From Renoir’s ‘Bathers’ to Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’, artists have through the ages been interested in cleanliness and bathroom ablutions. In this edition entitled ‘Mass’, Johannes Albers brings the household bathmat into focus. Printed with ink on canvas, Albers achieves a three-dimensional effect, the mass of fibres wriggling for attention on the flat, monochrome plane. At once abstract and comforting, ‘Mass’ is awash with ambiguity. Here is a bathmat intended to be hung from your wall, not left to soak in the bathroom. Albers admits “I wasn’t a scientist, so my ideas and solutions didn’t have to be watertight… I wanted to do something different”
Reproducing images of popular culture and everyday domesticity, Johannes Albers’ work seems to simultaneously praise and poke fun at modern-day interests and values. Starting out with the intention to ‘do the opposite of what was really hip’, Albers’ work has encompassed a range of printed motifs, from bathmats to band tapes, ping-pong tables to Stanley knives.
His incessant reproduction of these images reflects – and criticises – the disposability of much of today’s media culture and marketing imagery. His intention is to ‘one day see the uncorrupted mirror-images of this world. A twin world with extensions or channels into the real world’.
Founder of the now-defunct Club Vernissage – a two-man group with dogmas ranging from ‘Marketing is Bullshit’ to ‘Celebrities are Monkeys’ – Albers went on to pursue his own vision; a vision which, at its core, retains the desire to be always ‘different’. Whether idolising analogue compilation cassettes – scrawled with ‘CLASH’ and ‘Joy Division’ – or flattening a fuzzy bathmat across a sharp monochrome plane, Albers’ work remains positioned firmly outside the status quo.
Johannes Albers was born in Lingen, Germany, in 1966, and graduated from Goldsmiths’ College in 1990. He has exhibited in various exhibitions, including ‘Some went mad, some ran away’ (1994) at the Serpentine Gallery, London, ‘Free as a bird’ (1996) and ‘The good the bad and the ugly’ (1997) both at the Sophiensale, Berlin, as well as numerous Club Vernissage (2000-2) projects: ‘Marketing is Bullshit’, ‘Celebrities are monkeys’, and ‘Pop is Disgusting’. More recent exhibitions have included ‘Gute, Alte Arbeiten’ (2004) at the Galerie Khadr, Berlin, as well as ‘Neue Arbeiten’ (2005) and ‘Lazy artists in times of record sales covered by the yellow press’ (2006) at Raum 58, Munich. A freelance journalist since 1997, Albers currently lives in Berlin.