Imperium Schlemihlium, Uwe Henneken’s (Paderborn, 1974) first solo presentation in the Netherlands, maps the farthestreaches of the wonderful and wayward universe created bythe artist in recent years. The exhibition brings togethersculptures and paintings in an installation that covers the full thematic spectrum of Henneken’s oeuvre.
Henneken’s work can leave the viewer with a sense of bewilderment. The artist employs a wide variety of styles andvisual angles, in which references to both the cartoonesque and the history of landscape painting play a dominant role. He plays an intricate game with notions such as ‘signaturestyle’, and stylistic anachronism. With their high-octane colour schemes and fairytale vocabulary, Henneken’s paintings and objects speak of Arcadian landscapes and lost kingdoms, but a manifest ambiguity allows them to resist all too straightforward interpretation.
The protagonists in Henneken’s work are often anti-heroes: colourful, yet somewhat clumsy figures who view their surroundings with obvious wonder, ready to take off if needbe. The artist uses them as a kind of cultural commentators, merely passing through in a world that is itself in constant flux and fully aware of its inevitable demise. Imperium Schlemihlium negotiates controlled playfulness and burning desire, and is probably best described as a contemporary conceptual allegory of our understanding of ‘culture’ and of the human condition.