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›Office Riot 2‹ 07/09/2018 — 09/11/2018

›Office Riot 2‹ 07/09/2018 — 09/11/2018

  • Drew Beattie
  • Ben Shepard

Frankfurt 07/09/2018 — 09/11/2018

Office ['äf-,'ôfis ], English for office, study, writing room.

Riot ['rīƏt], English for uprising, unrest, rebellion, riot, chaos, chaos.


The artist duo Drew Beattie and Ben Shepard met at the University of Chicago in 2004. In 2013 they decided to work together, the results of which were exhibited for the first time two years later under the name ›DBBS‹. Ben Shepard sums it up with the words ›The elective affinities worked out right, and we gave birth to a creative force. Call it DBBS.‹

We gave birth to a creative force. Call it DBBS.

Drew Beattie was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1952 and his works can be found in numerous international art museums. Since the 1970s he has taught at some of the best universities in the United States, including Harvard, Berkley and the University of California. Most recently, he has been a "Distinguished Lecturer" at Hunter College in New York since 2011. Ben Shepard, born in 1984, studied philosophy at the University of Chicago. He is currently working on various interdisciplinary projects, such as a university shared apartment that represents free, interdisciplinary teaching. He commutes between Shanghai and New York. More than 250 works by the DBBS duo will be on display at Lachenmann Art. Due to the large number of colorful acrylic works, the tour through the exhibition rooms turns into an almost overwhelming art experience. The works of the two artists are being shown exclusively at Lachenmann Art for the first time in Germany. The exhibited works all have the same dimensions (24 x 18 inches / 61 x 45.7 cm). Most of the works are in portrait format, a few are presented in landscape format. In terms of content, they consciously oscillate between figuration and abstraction and use a wide range of colors. Each work is self-contained and can be viewed individually, but its impact is multiplied by the unusual hanging and the unprecedented number of paper works presented simultaneously. The duo's impulsive dynamism can be felt everywhere. In addition to abstract and figurative elements, the sheets also contain literary elements and deal with political, historical and philosophical themes, as well as individual memories of the artists themselves.

A paper seems like a thought

Many artists use paper as a medium for preliminary sketches. For DBBS, who have also created large canvas works, the choice of paper as a background is a conscious decision that is intended to embody the fleetingness of thoughts, as Drew Beattie explains in an interview: ›A paper seems like a thought‹. A special feature is the joint creation of the works, the actual act of creating the individual sheets in collaboration between the two artists. During the work process, the sheets are horizontal, which gives the artists a bird's eye view and thus a holistic overview. The starting point for this act of creation is the intensive exchange of ideas on striking topics that are also questioned philosophically. They then devote themselves intensively to analyzing the choice of color and mix an average of seven to ten colors per sheet, which support the subject of the work and give it an individual impact.

In the New York art scene, the German artists Sigmar Polke (1941-2010) and Martin Kippenberger (1953-1997) are considered to be important post-war artists with a great influence on the contemporary American art that followed. Numerous elements and references from these and other artists, such as Jonathan Meese (*1970), can be found in the works of the DBBS duo as an inspirational impulse.

The collaboration is like an umbrella of energy. –Drew Beattie

Due to his affinity for the work of the German painters mentioned above, Drew Beattie had a desire to hold an exhibition in Germany years ago. We met Drew during the Gallery Weekend 2016 in Berlin through Alexander Iskin. Our visions for this major project coincided and after several months of planning and preparation, we are happy to finally be able to make this extraordinary exhibition ›Office Riot‹ accessible to the public.

Lachenmann Art, January 2018


Think of the burger.

There are many theories and approaches to explaining what it means to think. They all seem to assume that there are millions of individual units from which thoughts are carried out. However, they disagree about the causes or the specific places where thoughts arise from within these isolated entities. Some speak of neural networks, others refer to an immortal soul receiving divine inspiration. But they all consider it an action or process carried out by the solitary thinker, regardless of where it comes from or where it leads. Alone, even when thinking of others. All of this seems sad, unfair and wrong.

One only has to look at the range of drawings that Drew Beattie and Ben Shepard have created to reject these cruel notions and realize that thought is actually a being. A being that encompasses all of the universe and all of time, has no physical body and is warm and welcoming. We do not think, but enter thought. This being moves through us, feeds and reproduces itself from our actions, a self-replicating dimension of being. There are many ways to enter thought, but when it comes to DBBS, their journey always begins on the ground. The mood in which thought finds them there is happy, light and somewhat accelerated (which is why it had to lie down for a while). So the artists have their ground, their individual papers, the agreed paints and brushes, some feet, dust and dirt, moisture. Each of them acts as a stand-in for a bodily organ and together they form the song system of thought. At this point, thought has no time for individual concepts or comprehensible lines of reasoning. When he speaks, each sentence consists of four statements made simultaneously, and they all contradict and undermine each other, like jealous siblings fighting for attention. But these statements also love each other, so they start by mocking the others and end up forgetting which one they should be. The vocal system reworks itself to issue these statements and keep up with the manic pronouncements of thought.

But at what point do Beattie and Shepard enter this situation, you ask? The key is in the double cheeseburger. The four conflicting statements are like the customer at the drive-thru asking for his burger. He starts off by asking for a regular burger, but actually he'd prefer a soda, no, actually the burger should be made of soda, and, wait, wouldn't it be easier if you could just find an object that has all the qualities of a Coke and a burger but is neither? DBBS are the guys who have to prepare and deliver this order. What comes out of the kitchen, the burger, is represented by the drawings. But the burger is not the individual drawing, nor is it the connection of all of them as a series. The burger is the act of standing in front of the drawings, taking in all their changing qualities, and forging a new alphabet to name them. You are asked if God is back, and you answer by forcing that questioning through the color of sienna into an anthropomorphic pizza slice that Moses caresses and fuses with the divine lump of turquoise. That's the burger: your feeling, addressed by the question, emerging briefly and uncomfortably but not lonely, because even your silence is a communication inside the thought.

So you see, DBBS serves the burger and you're in, you're in. Maybe that's why we're talking about a double cheese burger? The two artists not only produce the drawings, but also give viewers a new form, melting them and placing them over the still large and mutating iridescence, a blanket of limp hieroglyphs lovingly laid on top.

Sebastian Gonzalez de Gortari

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