June 1 - July 1, 2023
Galerie EIGEN + ART Berlin
It’s as if someone switched on the light in Martin Eder’s pictures. Rather than darkened by an ominous storm, the pictures in the exhibition Elysium in the Galerie EIGEN + ART glow from within. Usually unclothed human figures or animals with fur or feathers (in this case, mostly the cute, cuddly sort) look at us from Eder’s paintings, but this time they do so always in fifty pastel shades. At first glance, they seem to lack every kind of darkness. But apart from the colors, something here is fundamentally different than before. More recent exhibitions of Eder’s work were titled Martyrium and Psychic, his current drone metal band calls itself Crysis, and its predecessor was named RUIN. Instead of exploring frightening corporeal-psychological states of emergency, Eder now enters Elysium – the Island of the Blessed, as described in Greek mythology. It is Paradise. Once one reaches it, healing, happiness, and idyll are in sight. Finally salvation.
In his Elysium pictures, for the first time (except for a rather concealed early appearance), Martin Eder stages himself as protagonist. Like a film director who has discovered the pleasure of shifting from his place behind the camera onto the film set, where, more or less recognizably, he walks through the picture in a few scenes, Eder emerges in Paradise as a figure clad in white. A guru whose dress takes its stylistic cue from the Savior?
At any rate, the Eder figure wears the Eder-typical gleam on its face. This gloss on his figures’ skin display this analog-Old Masterly painter as the inventor of what social-media filters today produce at the press of a button. But the painter does not clothe the faces and bodies with a sugar-coating of pixels that obliterates every supposed blemish, like pores, birthmarks, wrinkles, dents, bruises, and with them every humanity. Instead, Eder lends his figures a sweaty moisture whose origin is never really clear: does it stem from the heat surrounding his protagonists, or from their fundamentally somewhat unhealthy way of living?
But since there are no blemishes, no disease, no suffering, and thus also no death in Elysium, the fresh moisture on the figures’ skin must come from the dew on Paradise’s meadows. “Dewy”, as the beauty tutorials in the Internet call it. Yes, that must be it.
Translated by Mitch Cohen