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Phantoms and Other Illusions

Dove Allouche, Ismaël Joffroy Chandoutis, Alice Channer, Wolfgang Ellenrieder, Friederike Feldmann, Anaïs Lelièvre, Echo Can Luo, Marge Monko, Nedko Solakov, David Zink Yi

Exhibition: February 10 – September 3, 2023

Curator: Ludwig Seyfarth

Visual deceptions, spatial illusions and suggestions of specific material qualities with completely different materials were already to be found in pictorial and sculptural representations of antiquity. In modern art, however, methods of illusion and deception were rather disapproved of. As Ernst H. Gombrich states in his book Art and Illusion (1960), the ability of craftsmen to imitate nature faithfully was no longer regarded as a genuine artistic quality. Only in the realm of surrealism was it used extensively, in order to make fictions and fantasy worlds appear real.

The penchant for illusion, however, would never be entirely suppressed. Even Conceptual Art, which is generally reluctant to employ lavish visual delights and still exerts its influence on the judgements of taste and art-theoretical discourses today, was interspersed with elements of illusionism. Besides, it would be almost absurd if artists today were not concerned with illusions – considering the increasing number of images and things around us that reveal less and less of how they came about and what degree of reality they possess. Like phantoms, they hover in the space between reality and fiction.

In the exhibition Phantoms and other Illusions, the play with an array of materials between naturalness and artificiality is juxtaposed with objects and installations that fictionalize our experience of space. The equally alluring and delusive promises of advertising and fashion are also questioned through artistic means. Not least, the different semantic layers underlying the concept of illusion are up for debate – including the psychological and political levels.

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Exhibition leaflet

Background information on the exhibition and all the artists can be found here

Accompanying program

, 7 pm

Phantoms and Other Illusions: Opening

Welcome: Monika Schnetkamp, Chairwoman Arthena Foundation
Introduction: Ludwig Seyfarth, Curator of the exhibition

, 7 pm

Panel Discussion | Brush and paint - only an illusion? Painting at the interface of digital image production

Dr. Reinhard Spieler, art historian, director of the Sprengel Museum Hanover
Julia Stellmann, art historian, art critic and cultural cultural manager, Düsseldorf
Wolfgang Ellenrieder, artist of the exhibition, Munich and Professor of Painting at the University of Fine Arts Braunschweig
in conversation with Ludwig Seyfarth, curator of the exhibition

, 7 pm , 1 am

Düsseldorf’s Night of the Museums 2023

7.30–8 pm, 8.30–9 pm

Short tours through the exhibition Phantoms and Other Illusions
7 pm, 9.30 pm, 10.30 pm

To the ticket presale for the Düsseldorf Night of Museums

, 7 pm

Panel discussion

Panel discussion with Echo Can Luo, Ismaël Joffroy Chandoutis, Ursula Panhans-Bühler and Mischa Kuball (in englisch)

An event in cooperation with the Academy of Media Arts, Cologne

Event takes place at KAI 10 | ARTHENA FOUDATION

, 7 pm

Screening and talk

Screening and talk with Echo Can Luo and Ismaël Joffroy Chandoutis (in englisch)

An event in cooperation with the Academy of Media Arts, Cologne

Event takes place at KHM, Cologne (Aula)

, 7 pm

Panel discussion | Inspiration, medium, competition? How digital image cultures are changing the art world

Panel discussion with Magdalena Kröner, Wolfgang Ullrich & Mario von Kelterborn

Digital image cultures are changing art, and not only in a virtual way. If today "furniture, make-up, protest rallies or handbags can be varieties of art", as Wolfgang Ullrich observes, this would hardly be imaginable without a globalised world shaped by digital communication. Is the value of art evolving towards a "communication value", which Mario von Kelterborn collects because art lets him understand the world better? And what does the new image of the human being at the interface of art, digital technology and artificial intelligence look like, which Magdalena Kröner is on the trail of just like some of the artists in the exhibition Phantoms and Other Illusions?

, 3 pm

Closing and public guided tour with the curator of the exhibition

Public guided tours


Public guided tours | 3 pm: 19.02., 05.03., 19.03., 02.04., 16.04., 30.04., 14.05., 04.06., 02.07, 16.07., 30.07., 13.08., 27.08.2023

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