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17 Sep 2013

Gemma Anderson: Isomorphology – Riddles of Form at Galerie Thore Krietemeyer, Berlin

Fano varities - Calabi-Yau Composite, 2012
Cooper etching, hand dyed and painted
with japanese inks
h 32 x 30 cm

Gemma Anderson:
Isomorphology – Riddles of Form
Galerie Thore Krietemeyer


Opening Preview:
Wednesday, September 18, 2013, 5 PM
Opening Reception / Gallery Late Night:
Friday, September 20, 2013, 6 - 9 PM
Artist Talk:
Sunday, September 22, 2013, 12 PM Gemma Anderson and Johanna Zinecker
As a part of abc – art berlin contemporary and BERLIN ART WEEK (Sept. 17 – 22, 2013)


+49 (0)30 81 79 81 - 66
+49 (0)30 81 79 81 - 67

Galerie Thore Krietemeyer
(between U-1 Hallesches Tor and U-1/ U-7 Möckernbrücke)
Großbeerenstraße 83
10963 Berlin

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With Isomorphology – Riddles of Form, the Gallery Thore Krietemeyer in Berlin presents the first solo exhibition of the British artist, Gemma Anderson, in Germany. In new works of the ongoing, same-titled work complex, Anderson continues her examination of drawing as a method of knowledge production. She further develops her subtle and critical analysis of scientific knowledge regimes with new experiments in form and material. Etchings, ceramic, textile and paper sculptures, as well as drawings will be on view. As the fundamental medium, drawing is central to the whole of Anderson's artistic research process and is also relevant to the collaborative efforts between the artist and scientists, which take on a crucial role in Anderson's work.

Anderson's oeuvre presents a longstanding study of the forms of the so-called 'natural' world and the scientific, researching perspective thereof. Following the seemingly historicised visual techniques of the natural sciences, as is characteristic of the fields of medicine, botany and zoology, earlier works explored the typologisation-oriented visualisation practices of the medical sciences. With Against Nature: Skin or Portraits: Patients and Psychiatrists (both 2010), Anderson established unusual bridges between humans, animals and nature. In her dreamy pieces, drawings that seem almost lost in reverie, she guided seemingly forgotten stories and knowledge back into the picture.

In connection with and in discussion of fundamental operational principles of science (e.g. classification, observation, representation and experimentation), Anderson uses the practice of drawn morphological notation to develop observation, perception and experimentation with drawing as the central pillars of her work. Anderson's approach ties in especially with J.W. Goethe's concept of morphology, which understands the natural form as a dynamic process and thereby already implies the cultural conditions for the detection of forms, techniques and instruments of seeing. The critical deliberations of the Scottish scientist D'Arcy W. Thompsons (On Growth and Form, 1917) and his studies of the formal-structural similarities of biology and mathematics are constant sources of inspiration to Anderson's practice.

Through the method of Isomorphology, forms of the world are organised anew on the basis of their observed similarities. The structure of Anderson's isomorphological alphabet enables the trans-boundary and unconventional establishment of relationships between the species and forms of the animal, mineral, plant kingdoms and the mathematical world. Works from this alphabet on seven basic forms, including hexagons, spirals and hyperbolic forms, are shown in the exhibition. Thereby, regularities of conventional knowledge are reflected upon and critically scrutinised as cultural constructs. Anderson's aesthetic application of a scientific perspective contributes to the exposure of discontinuities and propagates a new way of seeing.

Anderson's work nourishes itself from the full belief in the potential of art to truly interact with other areas of life. Having worked closely with natural history museums and collections over a long period of time, Anderson locates herself within the field of the natural sciences. As a result, her works guarantee a modern approach to interdisciplinarity. This view implies the dynamic and equal interaction of art and science, in which the latter is prompted to question itself anew and to expand itself to include artistic approaches.

In this process, Anderson's role as a researching artist is complex. It is not only a matter of adapting scientific methods for one's own artistic work. More so, her projects display the multilayered nature of the function of artistic work in a scientific context. Mathematical objects that have previously only existed virtually, for example, are transferred through artistic approaches to processes of visualisation and design, as can be seen in the Bauhaus-inspired sculpture and etching series, Fano Varieties (2012).

Similarly, the textile works, which also resulted from collaborative efforts (with Fiona Sperryn, Falmouth University), are visualisations of the knotting of the DNA double helix. With this, Anderson does not only consciously connect with the techniques and aesthetic discourses of modern design and its practical orientation. She also makes reference to the influence of mathematics on modern art, as it manifests itself in cubism or futurism, for example. In cooperation with the mathematician Alessio Corti (Imperial College London), Anderson realised 4D visualisations, a process that resulted in the delicate etchings of octa- and tetrahedral structures shown in the exhibition. The structures remind of crystals and seem to float weightlessly and yet sharp-edged in the pictorial space.

If one, in view of morphology (a dying doctrine and practice in today's molecular oriented natural sciences), understands Anderson's work as a gesture of containment and revival of seemingly obsolete visual techniques, the value of the collaboration between the artist and scientists becomes apparent. One room of the exhibition is dedicated entirely to collaborative drawings. In the field of artistic research, the functionalisation of art is often subject to a controversial debate in Germany. In the exhibition, this is presented in a new light, as the demand for the truth and meaning of art for life itself is common to Anderson's works. Paradoxically, she adopts an almost romantic position. This especially, invokes the classic functions of the pictorial form: a questioning of the world, information, representation, the creation of something new and the astonishment of the viewer.

With the equally poetic and investigative exploration of the boundaries of our seemingly objective organised knowledge, Isomorphology is both aesthetic work and a method that invites us to adopt new perspectives on the all too familiar.

Gemma Anderson (*1981, Belfast, lives and works between London and Cornwall) has won several awards, including the Leverhulme Artists in Residence Award 2012-13, residency at Acme Studios Fire Station in London, Engineering and Physical Science Research Council Award 2011, Wellcome Trust Arts Award 2009, RHA Thomas Dammann Award 2009, Arts Council Purchase Award 2009 and Man Group Drawing Prize Winner (Royal College of Art) 2007. Anderson's work is held in the collections of the V&A Museum, Natural History Museum London, Wellcome Trust and Royal College of Art. Since 2011, Anderson is a PhD candidate at the University of the Arts in London, where she has developed the Isomorphology project as part of her graduate research.

For more information and visual material, please feel free to contact the gallery at any time:
Text: Johanna Zinecker, Berlin
Translation: Neele Reimann-Philipp, Berlin

WIth the kind support of: