Text from M.A. Katrin Klietsch, (Kunstgeschichte/ Anglistik) heute PhD Candidate im IPP Europäische Urbanistik der Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, 2018

(english version below):

CATEGORY BOARDS

Gabriela Kobus’ CATEGORY BOARDS bilden eine Serie großformatiger Objektskizzen in Form ausgesparter Silhouetten in Holzplatten.

Ihre Sammlungen freigestellter Umrisse beschreiben Prototypen urbaner Protagonisten unterschiedlicher örtlicher und sozialer Herkunft, sowie deren imaginierte Ausstattungsmerkmale.

Die Arbeiten dieser Reihe stellen sowohl inhaltlich als auch formal vielfältige Behauptungen auf. Zum einen wird eine subjektive Zuschreibung von Identitäten samt dazugehöriger Attribute vorgenommen, die bestehende Klischees und Vorurteile unkommentiert reproduzieren. Zum anderen erinnern die Arbeiten formal an Kontexte musealer Dokumentationen, - von Schau- oder Lehrtafeln und projizieren so einen mutmaßlich fundierten Wahrheitsanspruch.

In Form pseudowissenschaftlicher Hypothesen, spielt Kobus mit einer überspitzten Reduktion von gesellschaftlicher Komplexität. Als Produzentin subjektiver Wirklichkeitenkonstruktionen hinterfragt sie die tendenziöse Wahrnehmung geschlossener sozialer Systeme; analysiert Muster von Inklusion und Exklusion. So stellt sie einmal die Rolle von äußeren Merkmalen, verstanden als gesellschaftliche Codes, die den Zugang zu bestimmten physischen und sozialen Räumen ermöglichen oder verwehren, zur Diskussion. Weiter verweisen die umrissenen Chiffre gesellschaftlicher Kategorisierung auf die gegenwärtigen Bewertungen von Statussymbolen und deren Bedeutung für die Identifikationen von Individuen.

Inwieweit Kobus sich damit einer Wahrheit anzunähern versucht, bleibt ungewiss. Vielmehr eröffnen ihre behaupteten Realitäten vielfältige Möglichkeiten des kritischen Diskurses unterschiedlicher Erfahrungen und geben Raum für denkbare Neupositionierungen.


PAINTING

Zentraler Themenkomplex Gabriela Kobus’ künstlerischer Auseinandersetzungen ist der der urbanen Strukturen.

Sie kombiniert urbane Phänomene zu einer Matrix, deren Dynamik von Verdichtung und Auflösung, Vernetzung und Gleichzeitigkeit für ihre Arbeiten bezeichnend ist. In der Konstruktion dieser Welten werden metropolitane Muster durch Aufhebung des konkreten Ortes zum reinen Raum stilisiert. Kobus erschafft Nicht-Orte im ursprünglichen Sinn. Die Architektur verbleibt letztlich als Spur, als Sinnbild menschlichen Zusammenlebens, als gebaute Projektion sozialer Form.

Dabei schenkt sie den räumlichen Bedingungen informeller Strukturen, wie sie vor allem an den Peripherien urbaner Ballungsräume zu finden sind, besondere Aufmerksamkeit. Abseits offizieller Planungen entfaltet sich hier, in erzwungener Selbstorganisation, ein Potential emergenter Entwicklungen, das in vielfältig konstruktiven und dynamischen Prozessen, jedoch auch in destruktiven Episoden seinen Ausdruck findet. 

In zahlreichen formalen Schichtungen baut Kobus wuchernde Ensemble, die gleichermaßen von struktureller Expressivität und Beklemmung zeugen. So kann die Spannung der reinen Struktur nicht gänzlich über die beunruhigende Wirkung der Gemäuer hinwegtäuschen; zementierte Geometrie, in der kein Lebewesen auszumachen ist. Und doch ist diesem engen Nebeneinander von Behausungen das Potential von Geborgenheit und konstruktiver Kraft eingeschrieben.
Eben dieser Ambivalenz von Undurchdringlichkeit und Nähe verdanken Kobus’ Arbeiten ihre Spannung.

Kobus spielt in ihren Malereien mit verschiedenen Modi der Betrachtung von urbanen Gefügen. So ermöglichen ihre Kompositionen, mal kulissenhaft, mal als Modell, unterschiedliche Zugänge zum Raum. Wie die baulichen Formen, mal sehr klar gefasst, mal vage ausgeführt, bildet das dargestellte Terrain zuweilen eine scharfkantige Trennung zum Horizont oder löst sich im Ungewissen auf. Die monochromen Konstruktionen werden teils in ein irreal wirkendes Licht getaucht und entrücken das Sujet so der alltäglichen Wirklichkeit.



’MY FAVOURITE THINGS': 

A passion for Cairo captured in Mashrabiya Gallery's exhibition
An excerpt of the Interview/Text from Rania Khallaf, Cairo, Tuesday 8 Oct 2019:


Cairo is among the highlights of Gabriela Kobus's exhibition where collages and installations express different views of the artists’ intimate worlds.

“My favorite things” is the title of an interesting group exhibition by female artists from Egypt and Germany. The exhibition, currently on show at the Mashrabiya Gallery downtown, includes paintings, collages and installations expressing different views of the artists’ intimate worlds.

Oil paintings and collages featuring an architectural view of different parts of Cairo by Gabriela Kobus captured my attention at once. Kobus finished her interdisciplinary studies of design and art at the Faculty of Design at Pforzheim University, Germany. After graduating she moved to Berlin where she worked as a freelance head of design for international brands. In 2010 she decided to quit the fashion business and moved to Leipzig where she now lives and works as a visual artist.

“The fashion field was a very interesting domain, of course, but I wanted to do art. Fashion is about the clothes you wear, the layer, which protects you as a human being. Architecture, houses and buildings in general play a similar role: another layer that holds humans within. They protect us from the outer environment,“ she told me. “My art, however, is usually empty of human elements. I want to show my vision of art from an architectural perspective. I am fascinated with the architecture of mega cities like Cairo, and Shanghai.”

Kobus developed a great passion for Cairo even before visiting it. This is her second visit. Her first took place in March, when she came at her own expense to explore the city. She was back to Cairo in early September as she was invited for a two-week residency funded by the Out of the Circle foundation in Cairo and IFA, the German Institute of Foreign Cultural Connections in Germany. The paintings and collages on show are a reflection of her perception of Cairo after her first visit.

A black and white silkscreen print entitled All in One and dating back to 2017 features a juxtaposed abstract composition of pictures of cities and settlements from all over the world, Rome, Lagos, Cairo and others. Another collage of pictures from different places in Cairo is equally amazing. Huge buildings, air conditioning pumps, bridges and road signs inscribed in Arabic, and above all that the dome of a mosque, all juxtaposed in harmony, reflect the chaotic mega city.

A fascinating oil painting features a bird’s eye view of the roofs of intersecting buildings, which in this monochrome abstract composition look like an intimate gathering of neighbours in a shanty town. Although cold colours are used, they convey warmth. Another, huge oil painting on cardboard is entitled The Tower.

“I am fascinated with towers. I believe people build towers to have a higher perspective on their surroundings. During my September days, I visited the city of the dead, beside Magra Al-Uyoun, and different areas in Giza and New Cairo, a very well planned area which is completely the opposite in its present state. I find myself fascinated with the narrow alleyways and shanty town, buildings that grow out of nowhere, and how people manage their lives in such limited spaces among Cairo’s diversity of architectural styles. I have been to almost every place in the city either on foot or by car. I wonder how such settlements developed. I see it like an organic growth, as they are not planned according to an organised architectural plan. I grew up in a small and quiet city, as is the case with most cities in Germany. However, I discovered my love of big cities when I had my internship in Paris before graduation…”
...
For her residency project in Cairo, Kobus invented a kind of paper recording. She roams the streets in a car, with a driver who takes her wherever she wants to look, and all the while she has a long roll of paper on which she is drawing sketches. “This a is very exciting, exhausting and intuitive artistic process with the scene changing every minute,“ she said smiling. “I am planning to come back next year to exhibit this new project.”

Kobus is planning for a group exhibition in Leipzig featuring 8 artists and a curatorial team from Germany and Egypt in April 2020.


Katrin Klietsch/english text

PAINTING

The central theme of Gabriela Kobus' artistic examinations is that of urban structures. 

She combines urban phenomena into a matrix whose dynamics of compression and dissolution, cross-linking and simultaneity are characteristic of her works. In the construction of these complex worlds, metropolitan patterns are stylized into pure space by abolishing the concrete location. Kobus creates non-places in the original sense. 

In doing so, she pays special attention to the spatial conditions of informal structures, such as those found especially on the peripheries of urban agglomerations. Away from official planning, a potential of emergent developments unfolds here, in forced self-organization, which finds expression in manifold constructive and dynamic processes, but also in destructive episodes. 

In numerous formal layers, Kobus builds a proliferating ensemble that testifies equally to structural expressiveness and anxiety. Thus the tension of the pure structure cannot completely hide the worrying effect of the walls; concreted geometry in which no living being can be discerned. And yet the potential of familiarity and constructive power is inscribed in this close juxtaposition of dwellings. 

It is precisely this ambivalence of impenetrability and closeness that Kobus' works owe their tension to.

In her paintings, Kobus plays with various modes of observing urban structures. Thus her compositions, sometimes scene-like, sometimes as models, allow different approaches to space. Like the structural forms, sometimes very clearly defined, sometimes vaguely executed, the terrain depicted sometimes forms a sharp-edged separation from the horizon or dissolves into the unknown. Some of the constructions are immersed in an unreal light, thus moving the subject away from everyday reality.


CATEGORY BOARDS

Gabriela Kobus' CATEGORY BOARDS are a series of large-scale object sketches in the form of recessed silhouettes.
Her collections of outlines describe prototypes of urban protagonists of different local and social backgrounds, as well as their imagined features.

The works in this series make a variety of assertions in terms of content and form. On the one hand, a subjective attribution of identities and associated attributes is made, which reproduce existing clichés and prejudices without comment. On the other hand, the works formally remind one of contexts of museum documentations, of display or educational panels, and thus project a supposedly substantiated claim to truth.

In the form of pseudoscientific hypotheses, Kobus plays with an exaggerated reduction of social complexity. As a producer of subjective constructions of reality, Kobus questions the tendentious perception of closed social systems; she analyzes patterns of inclusion and exclusion. She puts the role of external features, understood as social codes that enable or deny access to certain physical and social spaces, up for discussion. Furthermore, the outlined cipher of social categorization refers to the current evaluations of status symbols and their significance for the identification of individuals.

To what extent Kobus tries to approach a truth remains uncertain. On the contrary, their alleged realities open up manifold possibilities for a critical discourse of different experiences and leave room for imaginable repositioning.