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Markus Linnenbrink Masters Line and Color

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Last Friday, Whitewall magazine celebrated the new Marea residences with the Related Group’s Jorge Perez. That evening we were also fêting artist Markus Linnenbrink, the German Brooklyn-based artist who has been commissioned to create work for the Miami Beach project. The week of Art Basel Miami Beach, we spoke with the artist about his practice and his paintings that will be on view in the lobby of Marea.

WHITEWALL: You were born in Germany and now live and work in Brooklyn. Do you see similarities between the art scene in Bushwick and Berlin?

MARKUS LINNENBRINK: I lived in West Berlin in the mid eighties. Everybody that had to run away from small town, military, lack of culture, homophobia or just plain boredom went to Berlin. Might still be true for today, as Berlin is the only real town of size in Germany. But as we know, metropolis can be overrated…the island of bright lights (literally) in the middle of dark east German communism. If you would do the excruciating (border patrols that lasted for hours) drive from the west through the east at night, you could see the lights of the western part of the city like a light dome from far away. The east was a dark, sparely lit up place. That lasted till ‘89 as we know, we left for the west in June that year. There was not much surviving as an artist in Berlin in those days as there were almost no collectors, no money being spent on young art.

Berlin was and is filled with the ambitious and the creative, as is New York, especially Bushwick, Brooklyn where I work. A constant supply of new and young are a given in both cities.

Markus Linnenbrink
C-print, epoxy resin on wood
Courtesy of Taubert Contemporary

WW: In the 1980s you worked primarily with black and white. What made you switch to the bold, vibrant hues you now use?

ML: Earning my bright palette and the ability to work with any given color took some time. Colors came to me during an excursion to Italy during my time in art school. Put the studio into beautiful landscape and see what happens. Kind of old school and anachronistic almost, but it did ring a bell for me. It made me embrace the fact that I can use any color possible in any combination if done right. But even these days I sometimes use black-and-white paintings  or wall installations (adding all the grays possible), like switching back into black-and-white photography or like traveling back in time to the era of black-and-white TV.

WW: Your work also plays with linearity. The lines are intended to extend “ideally forever in time and space.” Why are you drawn to lines?

ML: Starting to work with lines or bands of color minimized the aspects of composition in my work. It is the most evident structure to stumble upon, it has been used by tons of artists, designers, architects… and therefore does provide a lot of freedom and challenge at the same time. Stripes are widely used and apparent in our lives, both in nature and man-made. So using them gave me a lot of freedom to explore colors and their behavior in relationships. Adding gravity to the mix added simplicity. But getting more and more involved, the relations got more and more complex, and different groups or types of paintings and sculptures developed over the years in my work.

WW: Many of your works are immersive, encompassing several walls. How do you want your viewer to experience this?

ML: If I do site-specific works I like to integrate as much architecture as possible that makes sense to create a color environment. That then has to be explored through movement and change of perspective. So the viewer is involved in order to get the whole experience which is different to encountering a single painting or artwork on a wall. Being surrounded by color can be amazing, almost like being in a painting. Point of view, changing lights from natural to artificial, and perspective are all part of this. The viewer is enabled to make independent decisions about his or her relation to the work.

WW: You had a show at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, where you created some site-specific works. Will you do any site-specific pieces for the Marea in Miami?

Planned are two wall paintings in the elevator lobbies on the ground floor. It will be interesting to see two similar spaces getting transformed into similar but different ways. Usually I arrive at a site with a rough concept, but not a too elaborate one. I want an open mindset to create paintings that can only come to life in that specific space, architecture, light, surrounding. This way the work grows into life as a very unique piece that is defined by its unique spot that I am allowed to work in.



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Minjung Kim




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After two years of planning and construction, creative collective KidSuper opened its new headquarters, KidSuper World, on February 10.


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