Neil Farber: A Formal Declaration of Hummingbirds
September 6, 2008-October 4, 2008
Opening: Friday, September 5, 7-10pm
A Formal Declaration of Hummingbirds is Canadian artist Neil Farber's first individual show in Germany. Farber is one of the original members of the Winnipeg artist's group Royal Art Lodge, along with Marcel Dzama and Jon Pylypchuk. Since its founding in 1996, the group has produced a wide range of products of fantasy that have proved to set the path for the future development of the participants on an international terrain.
Neil Farber's art emerges in an obsessive process; with colorful ink details, the pictures seem on first glance reminiscent of innocent children's illustrations. The scenarios revolve around universal themes like childhood, death, power, horror, catastrophes, cloaked in a magical-playful naïveté of beauty and humor. There are lions and monkeys in human poses, women in girly clothing with an innocent or stupid look on their faces, fire-spitting wolf dogs, and floods of water devouring people. In their style, their mysteriousness, and their clichéd-nature, Farber's motifs seem to come from the world of fairy tales and sagas: little girls that look like Little Red Riding Hood are threatened by leopards or are subjected to forest fires in the company of demonic beings.
Crime Scene is a cross-section view of a several-story house; in its comic book style, it is reminiscent of drawings in which children portray family idylls of "father, mother, and child." But Farber collects all sorts of macabre murder victims under this roof: typical little figures wearing skeletons like a suit whose facial features betray no pain. Their horrific fate is only made clear by the missing limbs and the blood-red writing. Room after room we see victims of knife wounds or scalpels, figures that met with their demise by getting stabbed, carved, beheaded, or slaughtered. Crime Scene is like a statistical study of the violence of humanity that makes us think of adult cartoons or the perfidious register of sins in Dante's Divine Comedy.
Other works are populated by caricature-like human masses that have fallen victim to apocalyptic floods. They borrow from the Christian iconography of the unredeemed and the resurrected, but the traditional appearance of a Redeemer is entirely lacking.
With an unsentimental dry humor Neil Farber collages nightmares of our collective memory and the everyday madness of the here and now. His works combine childhood trauma and adult fantasies and thus grasp the psychological depths that constitute human essence.