Gregor Hildebrandt
Kraniche ziehen vorüber
14. May - 29. Jun 2024
Perrotin, Seoul

Every morning, the artist is greeted by cranes flying overhead in the ceiling painting of his Berlin bedroom. Cranes never linger, they stay on the move; their flight determined by their constant migration from summer to winter habitats and back. The exhibition’s title refers to a 1957 film by Russian director Mikhail Kalatosov, The Cranes Are Flying, which begins in the early morning and shows an exuberant young couple in love dancing through the deserted streets of Moscow. They pause briefly to watch cranes migrating in the sky, at which point they are surprised by a street-cleaning vehicle and sprayed with water. But that doesn’t dampen the lovers’ spirits.

Gregor Hildebrandt is a lover. He loves life, art, film and music, and he generously shares this love with the world through his art. It would be an understatement to say that music runs through his artistic oeuvre; indeed, the artist not only creates his work from sound carriers—tapes and records—but he also plays with all the registers of music in his art, with tempo, rhythm, emphasis, pauses, repetitions and cadences. And with melodies, remembered a million times over, but which never fully emerge as such in his work.

The essential difference between a painting and a piece of music is that the piece of music unfolds in time. It requires the audience to listen, to follow it closely in order to understand it. This takes a certain amount of time that cannot be regained, but offers an experience that cannot be undone. The work of art cannot be unseen either, but it presents itself in its entirety to the eyes of the viewer, the linearity of viewing is reserved for the gaze of the individual viewer, so each pictorial narrative unfolds individually.

Free-standing columns of colorful painted vinyl records, shaped into bowls and stacked on top of each other, pay homage to the great classic of modern sculpture, Constantin Brancusi’s Endless Column. The records’ colors mimic the striped pattern of Gregor Hildebrandt’s partner’s mother’s sweater, thus taking up private, almost intimate motifs. At a time when it seems commonplace that music, in the form of digital files, has evaporated into the ubiquitous “cloud”, records, video and audio tapes are often seen as obsolete storage media. But as analog objects, they are direct impressions of events, of transmitted acoustic vibrations, which, precisely because they remain silent, open up a space for the viewer’s imagination, for subjective associations, thus forming a resonance space for a kind of inner listening.

Gregor Hildebrandt’s process for creating his works actually produces two images, similar to analog photography: a positive and a negative. Sound or video tapes mounted on canvases are further processed by the artist using acrylic paint, often with gestural markings reminiscent of abstract expressionist artists. The tapes are then peeled off again and, depending on how the canvas has been prepared, the magnetic layer may or may not stick to the canvas. The removed tapes themselves form a kind of negative of the first picture and are mounted on a second canvas, forming the complementary counterpart to the first picture, both carrying the same music and signs, only inverted, like flickering mirror images or echoes of barely remembered dreams.