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opening reception: Thursday, December 20, 6-8pm

Churner and Churner is pleased to present the woodcuts, collages, and paintings of artist Nils Karsten in his first solo exhibition with the gallery. In “Suburbia Hamburg 1983,” Karsten displays woodcut prints of album covers and historic typewritten moments from the punk and postpunk movements that were formative to him during his suburban adolescence in Hamburg, Germany. These images of the punk ethos represent not only the upheaval of Karsten’s teenage years, but also the social and political upheaval found in Germany in the 1970s and 80s.

Woodcut prints comprise the main body of work in “Suburbia Hamburg 1983,” a humble art form that ushered in a remarkable democratization of art during the early Renaissance in Western Europe. Karsten equates the history of the woodcut, an art form with a rich tradition in his native country, with the antiestablishment culture of punk. Expanding the 12-by-12-inch dimensions of the album to absurd proportions, Karsten then uses precision dental instruments to carve into a 6-by-6-foot plywood block. The finished woodcut is then printed by hand onto rough, heavy, paper. Blown up to such a scale, these familiar images are rendered both foreign and nostalgic. Seeing the woodcut and the print together only heightens incongruent emotions, as the distinction between art object and process become blurred. In a similar manner, the cold precision of Karsten’s Chronicles – journalistic descriptions of moments in punk history – emit the neutral record-keeping of an On Kawara, while simultaneously exhibiting deep and personal meaning for the artist.
Nils Karsten received his BFA from the School of Visual Arts in 1999, participated in the Skowhegan program in 2002, and received his MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2003. Since then, he has been a faculty member at the School of Visual Arts in New York. His work has been shown in galleries and museums throughout the U.S., and internationally, with solo exhibitions at Contrasts Gallery in Shanghai, China; Earl McGrath in Los Angeles; Marvelli Gallery, New York; and Ubu Gallery, New York. He has participated in recent group exhibitions at the Museum of Art and Design in New York; the Islip Art Museum, Long Island, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts Houston; and the Pera Museum in Istanbul, Turkey. Karsten currently lives and works in Brooklyn.


“The woodcut might seem like a rather staid choice for relating memories of punk rock, but in Nils Karsten’s hands, the old-fashioned printing technique—German in origin—neatly evokes the raw energy of the music scene the artist encountered as a teen in Hamburg.”

Rob Shuster, “Best in Show: Gone Vicious”, The Village Voice (January 9, 2013)