Andrej Nikolai Romanov

English translation by Nico Fudge

Digital Divide Katalog, 2019

"And it moves." But where to go from here?

A twisted world makes its tracks in the media current of time. Endless data flow.

Image floods rush by with a residence time of seconds.

By appearing as massive and massive as they appear, they seem to negate themselves and make them superfluous. They have an arbitrary reproducibility, transportability, and multi-pliability.

Then something new must come from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter… stimulus flooding ?!

Do we still need pictures in the form of traditional painting? Is painting an outdated medium of the past. New-media splits and divides us from our previous world.


Concepts such as time, place and matter are re-thought. The world is shrinking. We can be anywhere anytime. And by transforming it into digitally coded characters, the real thing also loses its texture. You can not even touch it anymore. It is only available virtually. Everything is limitless, inconceivable, no longer perceptible.

We are in clouds, in digital flows, in virtual realities, but increasingly rare with both feet on earth. We lost the ground under our feet, so to speak.

Pixelation and rasterization by rhythmic coding leads to neutralization. Behind it, only very limited creative individuals can be recognized as designers. Much works dead and machine generated.

But just this fact can also be inspiring and exciting .... Is registered and used artistically.

Technical advances have always had an impact on traditional media. Just think of the invention of photography. Supposedly "The end of painting"! Instead, it has been freed and enriched to the same extent. Almost completely redefined.

Because art invents. She is the enemy of the stalemate and opponent of the existing. It motivates out of dissatisfaction with the states. That's why you always have to think about both in art. The existing and the coming. Without wanting to be avant-garde right away.

As a process, it is fundamentally unadapted to any trends. Overlaps with current phenomena happen more from a thematic need. This also applies to the artists Nick Fudge (London), Andreas Lau (Karlsruhe) and Römer + Römer (Berlin). In a broader sense, they explore the question of how their painting can absorb and interpret the new optical influences, both in a purely technical and socio-political context. Conscious and unconscious. Intuitive and calculated. Is this individually usable for her as an artist and her artistic basic idea? Or does it interfere with the necessary approach to work.


Andreas Lau's work deals very intensively with the question: What do I really see? What is behind the depicted person? What's true?

To implement this theme, he filters and dissects the image surfaces of his motifs with uniform grids, signs and dots, until the viewer literally no longer "sees through". He is forced to ask himself exactly these questions.

"... The encryption of the theme is done through a kind of filter that he puts on the events and on the one hand holds together, on the other hand, but also destroyed. Lau finds his motives when leafing through newspapers. Interesting images with special contexts are cut out and collected ... .. By imitating the existing structures with points, rectangles or lines in egg tempera he decomposes the image into signs ... ..Thus creates an objectivity in the two-dimensionality, which gives the impression in some works the faces would bulge out of the ground. The physical approach of the viewer to a painting is actually intended to recognize more. The dissolution of the representation into pure pictorial means creates an opposite effect for Andreas Lau's works. Only from a distance can one make out what is represented, in the near-vision it begins to flicker before the eyes. "(Tessa Rosebrock MA Kunsthalle Karlsruhe /" Schicht / Sicht "Painting Andreas Lau / Modo-Verlag))


Do we understand the stories that hide behind motives? Clearly "no".

Images are forged thousands of times. In the past with great effort. Today with fast digital precision. Barely recognizable. For manipulation. As a fake. As a weapon.

Digitization as technology does not make the world any safer. It becomes a more dangerous place. It has little to do with truth and "perception"!

When Lau paints a tight-laced pair on a dance floor, one usually thinks of the portrayal of two lovers. Both cling to each other in seemingly greatest devotion. Only the strangely twisted postures betray a certain disagreement. Something does not quite fit together. But what? Even the title of the work gives no explanation: "Lovers (The Dance)". That's exactly what you're supposed to see. Due to the linear screening, the resulting "picture disturbance", but this impression changes. The picture begins to swing and to question itself. Close up you even lose sight of it. What do you really see? What is behind these hanging, limp bodies? These are dancers of a so-called dance marathon in the USA of the 20s. Here, destitute people could earn some money by staying the longest while dancing without falling asleep. The two protagonists knew only fleetingly, and tried to hold on somehow. No romance. No love. For a few dollars. The viewer sees the opposite of what he means to see. With this knowledge the picture never becomes what it was before. And can never be considered as such. An innocent scene turns into the opposite. "Situations" calls this kind of ambiguous images.

Another series of pictures titled "Stills" deals specifically with the manifold possibilities and curiosities of the falsifications of realities in pictures: they

are snapshots, short shots that point beyond themselves. For example, the retouching of Trotsky from all the revolutionary and party pictures ... as if it could actually wipe him out.

A distorted, two-dimensional monitor-like surface corresponds to Laus's point of view. He does not want spatial illusions. Everything else would be already beginning lie. The blurs and rasters fit. The exact look is required. And this takes time and slows down. And thereby counteracts the speed and fast pace. A filter is placed between image and reality. The picture is just a picture of the picture. Disassembly into its items. This is then compared with Chuck Close or Gerhard Richter. But apart from optical similarities, has little to do with these artists.

In addition, Lau has a penchant for old black and white photography, for archeology and early history, which creates an additional charm for his technique of screen interference, resolutions and other interferences. The portrait of the first "Modern Man (Homo Sapiens Sapiens)" skips this fast times analogous to some 10,000 years. A journey through time with almost digital speed ... It can literally happen so fast.


A completely different approach to the term "new media" can be found at Römer + Römer. Her primary interest is in the great festivals of youth culture, such as the Fusion Festival or gigantic colorful folklore and cultural events, such as the Rio Carnival, which is bursting with color! Colorful. Loud. And playful! A feast of the many senses!

These mega-events are subjectively, but accurately, documented and recorded by you with digital cameras in thousands of pictures. Motifs suitable for them are selected, further processed on the computer and finally converted into oil painting. They are chroniclers of our time and a certain way of life: celebration of the night, colors of music, rhythm of the dance, magic of enigmas. Particularly striking in the new series of pictures for the "Burning Man" festival in the American Black Rock Desert in Nevada.

"What began modestly in 1986 as a personal healing ritual organized by Larry Harvey (1948-2018) with 20 attendees at Baker Beach in San Francisco has today become a cultural phenomenon of epic grandeur, with diverse rituals, fine art and performance. Every year, every week before Labor Day, some 70,000 people visit the salt flats of glacial Lake Lahontan in the Black Rock Desert in northwestern Nevada. "(Rachel Bowditch / Römer + Römer / Burning Man- Electric Sky / Kerber Verlag S .7)

Romans + Romans initially think their pictures in a purely painterly way and also select them according to these criteria. Your time is above all now and here. There is no past. Everything is present, at night in the most colorful light floods, digitized links and abstract color structures in the form of so-called Art Cars. It's a bit reminiscent of earlier MadMax movies. However without this aggressive basic mood. Less the event in and of itself is shown, but rather its unique color effect. The big theme is the sea of ​​lights and colors in all conceivable facets and nuances. The rest seems relatively abstract without a basic knowledge. Individually recognizable persons are almost not to be seen at all. At most as outlines. Digital fairy lights take over the function of pixelling and decomposition of the motifs in signs. Concrete. Sensibly understandable. But unreadable.

"Translated into painting, however, the analogy of pixel and single LED diode translates into another: the one between the painted color dot and the LED light, which it represents as a motif."

(Ludwig Seyfarth / Römer + Römer / Burning Man Electric Sky / Kerber Verlag p.5)

And on closer inspection, but quickly it becomes clear that this is "pure" painting. Surface, color, material. Very precise to recognize in the picture "Electric Cloud". No neutrally digitized signs, but hundreds of slightly gestural LEDs painted side by side. Such pictures are very elaborate and take. That is now readable. LEDs like lines. Brush stroke for brush stroke. That takes time and discipline. As a result, Römer + Römer counteract the fast pace of life and the associated loss of sensibility. They decelerate. It comes to rest. A strange contradiction to the sitter. The furious loud party and the silence of the studio. At the rest of the moment.

The images lead the viewer through their painting style and take him on abstract color excursions. One might think of impressionistic influences like pointillism, painters like Seurat. Experienced only from a certain distance to the surface. From a distance, almost everything remains disciplined and photorealistic, free and intuitive from near vision. Carried out with pleasure and perfection and the respect of sensitivity. Not too much. Not to less. In fine gestural style.

"And to depict such a festival, whose technically elaborate productions also inspired the futuristic élan of the Silicon Valley scene to use the classical medium of painting, almost automatically creates references to art history, to which the Burning Man Festival itself with its original Installations and Art Cars may already be heard "(Ludwig Seyfarth / Burning Man - Electric Sky Kerber-Verlag S.7)

In addition, it is remarkable that Romans + Romans only suggest to the painter's protagonist. Because the single person does not exist. After all, they are a duo and thus can only be "thought" as one person. The painter is at most only very sensitive to feel. That's why the style of painting is taking back. Not too much personality. No dominance for one of them. Nobody breaks through. Everyone is slightly defensive. This in turn fits the anonymous modern media world. The individual is hardly perceived in the mass. We are a collective.


"Reality Drive" is the name of a digital inkjet reverse- print on acrylic by Nick Fudge. According to more accurate title information an "ancient" inkjet printing, which has gone through to its present state and the current printing form a development period from 1994 to 2015. If you look at more of such work, you will find the same long time, which is very surprising. Where does it come from? Who is this Nick Fudge?

He is or was a phantom of this "reality drive". Pictured on the print is an American street with various signposts, but nothing is written on it. The road of reality leads to nowhere. The road to nowhere ... And he was there for a long time. Dematerialized and disappeared. Not visible anymore. On the journey to nowhere.

Nick Fudge studied at Goldsmiths College London in the 1980s with Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas, Liam Gillick, etc., the so-called Young British Artists, who soon afterwards shook up the international art world. He is much noticed in this group. However, he makes the decision to withdraw completely from the art business and disappears in the episode for 25 years from the scene. He never shows his work again. During this time, he archived all of his paintings and above all his digital oeuvre, which he already dealt with back then, on transportable (but now long obsolete) hard disks. Strangely, there is barely any access to it with modern day laptops and computers. So it holds a kind of Sleeping Beauty sleep in a computerglassarg. Transparent, beautiful, yet unattainable. And almost not to wake up. And matures over the years as if by itself. Like wine. With peculiarities and also mistakes.

Fudge travels for many years through the USA and lives, among other things, in the digital stronghold of Silicon Valley. He is fascinated by the physical proximity to global companies such as "Apple" etc. He is also on the Burning Man Festival in the Black Rock Desert a few times.

The circle closes again.

During this time, many templates for the prints of the American lonely expanse arise. The "Reality Drive", the "Desert Drive", "Monument Valley" or "Death Valley", and as they are all so illustratively illustrative. Better names are not really for such, fallen out of time, areas. Endless deserts. Endless widths. Abandoned Places, Abandoned Valleys, Abandoned American Dreams. Portraits of a USA, as you know from thousands of films. Rusted cars included.

In 2010, Fudge starts a kind of expedition into his own digital and media past, and he undertakes a journey into the modern media archeology of the 1990s. In a short time he becomes a digger in his own right. Like an archaeologist, he explores the earliest epochs of his own work. Now explain the long history in the titles of the prints.

For the usability and further development of his closed old prints and for their processing, he assembles new design programs. For example, to paint with the "digital hand". He calls his other methods of digitizing "brush marks" and "painted pixelations". Or also "Abstractions of computer series". He uses chance principles through the spontaneous use of the "edit, undo and redo keys", which also appear as terms in his titles. This allows pictures to paint as if by themselves. The external influence becomes more random. The human error can play a role. Sounds complex. It is. As a layman, difficult to understand. He changes an old graphical image editing program into a contemporary version for the reinterpretation of "Cubist logic". In turn, art-historical citations are created, which in their own way sometimes skip over a hundred years of art history and reveal surprising similarities between early Picassos, Velasquez and today's digital computer prints. As if they already knew about it then.

Fudge himself is a big fan of Picasso and Jasper Johns. Above all, this is seen in his recent work, painted in oil. They are strongly oriented towards these artists and are intensively involved with their works. Above all, the oil paintings describe his "visible, existing" work. Because they are materially comprehensible and have surface.

Otherwise, his work must be thought often. There is no final output where a picture or print is finished. Everything can change over and over again, of course, or disappear altogether. His art is incomprehensible. Nothing is really there. Only datasets. Dematerialized.

So we also see pictures that should not actually exist. In times of the flood of images a phenomenon in which one should necessarily look closer. As long as possible.


A seemingly wild mixture.

Images as contradiction and dialogue. Opposites are known to attract. And that could be their answer and commonality in dealing with the new media:

they take the necessary time for their own work and then pass this attitude on to the viewer. , They do not let themselves be infected by the hustle and bustle and fast pace.

You work for and with the desire for the individual, you continue to question with an exact look. Against the speed - for staying.

Relaxed bath in the data flow. Digital flow. Let yourself drift. Dwell time of hours.

Twisted world. "And she moves me!