Unfortunately, we can't make it to Barcelona to see her exhibition, but thankfully Katharina shared installation views of her show to share with you.
Paradise Lost? “I still believe in paradise. But now at least I know that it's not some place you can look for. Because it's not where you go. It's how you feel for a moment in your life when you are a part of something. And if you find that moment, it lasts forever. " - Richard Fischer, The Beach, 2000.
We all know it, the dream of a white sandy beach, a turquoise sea and tropical palm trees.
Even in everyday life, apart from vacation, we seem to be constantly on the hunt for the alleged paradise, unforgettable experiences or the perfect moment.
The digital space reinforces our longings: In a soft filter world, we are all forever young, have tanned skin, no wrinkles and a slight buzz.
The thought of living in eternal youth sounds sweet and tempting.
The advertising industry has been taking advantage of this desire for decades:
Buy this cream, it will make you shine. Do this exercise, it will tighten your skin! Cellulite, hair, wrinkles?
Hence with it!
But at some point, our dreams and desires become blurred with the harsh reality.
The idea that one may somehow freeze time and stay in the present moment is as pervasive as it is illusory.
In reality, nobody is forever young.
And so there is always forbidding finitude behind our utopian fantasies of eternity.
In her solo exhibition “forever YOUNG” in the Uvxal Gochez Gallery, Katharina impressively depicts this ambiguity.
Pink, yellow and blue seem to be the basic colours of the life attitude that the artist captures.
Her works in bright neon evoke the neon advertising aesthetic of the coastal city of Miami.
At first glance, the reduced vocabulary in Arndt's painting conveys sweet, naive positivism that resembles the scenarios from her own filter bubble.
A slim woman is jogging on the beach in a candy-pink-coloured room.
With the drink in hand, the sun in the face, legs up, breasts out, big smile, sparkling teeth. Happiness all over.
On Instagram, this promising world of appearance is like a light-heartedness and laissez-faire.
The perfect summer body seems just a click away, only a like separates us from a vacation on Copacabana.
We love mass consumption, we love abundance. Katharina Arndt ironically replaces the brand names in her pictures with the word “logo” - but we all know them, the labels they are talking about.
Happy people wear branded clothes and designer shoes.
They straighten their hair and shave their limbs.
It's all about conforming to a perfect image and making oneself look faultless.
Katharina Arndt captures the exhausting exaltation of a life philosophy that can never be realized in reality.
Arndt's works arise from her observation perspective.
While looking for the ideal appearance, the artist occasionally creates life-size figures on lacquer foil using markers and acrylic paint.
Her quick, snotty style of the painting represents a break from the supposed lightness of the motifs. In terms of motifs, Arndt also opens up a field of tension between artificiality and a fun society - in addition to rose-coloured glasses, the darker sides also gradually come to light.
Here the grin is a tad too wide, there the houseplant droops its head.
The dream beach is littered with beer cans, and the coffee is already over-boiling before the time.
A smartphone glows in every manicured hand and the sky is cloudy.
The alleged idyll wobbles in the gallery's artificial skylight. Some of the cigarette butts extend beyond the medium of the painting and onto the gallery wall, illustrating the entrance of reality.
The finitude floating above everything turns Arndt's snapshots, cool drinks and juicy watermelon into a dead nature.
Buzzing flies, like in a still life, foreshadow a quick end to the current condition.
And as the plane associated with longing goes up in flames, the disappointment resonates that many of our expectations will not come true.
The fear of internal and external decay and the desire for eternal parallel youth-run. And so we are constantly tempted to escape our own impermanence.
The digital offers an optimal way out of this dilemma: On Instagram, we chase after an illusory world with open eyes and let ourselves be seduced by it.
The constructed life on our screens shapes our own longings: it always has to be a little better, the sea bluer, the beach whiter.
In social media, self-portrayal that is looked at and looked at is commonplace.
Arndt's protagonists give the impression that they enjoy this mutual voyeurism.
Something they all seem to have in common is their serenity.
The luxurious divas, sporty young women and cheeky teens display a certain no matter attitude:
They smoke, they drink a lot and they like to drink, they do everything they like.
All of them have a calming effect on themselves, by themselves and with themselves.
While they sink into the depths of their smartphone or their cocktail glass, there is always a certain lightness and carefree resonance.
Both in terms of content and material, the surface manifests itself in the entire exhibition.
Arndt transfers the artificial trivial directly into her painting.
The shimmering surface of the varnish effectively visualizes how easily we indulge our longings.
Our life is trimmed to a shine: With hairless body parts we glide gently over the smartphone display, the sunglasses sparkle with the Campari glass, life is easy.
But although the smooth serves as a wonderful metaphor for lightness, it often appears superficial and conformist at the same time.
In a society increasingly marked by atheism, we lack the hope of paradise at the end of life.
Great panic at the end of the day and an insatiable desire for party, happiness, wealth and sex - life! - are the consequence.
We patiently adapt to beauty cults that go hand in hand with excessive consumption and are rewarded with a like in the end.
Instead of the divine, we believe in wish and pleasure, sensual fulfillment and infinite pleasure.
Arndt's works are scenes of hedonism, flashing and colourful. Like voyeurs, we can watch the protagonists as they shape their everyday lives. But what about us?
Katharina Arndt visualizes the conflict between reason and fantasy, coolness and anxiety and our eternal search for the perfect moment that lasts forever. Paradise is not lost, we just have to create it here on earth. So please have another drink!
Further relevant information:
Uxval Gochez Gallery | Katharina Arndt
Opening 15th of September 5-9pm,
Galeria Uxval Gochez, Trafalgar 36, 08010 Barcelona
The Forever young exhibition runs until 30.10.2021.