On November 1, 2019, HVW8 Gallery in Berlin will open While I Was Measuring The Sky, A Surprised Meteorite Fell On My Head, new paintings by Manuel Osterholt/SuperBlast. In bursts of neon paint, Osterholt configures symbolic odes to our human condition and mortality. Through his use of vivid and unnatural colors, elements of nature, the celestial and the otherworldly are transfigured into warning signs, as if illuminated by the prophetic glow from an explosion elsewhere. Like a heatwave in fall, the paintings whisper age-old fables in the flicker of pink-orange candle light: an ancient cycle of birth and destruction binds humanity and the natural world. Osterholt also presents a series of ceramic masks which reference both the traditions of ancient ceremony and ritual, and hiding in plain sight. These themes are unified in the glow of a lightbox installation, which features in the show as a symbolic gesture towards the tension between light and dark.
While these works possess Osterholt’s signature iconography, the artist embraces a looser mode of expression than his usually-refined graphic style. Painterly strokes and sketchiness signal a renewed urgency in his message, as well as a playfulness which refracts remembered summers of his youth among the olive trees in Greece. The lucid mythologies encoded in the works also instigate a dialogue with the viewer about sacred tales of morality. Framed by the title’s impossible endeavour of “measuring the sky,” Osterholt’s work brings into question the role of the ego in the imbalance between good and evil. Through the mirroring of forms such as raindrops and flames, a microcosm emerges for the stardust from which we came, and that to which we’ll return. —Brit Seaton