Steffen Kern

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*1988 München
2010–2018 Akademie der Bildenden Künste Munich, master student Prof. Karin Kneffel
2015–2016 Akademie der Bildenden Künste Vienna, Prof. Daniel Richter
  Lives and works in Munich

Grants / Scholarships

2022 Stiftung Kunstfonds, Neustart Kultur
2021 Junge Kunst und neue Wege, Stipendium des Freistaats Bayern
Elizabeth Grennshields Foundation Stipendium, Canada
2020 Kulturförderung LfA Förderbank Bayern
2020–2023 Atelierförderung Landeshauptstadt München
2019 Kulturförderung LfA Förderbank Bayern
2018 Debütantenförderung des Bayerischen Staatsministeriums für Bildung und
  Kultur, Wissenschaft und Kunst
2017 Projektförderung Theodor Pfizer Stiftung
  Hans Purrmann-Förderpreis Stadt Speyer
2016 Perron Förderpreis Stadt Frankenthal
2015–2016 DAAD-Vollstipendium Austria
2014–2017 Stipendium der Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes

Solo exhibitions

2021 Drawings from the Mental Archive, Evelyn Drewes | Galerie, Hamburg
  Scene Or Scenery? (Duo), Kunstverein Wolfenbüttel
  Extérieur nuit, Galerie Heimat, Saint Rémy De Provence
2020 Drawings From The Mental Archive, Rutger Brandt Gallery, Amsterdam
2019 Machine Between You And Me, Galerie Christian Pixis, München
  Scopophilia, Eichenmüllerhaus Lemgo
2017 Who‘s Afraid Of Black And White?, Kunstverein Erlangen
2016 Mise En Scène, Galerie Christian Pixis, München

Group exhibitions

2023 RBG x Blueknowledge Art Collection⁠, Rutgerbrandt Gallery, Amsterdam
  HIGH STAKES, presented by Lisa Boudet, Paris
  Just Painting, Projektraum studio. curated by Evelyn Drewes | Galerie, Hamburg
2022 Last Call, Lohaus Sominsky, Munich
  Jahresgaben, Kunstverein München
  Home is where the art is, Kunsthal Rotterdam, Netherlands
  Elb/Hängung #1, Villa am Elbhang, Hamburg
  David Borgmann, Marina Schulze und Steffen Kern, Galerie Noah, Augsburg
  The Pink Edition, Rutger Brandt Gallery, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  As If, Kunstverein Eislingen
2021 KARIN KNEFFEL & MEISTERSCHÜLER/INNEN. cling together swing together, Galerie Noah, Augsburg
  Nacht, Halle 50, München
2020 Smiley, Evelyn Drewes | Galerie, Hamburg
  NWWK, Worpswede
2019 Nachts Allein Im Atelier #6, Evelyn Drewes | Galerie, Hamburg
  In A Silent Way, Villa Böhm Neustadt An Der Weinstraße
2018 Salondergegenwart, Hamburg
  Zimmer Frei, Hotel Mariandl München
  On Repeat, Gig Munich
  Werke Der Gegenwart Und Moderne, Galerie Christian Pixis München
  Debütantenausstellung, Munich Mixed Arts
  Diplomausstellung, Akademie Der Bildenden Künste München
2017 Pas Une Image Juste, Juste Une Image., Galerie Christian Pixis Bei Marion Grcic-Ziersch München .
  Finalisten Des Märkischen Stipendiums, Städtische Galerie Lüdenscheid
  Easy, Gig Munich
  The Proof Is In The Pudding, Galerie Noah Augsburg
  Hans-Purrmann-Preise Der Stadt Speyer Für Bildende Kunst, Kulturhof Flachsgasse
2016 Perron Kunstpreis, Kunsthaus Frankenthal
  Junge Kunst Im Ruhrgebiet, Alte Spedition, Gladbeck
  Bender Schwinn Projekt 1, Galerie Renate Bender, München
  Rundgang 2016, Akademie Der Bildenden Künste, Wien
2015 Schwarzweiss, Short Time Galerie, München
  Künstler Der Galerie, Galerie Christian Pixis, München
  Verfremdung, Historische Schalterhalle, Starnberg
  ****Superior, Haus 10, Fürstenfeldbruck
  Differenzen, Pasinger Fabrik, München
  Nachher Weiss Man Weniger, Kunstverein Landshut
  Michael Deistler - Fauser, Grosz, Keil, Kern U.A. Im Kabinett, Galerie Christian Pixis, München
  München Zeichnet - Das Kleine Format, Kunstvermittlung Wäcker Und Graupner
2014 Hofer, Kern, Pagel, Galerie Christian Pixis, München
  Kunstsalon 2014 „Licht Und Schatten“, Ägyptisches Museum München
  Regina Baierl - Studioli, Private Gehäuse, Sowie Arbeiten Von V.Harder, V. Hündeberg, Kern, Koehler Und Pagel, Galerie Christian Pixis München
  Vier Gewinnt, Kunstverein Ottobrunn
2013 München Zeichnet - Zeichnungen Aus Münchner Ateliers, Galerie Der Künstler (Bbk München Und Oberbayern)
  Claire Angelini, Afra Dopfer, Steffen Kern, Tilo Keil - Zeichnungen, Galerie Christian Pixis München
2012 Kkk, Akademie Der Bildenden Künste München
2011 Ausstellung Zum 18. Aichacher Kunstpreis, Kunstverein Aichach - Sandepot-Halle
  Il-Jin Atem Choi Und Andere, Galerie Christian Pixis, München


Against the Flood of Images

Black-and-white pictures, rooms in nightlight or twilight, deserted, enigmatic, mysterious. One believes to know these places, and yet they do not belong to the ordinary and mundane. – They are perfect. Without traces of use and the impression of time, they become models, prototypes of our imaginary cosmos. The collective memory of the Western world, its dream of efficiency and impeccability, constitutes the trove of images that Steffen Kern’s art reflects. “The image and film productions from the 1950s and 60s played a key role in the postwar TV media revolution. The fact that most Western households were furnished with TV sets led to many people being confronted with the same images worlds, thus heralding a globalization of images,” he says, explaining why his pictures are not based on photographs—at least not directly. The flood of always the same images that we encounter daily in films and photographs are merely the distant echo of basic models that have been worn away and assimilated by this constant repetition.

Steffen Kern continues the process. Using a meticulous technique of ink, colored crayon and watercolor on paper, he paints and draws places and objects he is familiar with at second and third hand, transforming their banality into magic: The deserted room entitled “Meeting” appears to consist solely of light and shadow. The “House” discernible as a dark silhouette against a night blue sky becomes a protective space due to its warmly illuminated windows. The “Red Chair” shines in glamor in front of a purple curtain. “Porch and Two Windows” is irritating because of the mysterious light reflections. All the forms appear gentle and soft, their contours blurred in the darkness. One senses that the artist’s gaze harks back to a time before television. Georges Seurat’s shadow figures emerge from the past, from an epoch when photography was in its beginnings.

At the time, Charles Baudelaire, a contemporary of Seurat, denied photography any artistic quality, but conceded that it played an important part in building up the “archive of our memory.” Photography, in his view, can and should preserve what has been lost. In this sense, the art of Georges Seurat is closer to that of Steffen Kern than one would initially think. Both artists counter the flood of photographic images. Their motifs are not based on concrete photos, yet their respective drawing techniques are intent on imitating characteristics of photography, while at the same time distancing themselves from it. They take up the special chromaticity of photography, adhere to seemingly everyday motifs, place emphasis on the contrast of light and shadow. But their pictures are unique. They possess the aura that Walter Benjamin saw lost for photography.

Cathrin Klingsöhr-Leroy

Steffen Kern

Steffen Kern's meticulous charcoal drawings initially appear to the viewer like photographs. This is achieved primarily by mastering moments from photography, such as blooming, depth of field, or flash shadows, whose perfect graphic translation the artist has appropriated. Analogously, the presentation takes place in frames and passe-partouts that evoke associations with "classical" photography.

However, the image finding is not done, as one might think, by drawing from real, existing photographs, but rather the artist relies on a pool of "meta-images" in his memory, fed by films, photographs and pop culture. He calls these images, which are recognizable to a large part of the general public and therefore collective, "meta-images," comparable to the "collective image memory" to which, for example, Cindy Sherman refers.

Without concrete models, Kern's works are projection surfaces that must be filled by the viewer himself with answers to the various narrative levels and questions raised in the images.

Karharina Schwinn