contemporary art / history of art

Artwork of the Month / December 2020

Gefällt mir! (I Like it)
Kirsten Klöckner

Watercolour, ink on paper
29,7 cm x 21 cm

Kirsten Klöckner’s painting “Gefällt mir!“ (I Like it) shows a closed fist with the thumb extended upward. Obviously, it reminds of the Like-button of Facebook, due to its silhouette and the blue wrist. However, the hand is executed in grey to black shades and its thumb is overstretched backward. A red coloured splotch covers the sharp bend. Red colour splashes spread around.

“I Like it” is part of Kirsten’s newest series “Emojis”, which refers to comment symbols known from social media. Caused by the corona crisis, the artist uses the internet even more than before. And she came across emojis that reveal little of their intended statement. Considering the steadily increasing number of pictograms this is no surprise. On the other hand, the given statement buttons are often limited to express the real feelings about an information, article, image or film.

Therefore, the artist decided to create her own emojis. Since the beginning of November, and until the end of December 2020, she publishes a painting with a new expression on her social media accounts and on her website every day. The subjects vary: some might be used as statement, others are more an expression of personal mood and still others reflect on ideas. What they have all in common is that they are not existing only virtually, but also as unique originals painted with watercolour and ink on paper in the format DIN A 4 (29,7 cm x 21 cm). The choice of this common size for documents of any type, is a reference to its seriality and with this a hint to conformity, both physical and digital. It is a mutual interplay between digital and real world and back into the virtual reality.

Additionally, Kirsten encourages her public to signal other missing emojis. This interaction with the audience is typical in her oeuvre. Already for her series of “desired images”, she asked people to tell her their wishes to illustrate them. It is part of her long-term project BeuteKunst (looted art). In all of the – so far – three sequences, the presentation of the inspiring sources was an important component. The project ventures title underlines that the artist “steals” for her artistic creations.

In her series “Emojis” Kirsten proceeds similarly. In many of these images are components, reminding the round yellow smileys. Whereas “I Like it” is animated by the omnipresent Like-button of Facebook and other social media platforms. Imitating the common hand gesture “thumbs-up” this symbol signalises consent. However, Kirsten’s illustration evidently differs from the digital icon. In contrast to the idealised pictogram, the single fields are not filled by a homogeneous colour. Hence, the skin of the fist appears grainy, marked with scars and pustules, a more lively presentation. The overstretched thumb deforms the symbol. Finally, the red splashes – splattering blood – give a rather painful impression than a positive.

With regard to the widely applied Like-button, one could think of physical injury of the user. This might be caused by overuse or incorrect statement. Additionally, it could be a warning, considering the commercial data evaluation. Applied to create personality profiles these data have an enormous economic relevance and are a step in direction of transparent humans. Or is it perhaps only a splatter image, ironizing the famous icon?


Kirsten Klöckner

Born 1962 in Braunschweig, Germany, Kirsten studied sculpture at the Academy of Arts, Münster. 1990 she opened the edition-gallery “Edition Klöckner” in Düsseldorf. Here she publishes graphics and multiples inter alia from A.R. Penck, Sigmar Polke, Klaus Staeck. Besides, she offers her own multiples, paintings (as original, graphic print or postcard) and books about her artistic projects. One of her multiples, “Kompliment” (Compliment) is our artwork of the month in July 2017.

Kirsten’s works have been shown in many personal and group exhibitions. Moreover, her works are in several major art collections, for example in the Kunstmuseum am Ehrenhof Düsseldorf (today Museum Kunstpalast), Sammlung Falckenberg, Hamburg and the art collection of the Landesbank Baden-Württemberg.

In painting, Kirsten’s main medium are large-sized lacquered and often vivid pigmented watercolours. Since 2012 she works on her project BeuteKunst (looted art), meanwhile consisting of three parts with different sources of inspiration. Initially stimulated by a visit in the Kunstarchiv Beeskow (Art Archive Beeskow) she created paintings including elements of the oeuvres from the archive. For BeuteKunst II, she selected living persons to be her muses. Resulting are not portraits in the conventional sense. In 2014, the artist started her “Wunschprogramm” (desired programme) as third part of BeuteKunst. Friends, chance acquaintances and contacts on social networks can express their wishes. These dreams, ideas and longings find a visual expression in the thereof emerging paper works as “Wunschbilder” (desired images). Our artwork of the month in March 2015 is from BeuteKunst III. Another desired image, “Toleranzvirus” (Tolerance-Virus) became an award for people, who are in a particular way engaged for tolerance in our society by the association Aproto. For the year 2021, the artist released a calendar with 12 of her desired images, one for each month.

Currently, Kirsten works on a new series of “Emojis”, which could broaden the limited possibilities of expression used in social media. Since the beginning of November until 31st December 2020, she publishes every day one of the images in the social media. This is thought as sort of an expanded Advent calendar. The originals in watercolour and ink on paper are in format DIN A4 (29,7 cm x 21 cm). These paintings in a – for the artist – quite unusual small size are part of “Edition Klöckner”. “Gefällt mir!“ (I Like it) from this series is our artwork of the month in December 2020.

Since 2002, Kirsten lives and works in Berlin.