Eberhard Havekost and Manish Nai both employ a sequence of direct visual cues, photography, digital alteration and manually applied pigment in their work; but the fundamental impulse behind their art as well as its visual impact are very different. The combination of modestly similar practice and profoundly contrasting aims allows for an intriguing conversation to flow back and forth between them.
Havekost’s paintings use the image overload of media-saturated society to hint at an alternative universe where direct perception has not been overwhelmed by internalized categories. His canvases appear easy to assimilate at first sight but prove on further examination to resist labels like ‘photorealist’, ‘beautiful’ or ‘critique of consumer society’. Havekost’s pictures unsettle us by refusing to collaborate in the process of familiarization, by staying distant instead of permitting intimacy.
Nai’s art is an act of sublimation. His inspiration lies in urban society at its least refined rather than its most sophisticated. In his sculptures, he compresses yards of sackcloth into convoluted panels that trigger a chain of visual associations. The starting point of his recent lens-based works is literally the gutter. He discovers and frames accidental beauty in a city where it sometimes seems beauty can emerge only by accident.
Born 1967 in Dresden, Havekost is a graduate of the Academy of Visual Arts, Dresden. Since the early 1990’s German painting and photography have enjoyed widespread international attention. More recently, a number of artists emanating from the prominent cultural centres of Berlin, Leipzig and Dresden have, like their British contemporaries (the YBA's) been labelled the ‘Young German Artists’: Eberhard Havekost is considered amongst its most leading practitioners. His work has been the subject of important exhibitions such as New Realities. From Warhol to Havekost – Photography in the Medium of Print held at the Kupferstichkabinett, SMPK, Berlin (2011) and Structure and Absence, White Cube Gallery, London (2011). A retrospective sourced from the Rubell Family Collection was held at the Tampa Museum of Art in Florida in 2007. The artist currently lives and works between Dresden and Berlin.
Born 1980 in Gujarat, India, Manish Nai attained a Diploma in Drawing and Painting at the L.S. Raheja School of Art, Mumbai. Amongst other exhibitions, Nai’s work has been shown recently in ZNE – Examples to Follow at the Prince of Wales Museum, Mumbai (2012) and Home Spun at Devi Art Foundation in New Delhi (2011). Nai is a recipient of the Socrates Sculpture Park Residency, New York (2011) and the North Rhine-Westphalia Artist Grant (2012). He lives and works in Mumbai.