Perrotin Shanghai is delighted to present the first solo gallery exhibition of German artist Gregor Hildebrandt in mainland China. The artist's newly created signature paintings, along with a large-scale, site-specific installation, transform the exhibition hall into an imaginary forest where sound becomes matter and matter grows into forms.
Exploring aesthetic and conceptual possibilities of obsolete recording media, Hildebrandt constructs his visual vocabulary through the usage of vinyl records, audio- and videotapes. His creation is always very personal, imbued with a multitude of references drawn from music, cinema, art, and literature he enjoys. Hildebrandt’s monumental collages and architectonic landscapes build up a visceral experience, a song sung in silence. In his own words, they become "a memorial to different songs that are important to me."
The exhibition's title “Wo du mich liebst beginnt der Wald,” translated as “Where You Love Me Begins the Forest,” is a verse from the song "Dolores" by German band Anne released through Grzegorzki Records. Hildebrandt and Alicja Kwade founded the label in 2018, testifying their passion for music. In response to the title, poetic references to forest are present throughout the exhibition. From the recurring lyrics in paintings, the overall color theme, to the site-specific installation featuring an array of distinctive record columns and walls, the theme of forest unfolds itself, formulating a unified conceptual impression.
Chien Yao, the renowned lyricist and musician, has shared his reflections on Gregor's practice in the texts as below.
I have often felt that among literary and artistic creators, artists are the most honest narrators of our bodily experiences. For that matter, they surpass writers and musicians. Whilst words and notes are impossible without rules and standards, art remains open to greater possibilities. Gregor Hildebrandt testifies this belief perfectly. Even though physical music belongs to the days of yore, he still insists upon revealing the value of its material form and, through artistic metamorphosis, touches the heart.
The vinyl records and cassette tapes that once carried the music reappeared before my eyes in artistic form, conveying thoughts and emotions in a profound and tangible way. It is a feeling that words cannot describe. Each piece of work, visible to the naked eye and within the reach of hands, caught the viewers off-guard. It opens the gate to forgotten memories that we once hold dear to ourselves.
Old age has rendered me a runaway from memories, and especially my first 15 years in music industry. That was the time when I collected music albums and video works shelf after shelf at home out of passion simple and true, leaving behind an intellectual and emotional record. In retrospect, I was living in a work of art, an installation of time even. Whereas the contemporary reality we share is one where listening to music is no different from watching a short video, consumed and forgotten in a single swipe. The music continues, but the quality is no longer the same.
In his work, Hildebrandt weaves the black and brown cassette tapes into a sail. The cross-section serves as a ground to walk and dance on. Vinyl records are either shaped into chess pieces or pieced together into walls. When music is dematerialized, uploaded to the cloud, and dismembered for quick buys, Hildebrandt restores music to its material form in reticence. It is a powerful silence and an embodied presence that recalls, moves, and inspires, ready to set sail.
Kindred spirits are connected through great artworks. Hildebrandt’s creation is at once a sail and a painting, strumming the chord deep inside me.
Born in 1974 in Bad Homburg, Germany
Lives and works in Berlin, Germany
Gregor Hildebrandt's signature media are cassette tape and vinyl, which he collages and assembles into apparently minimalist yet latently romantic paintings, sculptures, and installations. Resting in silence behind the glossy surface of his analog aesthetics, which verges on black and white monochrome, music and cinema haunt his practice. Whether pictorial or sculptural, all of his works contain prerecorded materials, which he references in the titles. These pop-cultural sources, usually a single song, are meant to trigger both collective and personal memories. Like analog storage media, his distinctive rip-off technique is a metaphor for the mnestic process itself: it consists in rubbing magnetic coating against double-sided adhesive tape stuck on canvas to trace intricate and elusive powdery patterns. Further relating to architectural Gesamtkunstwerk, Hildebrandt’s monumental sonic barriers made of stacked, bowl-shaped records and his sensual wall curtains made of unreeled tapes create paths for the visitors of his shows.