Christian Holtmann

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*1970 Rheine
2000–2006 Hochschule für Künste Bremen, Masterstudent Prof. Karin Kneffel
Lives and works in Bremen

Grants / Scholarships

2014 Inselmaler, Jahresstipendium der Sylter Kunstfreunde
2011 Berlin Stipendium der Freien Hansestadt Bremen
2007–2008 Stipendium der Künstlerstätte Stuhr-Heiligenrode
2005 Imke Folkerts Förderpreis für bildende Kunst
2004 Preis der „Nordwestkunst“ der Kunsthalle Wilhelmshaven

Solo exhibitions

2019 Pures Glück, GaDeWe, Galerie des Westens, Bremen
2018 I'm not afraid, Galerie Burster, Karlsruhe
Bromance, Evelyn Drewes | Galerie, Hamburg
Talent is cheap, Kunstverein Rothenburg
2016 Der Schweizer Sammler, Studienzentrum für Künstlerpublikationen, Neues Museum Weserburg, Bremen
Kann man davon leben ?, Galerie Kramer, Bremen
2014 tra tra tra, designxport, Hamburg
Style, Sylter Kunstfreunde, Westerland
2013 S/M/L/XL, Galerie Kramer, Bremen
I'm this, I'm that, Evelyn Drewes | Galerie, Hamburg
2012 Hard row to hoe (mit Michael Peltzer), Evelyn | Galerie, Berlin
2011 Easy, Lucky, Free, Kunstverein Cuxhaven
2010 Bad Bank, GaDeWe, Galerie des Westens, Bremen

Group exhibitions

2022 Skulpturale Poesie, Zentrum für Künstlerpublikationen, Weserburg, Bremen
2021 cling together swing together, Galerie Noah, Augsburg
Masters of the Futur", Galerie Kramer, Bremen
Raum für junge Kunst, Kunstverein Achim
2020 Umformung, Evelyn Drewes | Galerie, Hamburg
2019 Nachts Allein Im Atelier #6, Evelyn Drewes | Galerie, Hamburg
  Ostrale 2019, Dresden
  Bildersprachen, Syker Vorwerk, Syke
  Total Lokal, Peggy Gallery, Bremen
2017 Nachts Allein im Atelier IV, Evelyn Drewes | Galerie, Hamburg
Gb Open, Güterbahnhof, Bremen
Trunk, Kunstverein Lüneburg
The Proof Is In The Pudding, Karin Kneffel Und 28 Meisterschüler, Galerie Noah, Augsburg
Troy, Evelyn Drewes | Galerie, Hamburg
Luther: Idol & Fetisch, Kunstverein Buchholz
2016 Meistern, Karin Kneffel Meisterklassen, Evelyn Drewes | Galerie, Hamburg
2015 Nachts Allein im Atelier, Evelyn Drewes | Galerie, Hamburg
15 Jahre Preis Der Nordwestkunst, Kunsthalle Wilhelmshaven
Knotenpunkt 2015, Affenfaust Galerie, Hamburg
Raumstationen, Kunstverein Hannover
Millerntor Gallery #5, Millerntor Stadion, Hamburg
2014 Karin Kneffel Und Meisterschüler, Kunstverein Lippe, Detmold
Hobo My Way, Ostfriesland, Berlin
Head And Shoulders, Haus Coburg, Delmenhorst
Notausgang Am Horizont, 8. Bremer Kunstfrühling, Bbk, Bremen
2013 Junge Kunst, Sparkasse Karlsruhe Ettlingen, Karlsruhe
Junge Positionen, Mit Evelyn Drewes | Galerie, Offenbach
P/Art, Producers Artfair, Hamburg
2012 Made In Germany, Mit Galerie Popartpirat, London
Index 12, Kunsthaus Hamburg
Hard Row To Hoe, Galerie Popartpirat, Berlin
Endstation Künstler, Ostfriesland, Berlin
Delikates, Ostfriesland, Berlin
2011 Rund & Eckig, Galerie Gavriel, Bremen
Nachts Allein Im Atelier, Galerie Popartpirat, Hamburg
Relax, Kreuzberg Pavillon Neuköln, Berlin
Vol.1 - Drawings, Sounds & Ambiences, Projekt Der Hbk Braunschweig, Cuxhaven
2010 33. Bremer Förderpreis Für Bildende Kunst, Städtische Galerie Bremen
85. Herbstausstellung Niedersächsischer Künstler, Kunstverein Hannover

Elective affinities, Christian

A talented painter in his prime, we will call him Christian, wanted to become famous. Like so many young artists, he had a lot of self-doubt. That is normal. Christian applied for the Northwest Art Prize 2004. Young artists have to apply for such prizes, because once they are 35, the chances of still being considered in contemporary competitions become slimmer. Christian was 34, so it was high time. Art loves young art and beautiful bodies. His skill earned him the prize, and rightly so, which is how we knew each other, because I was running the Kunsthalle Wilhelmshaven at the time. Christian's art always seemed to me like a journey into my own past - youth art, in other words, that told a colorful story of the confusions, perceptions and desires of an existence as a male of the human species that never quite grew up. Among them were small media images, as we had them in our heads from television, newspapers, magazines or video games, torn out of contextual surfaces and frozen in place by painting, fragments of being thrown into a garish, crowded and increasingly modern world that constantly had something to say to us - but what? But there were also already large paintings, which in their harmless, cute, threateningly enchanting combinations absurdly testified to our real existing surrealism, in which we did not know in nor out, but felt like great. This world was the old Federal Republic, a very equal, very liberated, somewhat boring country that looked very much to America, the land of unlimited possibilities, from which all trends came and which had invented coolness. That's how it was.

It's not like that anymore, not like that anyway, and Christian has also grown older, of course, like myself. Our present still has a lot to do with that media parallel, substitute and escape world that we have seen on television, in newspapers, magazines, video games and increasingly everywhere, perhaps even more so, not forgetting the Internet of course. Christian still wants to finally become famous, as famous as Gerhard Richter (fig. p. 37), as Keith Haring, as Sigmar Polke (fig. p. 47), as Joseph Beuys, as Jonathan Meese (fig. p. 11), as Cindy Sherman. This is probably normal for an artist who is not as famous as Damien Hirst. But Keith Haring died of AIDS, Sigmar Polke died, so did Joseph Beuys, Jonathan Meese can be classified as rather borderline as far as his social prognosis is concerned, and even Cindy Sherman's cosplay selfies, as hallucinatory as a Tarantino film, are all somewhat questionable identifiers for a guy as fundamentally likeable as our title character. Christian, as I've come to know him, is probably not much of a hero. "I'm not afraid" (fig. p. 25, of course, before "Red, Yellow and Blue" - another such giant of Modern Art's superhero history) reads like whistling in the woods with him, and looks like it, too - a bit thin on the too-large field, but with vigorously applied capitals.

Art history loves superheroes. Wassily Kandinsky, for example, how he invents non-objectivity all by himself against the swamp of realism and leads the world into the spiritual with his art - or of course Pablo Picasso, from whose testosterone-filled brush every single stroke immediately makes you smell Pablo Picasso, a genius of his own. Such stories are formative for Christian and me, like Superman and Spiderman, who used to appear in his art from time to time, like Jaws, Pac-Man and Lurchi, whom I really always liked because he had such a great six-pack. I could understand Christian being on the verge of taking "I need ä Dollar" (fig. p. 30/31) out of the catalog because it sounded like a "beggar artist". But "I need ä Dollar" is quite precise. For this is the cry for help of an uneducated precariat homie who excuses his dilettantish attempt at blackmail with cut-out letters according to the formula "I'm young and need the money" - simply pathetic! This is not our Christian, he knows good English and does not do such a thing, such a decent guy. But he does. It is even signed by him, on the back, the Opfa! What should he do, when the superheroes - Richter, Haring, Polke, Beuys, Hirst and all the others - have already done everything? In a way, Christian has the misfortune of being an artist in really late modernism. Martin Kippenberger, who also did everything before Christian, once said quite aptly, "I can't cut off my ear every day." That's encouraging! To set an example against self-prostitution, deformation fetishism and exhibitionism, which are the order of the day in the art pig system. No, our Christian is rather not politically engaged, at least not in his art. No hero, just like us.

But he is undoubtedly a never-quite-grown-up male of the human species, like so many of us, and full of self-doubt. That's normal. That's what makes him so fundamentally likable to me. Bravery has a remarkable etymological relationship to being good. In English, which Christian knows really well, this is still noticeable for us: brave, English = German, tapfer. He who is brave is well-behaved, does what is required of him, what has to be done, what a man has to do. A man must do what a man must do, well-behaved, brave, against fear and against many doubts. This is quite out of fashion and also quite politically incorrect, because masculinity is now regarded, not entirely unjustifiably, as a high-risk way of life. Christian lives not only in the late modern age, but also in the post-masculine age. Pretty bad luck for him. He does what an artist has to do: transforms, as best he can, the difficulties and resistances into art. The old battles are fought, however: against the bigotry of the old lords and ladies, the ignorance of the bourgeoisie, the pettiness of the establishment. In exhibitions of contemporary art, everyone is actually affected or addressed, that's very important and you can talk about it really well. If it goes well, the collectors are from Dubai, the artists are from Berlin, I give the speech, the party is Italian and everything is organized by the Swiss. If it goes badly, the collectors are from Berlin, the artists are from Dubai, I give the speech, the party is Swiss and everything is organized by the Italians - a joke, nothing more, probably not even a good one. The victory of contemporary art is a total one, unfortunately. Holtmann is now still fighting with his own bravado, with the artist in him, wresting masterpieces from him, with the fact that art has to be new, that an artist has to be great after all, and this fight is severe because he is not Pablo Picasso, thank God, lamented and whistled, brave Christian, I like you.

A picture like "I could do that" always makes me a little sad, sad in the sense of melancholic, but also sad. If you have to say it, maybe you can't ...? Our generation - you are only four years younger than I am - has grown up in the post-political age. There was too much mail and too little message. Politics didn't really interest us very much; we had to and were supposed to make a career, which became increasingly difficult. Generation X, they can't have heroes, why should they? Some of us have also been damn lucky. I guess we're a little powerless, so it's not even enough for a proper name for our generation. But we are there. And we can buy something. That's our only power, even that still comes from America. You understood that, Christian, and you wanted to change fronts - from consumer cattle to player. From a marketing point of view, I find the trick with the big dot in the middle of the pictures quite clever. It's immediately recognizable, but it still hides something and therefore arouses curiosity. And then it looks super cool minimalism, but is the opposite. You've really got it, got it. The message then seems all the more subtle: "But you didn't" - Ouch! That hit home. Yes, I admit, I enjoy that, have fun with it and always recognize myself a bit in it. You're a freeloader, Christian, a really cool skater who wants to jump on the big, single, speeding train of Classic Modernism just in time to show us all again, yeah. It's pretty late. Postmodernism, another one of those posts, was always a lie. After modernity has always been in modernity, and we couldn't get out of it, like in a revolving door, a turbine, which modernity, after all, has been pushing ahead of it for quite a long time. But unfortunately we also already live in the post-historical age and there we simply don't write the history of the future anymore, any future mind you, because it's not even about "no utopia" anymore, it's simply like no weather at all. Apocalypse feels different, more heroic, more tragic. We didn't expect that. Why don't you do something about Melania Trump, we're sure to have a lot of fun with her, and you like America, too, that's a kick, because even the post-factual has just begun. But haven't we always been post-factual - Lurchi rules!? Hasn't art always abolished facts, realism, and left it behind? But maybe something is actually happening to us right now that has nothing to do with our good old modernity, and we just haven't really noticed it yet. We will see. Will there still be art at all? We'll see. Yes, No, I don't know. And neither do you, Christian.

Daniel Spanke