Julius Bobke @ Martin Mertens BERLIN

At 24 years of age, Julius Bobke is the second young painter from Berlin, after Pius Fox, whose work is already so autonomous, consistent and convincing amidst his studies at the UdK (University of Arts, Berlin) that we have given him a solo exhibition in the gallery.
Bobke’s work poses questions about the creation of a painting on a very fundamental level. What is a painting and what can it achieve? Is it only form and colour on a two-dimensional surface, a representation, a symbol for something depicted, or an independent object with its own logic and laws?
Bobke avoids any form of three-dimensionality or spatial illusions; his works remain strictly within their own surfaces and are anchored by their two-dimensionalities. This causes surface textures, proportion of shapes and relation of colours in the work to become all the more significant. Consequently, the treatment of the image carrier (canvas, nettle or other textiles) is very important to him. This is treated or marked with various chemicals, whereby the traces of these chemical reactions
(discolouring, decolouring) are then considered equal to the applied paint and significantly contribute to the composition.
In his paintings, bare surfaces are frequently visible either where the canvas has remained completely untreated, or where he has highlighted individual canvas threads with precise point-by-point colour markings to emphasise the fabric and its structure. In spite of all ’non-painting‘ and fundamental research, Bobke’s paintings are particularly fine compositions and his intuition for exciting image formations and harmonious colour tones is astonishing.
His sense of humour and playfulness is also noticeable. Bobke’s encodings, some of which are found in the work entitled “L” or the exhibition title “FFFFF”, remain a riddle and potentially suggest a profane still-life of flowers that provokes and amuses. These ciphers seem to encode a more important meaning, while persistently forbidding any clear interpretation. The letter “F” – which has already become a kind of trademark for Bobke – plays an important role with its supposed typographical legibility and supporting function, while simultaneously existing as a graphic and ordering element that embraces and accentuates the rectangular form of a painting.
Bobke’s enchantingly mysterious and thought-provoking works are reminiscent of English conversation pieces- objects from science or art that spark up conversation and stimulate lively discussions.
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