Nikola Irmer

Nikola Irmer is an artist who works on specific themes over long periods of time, involving extensive research into her subject matter. She is a painter whose interest in a theme tends to begin as a visceral response to a visual impression, which then evolves into an obsessive investigation into her subject. For this she engages in thorough research into its intellectual background and history, but most importantly it involves an elaborate work process, from various stages of study – small pencil sketches, dense drawings, colour studies, oil sketches up to large scale paintings. Her focus is on things whose use value has apparently diminished and whose status as relic opens up avenues for alternate interpretations to the artist. These objects often straddle the contradiction of being at one and the same time alluring and seductive whilst also implying darker hidden meanings. Her body of work “Promethean Boldness” with which she was invited to be part of dOCUMENTA 13, addresses the ambivalent nature of Natural History Collections.

In her current work “Playpens”, she delves into the world of the miniature. The paintings are of toy worlds, parallel universes that are often associated with innocence, domestic comfort and play. Dollhouses in particular are vessels of coded meanings that are profoundly gendered whilst also serving as models of order and family privacy. Yet lurking beneath this veneer of suburban middle class bliss, the world of play can turn to shadow areas and be threatened by suddenly irrupting chaos. Thus notions of domestic safety and control are subtly undermined through disjunctions in scale, outrageous colour choices, surreal juxtapositions and dark humour. Spaces in paintings are on the verge of tipping into the absurd, others have trespassers from outside that subvert their logic and unity. All these originate in and tap into deeply ambivalent memories and imaginations of childhood. In painting miniature worlds, Irmer is also investigating a more puzzling conundrum: Everyday recognizable objects at reduced scale solicit handling and interaction yet leave us confounded because they do not serve their implied purpose. Here a gap opens up for reflecting on objects whose outward appearance and function are at extreme variance. As painting from life is at bottom always a puzzling over appearance’s ontology, this proves very fertile ground for painting.

Since she began exhibiting in 1999, Irmer has had numerous exhibitions in the US, Britain and Europe. She was a participant at dOCUMENTA 13, Worldly House. Recent solo shows were at Schlossmuseum Schloss Friedenstein Gotha, Mewo Kunsthalle, Memmingen, Galerie Nanna Preußners, Hamburg and Neue Galerie Landshut.  Recent group shows were at Brennan and Griffin, New York, galerie weisser elefant, Berlin, Projektraum Deutscher Künstlerbund, Berlin and Galerie Julia Garnatz, Cologne.

Born 1970 in Starnberg. Lives and works in Berlin.

Education

1992-93

San Francisco Art Institute

1993-95

Glasgow School of Art (Bachelor of Fine Arts)

1995-98

Hunter College, City University New York (Master of Fine Arts)

2010

3-month study residence in Florence

2013

6-month study residence in Florence


Awards and Promotions

2013

Support for artist's catalogue for E-book Promethean Boldness, Design Transfer Bonus, Senate Administration for the Economy, Technology and Women's Issues

2003

work scholarship, foundation for Funding Culture

1999

Support for artist's catalogue,Thuringian Ministry for Science, Education and Culture

1997

Travel Grant, Hunter College, New York

1995

Landscape Drawing Prize, Glasgow School of Art


Bibliography

2017

Jeremias Heppeler, "Formen in Formaldehyd", in: Thurgaukultur
Dieter Langhardt, "Zu neuem Leben erweckt", in St. Galler Tagblatt

2016

Titus Arnu, Nikola Irmer. Zoo der lebenden Toten, in: Süddeutsche Zeitung No. 216, 17./18. September, page 52
Love birds, Sir?, monograph with essays by Karin Leonhard and Rachel Poliquin, Passau

2014

Heim_Spiel Mitte, exhibition catalog, Frauenmuseum Berlin & galerie weisser elefant, Berlin

2013

Promethean Boldness, e-book, Kunst Editionen, Berlin
Nikola Irmer, Promethean Boldness, in: Antennae, The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture, Issue 25, page 33

2012

Nikola Irmer, Promethean Boldness, in: „Bildende Künste und Dynamiken der Natur, Kritische Berichte, Vol. 40, Nr. 3

2010

Guido Schlimbach (editor), Blickwechsel, exhibition catalog, Galerie Julia Garnatz, Cologne

2009

basis Wien (eiditor), Mal was Deutsches, exhibition catalog, Vienna

2008

Maureen Ward, Nikola Irmer: Horst, in: a-n magazine, September Issue, page 17, UK
Menschen und Orte. Eine Ausstellung zum 150-jährigen Jubiläum des Kunstvereins Konstanz, exhibition catalog, The Green Box Kunst Editionen, Berlin

2007

Wilhelm von Werthern, Artist of the month: Nikola Irmer, in: LE MONDE diplomatique, December 

2006

Happy Birthday, exhibition catalog, Kunsthaus Erfurt

2005

K4 galerie (editor), Nikola Irmer, Personals, bruno dorn verlag, Berlin

2002

Times Square Gallery (editor), Second Sight, exhibition catalog, New York City

1999

Tely Büchner (Hg.), Nikola Irmer, exhibition catalog, Galerie im Kunsthaus Erfurt


Teaching, Talks:

2017

Lecturer, University Konstanz: Exhibition! A curatorical dialogue between Art History and Contemporary Painting
Painting Perceptions, Lecture and Seminar at Forschungsstelle Naturbilder, University of Hamburg

2016/17

Lecturer, University Konstanz: Exhibition! A curatorical dialogue between Art History and Contemporary Painting

2008

Visiting Lecturer, Camberwell College of Arts

2003-05

Lecturer, Summer Academy Neuburg

 

Solo exhibitions

2020

Figmens and Clues, Neue Galerie Landshut, Verein für aktuelle Kunst e.V.

2017

Animalerisch, Kunstraum Kreuzlingen, Switzerland
Unruly Stillness, Galerie Nanna Preußners, Hamburg

2015

Leben im Verborgenen, Schlossmuseum Gotha, Ekhof-Galerie

2014

Stilled Lives, Galerie Nanna Preußners, Hamburg
Artefakte. Neue Arbeiten zum Thema Kunst und Forschung, MEWO Kunsthalle Memmingen (with Maximilian Moritz Prüfer)

2013

A Bird a Mouse and a Piece of Heart..., Neue Galerie Landshut, Verein für aktuelle Kunst e.V.

2011

Promethean Boldness, Hemingwayart, Oxford

2010

Blickwechsel, Galerie Julia Garnatz, Cologne (with Rupert Eder, cat.)
Shelf Life, Schaltwerk Kunst, Hamburg (now: Galerie Nanna Preußners)
Shelf Life, project space Horton Gallery, Berlin

2009

Thickets, Foyer Space Gallery, Camberwell College of Arts, London

2008

Horst, apartment, Manchester

2007Boys, axellappprojects, Berlin
2005

Mauerpark, project space, Art Frankfurt
Berliner Bilder, con/temporary, Berlin

2004

Far From Home, Kunsthaus Erfurt
Nicht die ganze Wahrheit K4 galerie, Saarbrücken

2003

Far From Home, Ungarische Botschaft, Berlin


Group exhibitions

2020Seltene Gewächse, Belleparais - Raum für Kunst, Munich
2018100, Galerie Axel Obiger, Berlin
2017

Mindscapes, Galerie Nanna Preußners, Hamburg (with Peter Sköld and Flora Whiteley)
Heimat?, Deutscher Künstlerbund, Berlin
Porträt des Galeristen, Galerie Axel Obiger, Berlin

2014

Heim_Spiel Mitte, galerie weisser elefant, Berlin

2013

Best Of, Künstler der Galerie, Galerie Nanna Preußners, Hamburg
“Page 179, Artforum, September 2013.”, Brennan & Griffin, New York

2012

Promethean Boldness within the framework of the exhibition "The Worldly House. An Archive Inspired by Donna Haraway’s Writings on Multi-Species Co-Evolution", dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel
Blätterwald oder die Quintessenz des Buches, Projektraum Deutscher Künstlerbund, Berlin
Papier, Galerie Julia Garnatz, Cologne

2009

Mal was Deutsches, Salzburg

2008

Menschen und Orte, 150 Jahre Kunstverein Konstanz
Postcard From Berlin, arttranspennine 08
Berlin, du bist so wunderbar ..., Kunststiftung Starke, Berlin
You are Living in a Space Like Mine, Kunstfabrik am Flutgraben, Berlin (curated by Knut Eckstein)

2007

Review, axellappprojects, Berlin
Positioning, K4 galerie, Saarbrücken

2006

Das Große im Kleinen, K4 galerie, Saarbrücken
Happy Birthday, Kunsthaus Erfurt

2005

Aus der Serie, K4 galerie, Saarbrücken
Realität und Geheimnis, Galerie Epikur, Wuppertal

2003

Why Can't I be You? Galerie Paula Böttcher, Berlin

2002

Second Sight, Times Square Gallery, New York (cat.)
Große Kunstausstellung Sommer 2002 im Pazifik, Pazifik, Berlin

2001

Three Painters, Intermedia Gallery, Glasgow

1999

Portrait, AU Base Gallery, New York