KÖNIG GALERIE presents the first solo show by Johanna Dumet in the CHAPEL of ST. AGNES. In LA VIE EN ROUGE, the French artist shows five oil paintings on canvas and one work on paper she created during the last twelve months. In two series of contemporary yet timeless still lifes and interiors, Dumet uses a bold colour palette to depict her ideal of a hedonistic way of life: spending time with friends, celebration, and indulgent dining are overarching themes in these works.
Berlin's legendary Paris Bar is the setting for Dumet's most recent series of works named LA VIE EN ROUGE, which gave the exhibition its title. In PARIS BAR (2021), a large-scale painting in oil on canvas, Dumet copies Martin Kippenberger's famous 1991 painting of the same title in its original size, though she exchanges the artworks hung on the wall in the painting with her personal favourites. Alongside modernist masters such as Henri Rousseau and Henri Matisse, there are also works by a younger generation of artists, such as a sculpture by her partner Manuel Wroblewski and two of her own paintings. She also selects works by Karl Horst Hödicke, Joseph Beuys, Danny Fox, Tal R, Conny Maier, Navot Miller, David Shrigley, Jonathan Meese, and Julian Schnabel, whom she met at Paris Bar. Following Daniel Richter, whose copy of Kippenberger’s painting can currently be seen in Paris Bar, Dumet is the first female painter to bring this particular motif into our time.
THAT EVENING I SMOKED IN PARIS BAR (2021) depicts a table scene with black-and-white tiles and the edge of a red sofa signalling that it is situated in the Paris Bar. As a further reference, Dumet has pasted the receipt of a dinner on the canvas and integrated it into the composition. All of the items listed here can also be found in the painting: oysters, champagne, tarte tatin and more. The eaten dishes and emptied bottles form a still life in which the presence of the guests can be sensed through handbags by Prada and Bottega Veneta placed on the table. While such symbols of luxury recur in Dumet's paintings, and anchor the works to our time, the artist clearly focuses on depicting a different kind of quality of life: the luxury of taking time out and meeting friends over a good meal.
LA VIE EN ROUGE (2021) is also the title of the smallest work in the series. Here, the artist has drawn with red wine on paper. In reference to Edith Piaf's famous chanson 'La Vie En Rose' from 1945, which is an ode to love, or a view through rose-coloured glasses, Dumet tints the interior of the restaurant in the hues of four different wines. For the artist, the light purple is closely associated with her visits to Paris Bar: 'We all know these colours from the bit of spilled wine on an immaculate white tablecloth in the restaurant or on our white shirt. It's the colour of memory and celebration to me.'
In this sense, Dumet's scenes from the Paris Bar are a continuation of her series 'LES PETITS OBJETS DU DÉSIR' from 2020. These 'small objects of desire' are luxury foods and alcoholic drinks, such as a cold beer, a bottle of white wine or champagne on tables richly set with seafood. These scenes mostly capture the artist's memories of her life in France or convivial dinners in Berlin and Denmark. For Dumet, drinks are often the starting point for social gatherings, whether meeting for coffee or a glass of wine. Thus, the French phrase 'se retrouver autour d'une bonne bouteille' (meet over a good bottle) is the series' guiding slogan.
By referring to icons of pop culture, such as the Paris Bar and Edith Piaf, as well as to fashion and the depiction of luxury objects, Johanna Dumet transforms the traditional genres of still life and interior painting into contemporary snapshots of conviviality, joie de vivre, and indulgence. In doing so, the artist strikes a chord with a pandemic-ridden time in which the ever-present longing for lightheartedness and companionship is particularly strong.
Johanna Dumet (born 1991 in Guéret, France) lives and works in Berlin. After graduating in fashion design, she began painting as an autodidact in 2012. Her work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions in Germany, Spain, and Denmark, at Mutuo Centro de Arte, Barcelona (2012); Det Gamle Redningshus, Anholt (2017, 2018, 2019), and KEWENIG, Berlin (2020), among other places. In March this year she designed nine pages for Vogue Russia and in September she was among the finalists for the TOY Berlin Masters Award 2021.
Press release courtesy KÖNIG GALERIE.
Exhibition view: Johanna Dumet, La vie en rouge, KÖNIG GALERIE, Chapel, Berlin (6 November–17 December 2021). Courtesy KÖNIG GALERIE. Photo: © Roman März.