Karin Christiansen and Lys Hansen: The Other Side – A Dialogue
REVIEW PAINTING & SCULPTURE
Collins Gallery, Glasgow, until Sat 16 Aug (closed Fri 18–Mon 21 Jul)
Lou Reed had never been to Berlin before he wrote his doomed rock opera named after the then divided city. If he had, it might have been even bleaker than it is in its current concert revival. Karin Christiansen and Lys Hansen, on the other hand, know Berlin beyond the junkie romance, as a place of institutionalised brutality and a collective psyche split in two.
This summit meeting between Scotland-based Hansen and German-born Christiansen is a figurative look from both sides, now, at a past gone mad that should never be forgotten. Hansen’s work is dominated by busy, large-scale dreamscapes (one tellingly called ‘Lust For Life’) in which figures tumble, are beaten or kick out at their oppressors, coloured deep red and purple like a bruise.
Christiansen’s series of monochrome heads is more defined, less angled, and even more evocative of their subject. The oversized, monumental heads that dominate the room resemble ornamental African carvings more than anything European.
Christiansen and Hansen are from the generation Jeff Nuttall wrote about in his seminal analysis of the 1960s counter-cultural fallout, ‘Bomb Culture.’ Already shell-shocked on both sides of the border, the move from guilt to rebellion to impassioned empathy is self-evident. Tellingly, too, both artists explore the possibility of new life born into the rubble, be it surviving against all odds or else strangled at birth.