An inveterate traveller, Franz Ackermann's art is founded on an investigation into the relationship between time and place. Like numerous other artists from disparate cultural backgrounds, since the early 1990s, Ackermann has lived and worked in Berlin - a sprawling European capital steeped in history, whose topography has been rebuilt and utterly transformed since the Second World War. At the heart of his practice is a highly personal interpretation of cartography, based not on the methodical charting of objectively observed terrain, but rather on the free-wheeling, visual expression of subjective experience in often bewilderingly exotic locations.
He produced the first of his 'Mental Maps' in 1991 in Hong Kong, beginning an ongoing series of watercolours on paper that endeavour to register the artist's fresh impressions of the visual delirium of culture and geography in the unfamiliar cities of his travels. The quickly worked 'Mental Maps' subsequently become the basis for larger works on paper and monumental canvases rendered in intense, almost psychedelic colours whose dizzying convulsions offer pure surface effect. Executed in 2005, The Monument is one of Ackermann's most dynamic and powerful works. Set against a minimalist orange backdrop of skyscraper windows, the constructs of 21st century city life are played beneath a towering vertical axis that descends from the undercarriage of a plane landing overhead. Suggestive of the dizzying speed of travel and the fleeting, transitory nature of its experiences, the crumbling, empty pedestals rising up from the metropolis below embody the chaos and flux of cities in today's increasingly globalized society. The visual travelogues it affords presents a provocative record of an ever shrinking planet, as each place becomes a 'non-place'; a triumph of marketing over cultural difference, national identity and natural exoticism.
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