In Franz Ackermann’s (b. 1963) paintings and installations, the mental sensation of moving in time and space is central; from one geographical place to another, through diverse urban societies and between different cultures and contexts. Dense, cell-like forms frequent his paintings and drawings. Connected by grids of organic lines they give associations to maps and aerial photos of the earth, but also to electronic printed circuits and to human organs and tissue.
It was when the Royal Institute of Technology [KTH] in Stockholm was refurbishing the fifty entrances to its premises that the Berlin-based artist was asked to add an artistic dimension. His intervention starts at the main entrance and spreads from there to eleven other places on the campus.
Franz Ackermann painted his first “mental maps” during the early years of the 1990s. These were in the form of small watercolour paintings inspired by the artist’s movement through a city or metropolis. In due course his works increased in scale and nowadays he works with large wall-paintings that integrate photographs, texts and objects to create spatial installations. He weaves together a complex fabric of mental and physical sensations of travelling with the selected images of other cultures, societies and parts of the world presented in media and advertising. At first sight his work might appear visually attractive and beautiful but as we look more closely, the subject of a photograph or painted detail can shatter the lovely idyll and leave us with a disagreeable after-taste.
A recurring theme in Franz Ackermann’s art is his interest in how urban societies change in a world subject to international showdowns and an increasingly globalized economy. His installations cause us to reflect on our human ability to create technological systems that make the earth smaller and smaller and to think about our inability to live together side by side in this rapidly shrinking world. The dream of Paradise is ever present, but of ten in the form of a streamlined and uni-directed tourist industry.