Pictures of Pictures. If we had to name a constistent theme for Peter Vahlefeld’s way of working, it would be that of expropriation of found material; the ways of formatting information and manipulating their surface through heavy use of paint. In his newest works the mediums are advertisements for international art galleries and auction houses whose content he has painted over. Peter Vahlefeld explores the currency of media images as a platform to fuck them up. By painting lushly on top of them, he is expropriating their surface, language, and semantics. Hijacking material from the public domain and obscuring them, Vahlefeld further complicates the everyday transaction of images by taking away the content they´re supposed to advertise. It is no longer about playing off the high and the low against each other, but rather how we can use the powerful impulses of popular culture that pervade our everyday life for our own intents and purposes.

Broad brushstrokes and spray-painted graffiti lines, in acidic and delicate colours, dash across very large canvases. The ground is not white but crammed with pigmented inkjet prints and thick layers of paint. Vahlefeld scratches on the faux facades of the seemingly glossy objects of desire. The surfaces appear as fragile and fugitive, as ravaged and ruptured, as the explosive emotional and psychological content of his handling the paint, competing with assorted drips, squiggles, stains, and scrubbing gestures. Parts of images, words, text, and logos pop up as subject matter; shifts in perspective take place back and forth across the surface of the painting and subtle references to the reality that the advertisements reflect or inhabit are used to indicate the unique nature of the painting as depictions of today`s conflicted desires with consumption patterns. Advertising is beating the fine arts at their old game. We cannot ignore the fact that one of the traditional functions of fine art, the definition of what is fine and art, has now been taken over by marketing industries.

Working in a palette of exuberant colours, the artist over-paints iconic popular images until they are no longer recognizable, but are irrevocably and brutally changed into amalgamations of Abstract Expressionism mixed with the remnants of Pop. There is a palpable rawness to Vahlefeld‘s work and method of painting. Rather than beginning with placing the first brushstrokes on a virginal white priming, Vahlefeld creates a digital template on the computer for the painting later on canvas. In this case the base exists of an over-painted merchandising of »Goya’s El Quitasol«. A 7 pieces, self-adhesive file label which he had purchased at the Prado museum shop. The canvas becomes a palette of inkjet-prints as the painting upon it takes shape. The violent, spontaneous brushstrokes and sequences of lines stretching across the canvas’ photographic base form a mix of manually and digitally applied colours using paint and digital prints. In all these »Goya« works, the human figure as well as the graphic elements of the label itself nestle into the space of the picture plane, and are overwhelmed by the colourful, sometimes explosive, oil applications around them. Throughout the canvases, he deploys an energetic pictorial activity and evokes an almost cosmic sense of tumult. There is a great push and pull, and it seems that Vahlefeld lives in this swirl of delicate gestures and driving desires to use these powerful impulses of popular culture that pervade our life for his own intent and purpose always reminding us that »image« drowns every aspect of life..
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Peter Vahlefeld Madrid
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Peter Vahlefeld Madrid
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