In front of us, a spectral figure dressed in a large black jacket seems to advance placidly in a muffled silence. Indiscernible, his identity is buried in the fogged veil of the atmosphere, so it seems difficult to know if it is really a person or a ghostly appearance. Its presence, out of time, out of any spatial reference, absorbs the eye, catches the attention, to better plunge us in a spleen without manifest cause. Why feel such a stir in front of this image, that of an anonymous mundane as there are seven billion on Earth?
With brushes, squeegees and oil painting, Wendelin Wohlgemuth paints nostalgic images with a photographic aspect. Because yes, this work - and all the others - is not a draw tarnished by too intense lighting but an oil on panel. If the origin of the scene comes from an existing video or snapshot, the artist takes it out of context, gets rid of the anecdotal, to generate a new meaning. A sense inherent in the only aesthetic work painstakingly done by the painter, who in his Berlin studio voluntarily disturbs the legibility of the original image by sweeping it by wide scraping, in horizontal or vertical stripes, when the material is still wet. By appropriating the image in this way, Wendelin Wohlgemuth throws as much blur on the identity of immortalized portraits,
Failures and defects of the camera are thus at the heart of the aesthetic effect sought by the artist, and refer more to the status of a working tool than an objective way of seeing the world. Indeed, Wendelin Wohlgemuth begins each painting by imitating the very operation of the camera - that of mechanically reproducing an image - and then emphasizes the purely technical dimension, and its consequence which is the disappearance of the aura, a concept theorized by the German Walter Benjamin. It is at the fateful moment when it stretches the oil that Wendelin Wohlgemuth revives this aura, infuses this subjectivity, both fundamental in relation to art, in relation to the world. In other words, the only way to reach objectivity is possible only through the subjective and unique intervention of the artist. This claim can be read discretely by the manifestation of the pictorial material sometimes affixed to the finger on certain panels such as the end point, the ultimate signature of the painter. Only the attentive and attentive observer will perceive this brand so revealing of a reflection around the paradox of perception.
By playing with notions of reproduction and appropriation, figuration and abstraction, construction and reconstruction, Wendelin Wohlgemuth questions our own perceptive relationship to the world with the physical and mental sensation that we are no longer able to point. Therefore, if this spectral figure dressed in a large black jacket is so disturbing, it is because it escapes the flow of sanitized images of our society in search of absolute, to touch our collective and intimate memory that makes us imperfect beings.