar Residency, Dublin (2012); Hessische Kulturstiftung (2011); Deutsche Bank Award (2009); and MAK Schindler Scholarship, Los Angeles (2007).
Oliver Osborne (b. 1985, Edinburgh) received a BA in Fine Arts from Chelsea College of Art, and a postgraduate Diploma from the Royal Academy Schools, London. Forthcoming and recent solo exhibitions include; Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn (2018); Tanya Leighton, Berlin (2017); Peles Empire, Berlin (2016); Vilma Gold, London (2016); Gió Marconi, Milan (2015); Catherine Bastide, Brussels (2015). Other recent exhibitions include Plant Scenery of the World, Inverleith House, Edinburgh (2017); Home is not a place, German Embassy, London (2017); The Written Trace, Paul Kasmin, New York (2015); The Funnies, MOT International, Brussels (2015); The Go Between, Museo di Capodimonte, Naples and Sprovieri, London (2014); Everything Falls Faster Than An Anvil, Pace Gallery, London (2014); and Bloomberg New Contemporaries, ICA, London (2012). Osborne lives and works in Berlin.
All images: Empire/Osborne, 2018. Photography courtesy of Morán Morán