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Lilian Haberer

time is the longest distance

on Talisa Lallai & Markus Saile



Looks go through surfaces, cut through semi-transparent layers, follow textures without grip. Moreover, one tries to follow the effects created by light, action, emulsion and painting mediums in the paintings. Movements of the eyes and your senses will be activated in the exhibition time is the longest distance by Talisa Lallai and Markus Saile. Due to the fact that the photographic and artistic works are diaphane, therefore transparent: Their structures and colour levels are overlaying, but at the same time remain visible. The term diaphane stems from the architectural field and describes a progression of layers and spaces, which become translucent through the light. Maurice Merleau-Ponty emphasises in Eye and Mind, that the body in an artistic process, unites conflicting moments, which are projected from the production of the paintings on to the visitors in the gallery. These include the active part of seeing and movement as well as the passive movement and visibility, which is precisely what Lallai and Saile reflect in their artistic practice both via various mediums and their work on the paintings, which develops with and in time.


Talisa Lallai, born 1989 in Frankfurt/Main, who lives in Dusseldorf uses photo material from private photo albums she encounters at flea markets, which she finally scans. By this she generates a distance to the photo’s patina and its materiality, through signs of aging, also with regard to its history by turning from a personal into a historically and culturally documented photo: like the classic Egyptian motive The Pyramids sound lonely tonight (2017), which she printed as a broadsheet on newsprint, like a tiara of the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun. Whilst turning an analog shot into a digital one in a small format, framed in dark oak wood, Lallai preserves the photography in its state and make it accessible as an aesthetic and nostalgic motive in the exhibition. The various time levels captured in the image, become comprehensible in the process of finding, choosing and reproducing through mechanical scanning. Lallai has chosen travel views for the exhibition in the Halgand Gallery, which only imply excavations as well as an Egyptian context and highlight the translucence. More decisive however are the colour changes which have developed over time as well as abstract-plastic shapes, caused by mold and mildew, which have become part of the photographic surface. Besides the recognisable picture elements other structures are added to the caption therefore adding a new tactile level: In Mold(Blue) from 2017 one can see cross-overs or cave structures. These are now part of the archaeology of the image, which tell the story of the destructive impact on the photographic object besides the photographic lighting. In this they develop an own, expressionistic and abstract sensuality.

Compared with the photographic works of Talisa Lallai which can be equally seen as time documents as well as indicators of the decay process, the painting of Markus Saile, born 1981 in Stuttgart, who now lives in Cologne one recognises distinct periods of time of editing of his image carriers made from plywood or MDF. Due to the matt surface one can only guess the dense undercoat and the endless sequence of thin glazed layers. On the other hand the fluidity and movement of the through painting material liquified paint, as well as the traces of editing form tracks into the material, which appear as time actions just like in the photos. The opaque but also light background of the painting develops into the venue for various revisions, which have firstly arisen in layers and which have been covered, later washed out, polished and sanded, which let different states emerge at the same time. With this subtle technique these small and medium format works of art immediately address the the visitors. Some works, like the vertical format and horizontal format (both Untitled, 2016), reveals to recognise a frontality similar to the display. Jan Verwoert has also described this quality for the American colour-field painting. By condensing the image edges through undercoat, which emphasises the format, a contrast to the living surface emerges, which gives these works the appearance of analog screens. The specifics of the painting technique subside like in a photographic Close-Up in favour of the colour texture and -reflexion, similar to the colour experiment works of Wolfgang Tillmans. The All-Over-Effect, which is already commonly utilised in the abstract expressionism, is used experimentally by Markus Saile by compressing the edges and the by the fluidity of the surface: He opens his picture spaces to a visually vibrating membrane.

Whilst Talisa Lallai’s photo works emphasise the development of independence of shapes and colour-overlay to abstraction like Mold(Blue) und Mold(Pink) (2017), Markus Saile’s works have an opposite tendency: structure and shape develop due to the own movement of the colour and are therefore abstract. Due to the overlay of clayey glazes, coincidental processes and light accents, like in the horizontal format Untitled (2016), one can associate the textures of the diaphane overlaying layers with cave walls with stalactites. Therefore, one has a certain proximity to colour- and structure-changing shots.


Both Lallai and Saile both work distinctively but with tactility and distancing, in their picture practices without hierarchies, the eye and movement remain in constant stimulation. Their process of image-making is not just something temporal concerning the production but also with regard to historically found, newly-edited material, with which they enter into various spaces. The title of the show - time is the longest distance, suggests that the simultaneous contemplation of undefined length of time and of a specific period uncovers time layers (just like Reinhart Koselleck mentioned in his essay which goes by the same name), does not just let one view historical material after a certain amount of time but also reanimates the process of image-making.


Lilian Haberer

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