Graphic Design: Hannah Fitz, Eugen WistGraphic Design: Hannah Fitz, Eugen Wist

With Nadja Adelmann, Maïly Beyrens Xu, Živa Drvarič, Pia Ferm, Hannah Fitz, Louise Giovanelli, Timon & Melchior Grau, Lukas Heerich, Simon Lässig, Jiwon Lee, Yong Xiang Li, Fiona McDonald, Shaun Motsi, Johanna Odersky, Nadia Perlov, Ada Rączka, James Sturkey, Andrew Wagner, Nicholas Warburg, Matt Welch and Eugen Wist

From the classes of Monika Baer, Gerard Byrne, Judith Hopf, Hassan Khan, Tobias Rehberger, Willem de Rooij, Haegue Yang and former professor Amy Sillman as well as former guest professor Nikolas Gambaroff

Curated by Sophie Buscher and Alke Heykes

Over the past months it has been confirmed that making art is deeply connected with the physical presence of others and that it is dependent on a close engagement with life. Art is created in the exchange of experiences—it is based on intimacy and closeness. The lack of emphatic presence, the absence of body language and physical interaction made us all unlearn and learn on different levels of our lives.

22 graduates from 12 different countries will present their final works over the period of one month in the entire building of Portikus–from the central hall and the mezzanine to the basement–and provide an insight into the multifaceted work of the graduating class. There will be paintings, sculptures, video works, prints, drawings, installations and performances on view. The works are the result of five years of study in discipline-specific classes with free artistic work in the studios and an intensive exchange with the professors. The Absolventenausstellung is the formal and artistic highlight of the studies and is often the first institutional exhibition of these young artists.

The graduation works in L'Esprit show once again the importance of artistic discourses in a time marked by distance. The various themes and media offer approaches and suggestions for an uncertain present and unpredictable future. However, all together they take on the attitude of a collective optimism and have an impact beyond the physical boundaries of Portikus and the Städelschule.

An accompanying publication functions as an extension of the exhibition. The latter contains artistic editions made by the graduating students and several of their professors.

The exhibition is made possible with the generous support of Hessisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kunst, Graf von Westphalen, Städelschule Portikus e.V., Allen & Overy and Sammlung Pohl.

Graduate Prize

  1. Nadja Perlov (Städelschule Portikus e.V.)
  2. Shaun Motsi and Matt Welch (Sammlung Pohl gGmbH)


Nikola Dietrich (Director Kölnischer Kunstverein), Christina Lehnert (Curator Portikus), Laura von Leonhardi (Sammlung Pohl), Dr. Claudia Orben (Städelschule Portikus e.V.), Dr. Ana Pohl (Sammlung Pohl), Philip Solms (Städelschule Portikus e.V.), Prof. Yasmil Raymond (Rector Städelschule, Director Portikus)


Nadja Adelmann

b. 1987, Germany
class of Tobias Rehberger

Nadja Adelmann studied at the HfG University of Art and Design in Offenbach (DE) from 2014 to 2016. Since 2016, she has been studying at Städelschule and graduates with the title Meisterschüler of Tobias Rehberger. In her artistic practice she focusses on sculptures and installations. In her work, she uses a sensorial approach to engage with rational knowledge of the world, making theoretical data and facts directly tangible. She draws upon perceptual theories, sociology, quantum physics, linguistics and her own observations as sources that serve as the raw materials for her art. In recent years, her work has been shown in local and international exhibitions (e.g. in Singapore, SG) and Seoul, KR) as well as on art fairs (e.g Art Düsseldorf, DE) and at auctions (Ernst & Young, DE). Several of her works are part of private collections.

This is air, 2020
Installation, aluminium, high performance LED-Matrix, Black 3.0 Fadenvorhang, 285 x 6 x 85 cm

Maïly Beyrens Xu

b. 1994, Belgium
class of Willem de Rooij

Maïly Beyrens Xu is a Belgium based artist and musician. Her work is often time-based and site-specific, with sound as a recurring medium throughout her practice. She is one half of the band LOUCHE, founded in 2012 with partner Charlotte Symoens. They have performed in both musical venues and art spaces, such as the Ghent Design Museum (for Tumult, BE), the Church of Begijnhof Brussels (for BANG Festival, BE) or at a private party in La Granja, Ibiza (ES). Maïly Beyrens Xu collaborated with Markéta De Borggraef and Victor Van Wassenhove on their first institutional show called SOMMER in Kunst Im Tunnel, Düsseldorf (DE) and directed several music videos for “Awkward Moments”, an audio-visual collective from London (UK).

Room For Improvisation, 2020 Chairs, plants

Wednesday, September 23, 6 pm; Wednesday, September 30, 6 pm; Wednesday, October 7, 6 pm; Wednesday, October 14, 6 pm

Živa Drvarič

b. 1988, Slovenia
class of Judith Hopf

Živa Drvarič’s artistic practice is based on the poetic exploration of objects, systems of thoughts, gestures, language and processes. In her recent work, reconstructed and transformed elements from everyday life are used in a way to liberate them from their primary functions in order to evoke new narratives. Discovering and playing with the connections and similarities between things are the foundations for her practice.

Untitled (intimate immensity l), 2020
Ceramic powder, lavender, sage, 73 x 33 x 2 cm 

Untitled (intimate immensity ll), 2020
Ceramic powder, lavender, 73 x 33 x 2 cm

Balance (daily reminder), 2020
Pair of leather shoes with debossed insoles, handcrafted by Aleš Kacin in Slovenia, 32 x 27 x 15 cm

Emptiness, 2020
Two glass bottles, 27 x 8 cm

Reflection (sparkling eyes), 2020
Silkscreen print on unprimed canvas, 110 x 80 cm

Infini, 2020
Ceramic powder, lavender, sage, 73 x 30 x 2 cm

Untitled (Half in, half out l), 2020
Ceramic powder, lavender, sage, acrylic glass, 73 x 33 x 2 cm

Pia Ferm

b. 1986, Sweden
class of Tobias Rehberger

Pia Ferm studied from 2011 to 2014 at Dômen Art School and at Akademin Valand Academy Gothenburg (SE) and from 2014 to 2020 at Städelschule with Tobias Rehberger. Her works undercut the boundaries of medium specificity by centering itself around the drawn image and how to pull it off the wall, into the room. Her tufted and woven wall hangings are based on watercolors paintings she manually translates into three-dimensional woolen surfaces. Balancing between painting and sculpture, her tapestries integrate elements of the visual vocabulary of abstraction, referring to the role of the gestural line in painting while possessing depth as well as tactile qualities. Pia Ferm’s work has been presented in both institutional and commercial solo- and group exhibitions in Germany.

Das große Selbstporträt, 2020
Hand tufted wool and linen tapestry 185 x 240 cm

Strategies for a career, 2020
Woven tapestry on metal hanger,
linen, cottolin and woolen yarns on linen warp, 22 x 24 cm

Hannah Fitz

b. 1989, Ireland
class of Peter Fischli, Hassan Khan

Hannah Fitz's sculptures are representational misdirections of assumed appearance. Made in series these shapes build an alternative and interior language between overly represented forms. Seemingly caught up in the sort of intentions you find in 2D image making, the sculptures trip over the line where an image meets its surroundings. The works found in L’Esprit are part of a series—the rest of How I Finally Lost My Heart can be seen online at L21 in Mallorca (ES).

Eye Rolling All The Way Down, 2020
Steel, card, plater bandage, wire, fiberglass, resin, paint, clothing, dimensions variable

Louise Giovanelli

b. 1993, England
class of Monika Baer, Nikolas Gambaroff, Amy Sillman

Louise Giovanelli lives and works between Frankfurt am Main and Manchester (UK). She makes intense, luminous paintings that refer to art historical and contemporary mechanics of viewing and consuming imagery. Through interconnected series, Louise Giovanelli weaves together visual clues surrounding a specific moment or event. Her subject matter is primarily chosen for its formal qualities and includes photographs, film stills, classical sculpture, and architectural elements. By employing optical color mixing techniques of the early renaissance, Louise Giovanelli connects post-modern strategies back through time to artists such as Giotto and the canon of art history.

Dyer, 2020 
Oil on canvas, 180 x 130 cm 

Idyll, 2020 
Oil on linen, 24 x 18 cm 

Timon & Melchior Grau

b. 1990, 1991, Deutschland
class of Willem de Rooij

Timon & Melchior Grau are an interdisciplinary artist duo working at the intersection of art and design. Their practice focuses on subject-object-relationships and the tensions that arise between sender and receiver. Boundaries between subject and object have become increasingly blurred since the digitalization and will continue to dissolve. Their work reflects on the interdependence of the human to designed structures and asks what makes the human human.

Interface, 2020
Light installation,
glas, aluminum, LED boards

Lukas Heerich

b. 1989, Deutschland
class of Tobias Rehberger

The work of Lukas Heerich engages with industrial and commercial techniques to probe the interaction of function and aesthetics. Materials such as rubber and surgical steel are worked to their semantic limit, recalling the aesthetics of computer-aided-design and mass production, but also fetish paraphernalia. Juxtapositions reveal a society whose coded desires lead to the wipe-clean, durable and conformable materials he deploys. Iconic forms are given new meaning set into his glossy, serial melancholia.
Having studied at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (DE) as Meisterschüler of Andreas Gursky, Heerich now graduates from Städelschule in the class of Tobias Rehberger.

Glocke, 2020
Rubber, stainless steel, charred wood, magnetic motor, dimensions variable

Simon Lässig

b. 1992, Germany
class of Willem de Rooij

Simon Lässig lives and works in Berlin (DE) and Frankfurt am Main. He studied with Willem de Rooij. Recent exhibitions include projections (with Vera Lutz), Nousmoules, Vienna (2019); solo show, Felix Gaudlitz, Vienna (2019) (AT) and Darcy Lange: Work Studies in Schools, Mavra, Berlin, 2019, (DE).

Untitled, 2020
Prints, table, 120 x 60 x 74 cm

Jiwon Lee

b. 1993, USA
class of Tobias Rehberger

Jiwon Lee studied at Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main from 2014 to 2020. She primarily works with painting and sculpture. Her imagery often embodies virtual spaces with enigmatic figures through calligraphic gestures, embracing a state of ambiguity and contingency. Her recent work consists of transparent sculptures with cracked glass and oval frames. She showed in duo and group exhibitions in South Korea and Germany.

Nobody Knows, 2020
Acrylic on canvas, 145 x 112 cm

Backyard, 2020
Acrylic on canvas, 112 x 145 cm

Yong Xiang Li

class of Judith Hopf

Yong Xiang Li is an artist who currently lives and works in Frankfurt am Main. He received a BA from Central Saint Martins University of the Arts, London (UK) and studied from 2015 to 2020 with Judith Hopf at Städelschule. Yong Xiang Li’s practice involves a wide range of media across painting, drawing, sculpture, music and moving image. His work has been shown internationally in Amsterdam (NL), Berlin (DE), Beijing (CN), Chiang Mai (TH), Düsseldorf (DE), Frankfurt am Main (DE), Munich (DE), Naples (IT), Prague (CZ), Vienna (AT), and elsewhere.

Chair, 2020
MDF boards, 160 x 86,5 x 159 cm

I’m not in love (how to feed on humans), 2020
Single channel video with sound, 27 min.

Fiona McDonald

b. 1996, USA
class of Peter Fischli, Hassan Khan

Fiona McDonald studied in the Fine Arts classes of Peter Fischli (2015–2018) and Hassan Khan (2018–2020) at Städelschule. Her interdisciplinary art practice spans media such as installation, video, drawing and conceptual gesture.

Playing Cards, 2020
Playing cards, hot glue, 50 x 50 cm

Sunflower, 2020
Paper, marker, dye, 150 x 150 cm

Shaun Motsi

b. 1989, Zimbabwe
class of Judith Hopf

Shaun Motsi studied at Städelschule from 2015 to 2020 with Judith Hopf. Through painting, video, installation and writing, his work explores the politics and potentialities of language – often focusing on the ways in which narratives are constructed, inherited, appropriated or transformed in the processes of worldmaking and cultural production. Shaun Motsi is interested in the effects that these processes have on subjectivity, on the constantly shifting boundaries between subject and object or self and other. His work has been exhibited in art spaces around Europe, in the USA and Canada.

Bad-Bar Blues, 2020
Oil on linen,49 x 42cm

Tafel (Verso), 2020
Oil on primed aluminium panel, 60 x 50 cm

NGO, 2020
Oil on linen, 40 x 50 cm

Johanna Odersky

b. 1993, Switzerland
class of Judith Hopf

Johanna Odersky is a visual artist and musician based in Frankfurt am Main. Much of her work revolves around exploring how human experience is organized and embodied and how relationships between body, mind and the external world are always and necessarily situated in discursive power relations. These questions are echoed in her musical work and performances, which she produces under the name of "Iku". Johanna Odersky‘s work has been shown in festivals, galleries and other art spaces across Europe, Japan, Mexico and the USA.

Time Keeper IV, 2020
Time Keeper V, 2020
Time Keeper VI, 2020

Watercolor on paper, 22,9 x 30,5 cm
Frame made of thermoplastic, silkpaper, and steel 40 x 40 cm

Types of Clouds IV, 2020 Oil on canvas, 100 x 80 cm

Types of Clouds V, 2020 Oil on canvas, 100 x 100 cm

Nowhere to Stand, 2020 Forged steel, 102 x 56 x 100 cm

Nadia Perlov

b. 1990, Israel
class of Judith Hopf

Nadia Perlov is an interdisciplinary artist invested in cultural history and languages as well in its production, with a focus on the flow of migratory cultures, exploring their narratives and complex identities in relationship to politics, architecture and territory. Nadia Perlov draws lines between Jewish history and identity, and the cultural-political discourse of decolonization in Israel Palestine. In her work she uses video, narration, animation, collage, costume making, dance and music to look through broad historical movements.

Jardin Jadore, 2020
Video installation, 15 min.
Screen, steel rods, wood,
Actors: Tamir Eting, Lia Perlov and Nadia Perlov Cinematography by Hillel Ben-Zeev
Music by J.S. Bach - Violin Concerto BWV 1041 in A Minor Andante, Natan Alterman and Moshe Levinsky Original music by Lia Perlov and Nadia Perlov

Lady Bug, 2020
Paper, fabric, wood, acrylic glass, 100 x 100 x 6 cm

Ada Rączka

b. 1997, Poland
class of Judith Hopf

Ada Rączka works with images, text and video. She is looking for a visual and textual representation of reproductive work, including cleaning, cooking, caring and taking care of. With her works she draws attention to their repetitive, time consuming, physical and material aspect.

Untitled (ribbon), 2020
Digital print on paper, 11 m x 21 cm

Untitled (ribbon), 2020
Digital print on paper, 11 m x 21 cm

James Sturkey

b. 1991, England
class of Peter Fischli, Hassan Khan

James Sturkey lives and works in Frankfurt am Main. His methodically executed 2D works draw upon research and experience of subjects such as pop music, theme parks and the interior decoration of British restaurant franchises. Such subjects, which for Sturkey are passions, are as banal as much as they are built upon the idea of phantasmatic potential (economic, libidinal, etc.). The viewer finds themselves both comfortably familiar and yet alienated as the sustaining artifices of everyday life are made explicit.

Glamping, 2020
Steel, wood, paint, 155 x 220 cm

Bustin’ Apart at the Seams, 2020
Inkjet print, pen, correction fluid, 30 x 21 cm

Camping, 2020
Pen, correction fluid, 30 x 42 cm

Complex, 2020
Pen, correction fluid, 30 x 42 cm

Blackout, 2020
Inkjet print, pen, correction fluid, 42 x 60 cm

Andrew Wagner

class of Judith Hopf

Andrew Wagner is an artist from New Jersey and has been studying since 2017 at Städelschule with Judith Hopf. Andrew Wagner’s artistic work incorporates film, drawing, sculpture and writing. Within his artistic practice he is interested in how individual subjectivity is both produced by and in confrontation with capitalism, as well as how culture and aesthetics become embedded with history and ideology.

Digital video, 30 min.
Actors: David Moser, Clay Koonar, Sebastjan Brank, Eugen Wist
Cinematography: Juliet Carpenter
Additional cinematography: Kristin Reiman
Original artwork in Film: K-K, Sóley Ragnarsdóttir Supported by: Stadt Frankfurt am Main - Dezernat für Kultur und Wissenschaft.

DEATH SOUP! The Zine!, 2020
Pile of xeroxed zines

Nicholas Warburg

b. 1992, Germany
class of Tobias Rehberger

Nicholas Warburg studied at California Institute of the Arts in Santa Clarita (US) and at Städelschule. He is co-founder of the collective “Frankfurter Hauptschule”, which has attracted attention with interventions in public space since 2013. His works often deal in ambivalent ways with German (art) history and have been awarded with prizes and scholarships by nGbK Berlin, Künstlerhilfe Frankfurt, Fonds Darstellende Künste, Polytechnische Gesellschaft and Hessisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kunst. He works mainly with Galerie Anton Janizewski in Berlin (DE).

Graduating Slytherin, 2020
Oil on canvas, 40 x 50 cm

Notizen aus der Edelquarantäne, 2020
Series of 16 drawings, fineliner and acrylic on paper, each 15 x 10 cm

Matt Welch

b. 1988, England
class of Haegue Yang

Matt Welch works predominantly with sculpture and video. He previously studied an undergraduate degree in Painting at Wimbledon School of Art, London (UK). Recent work explores representations of the human body and its organs as institutionalized metaphors for the public body and ethical actions of the individual. The human stomach, as a physical site for the incubation, digestion and absorption of outside material, is positioned as a mechanism in Welch’s work for a thinking through the gut as the symbolic habitus of instinctual behavior. His work is currently on view in And there I lay down on the ground at Croy Nielsen, Vienna (AT). He recently had a solo exhibition Adult Sculptures at Dortmunder Kunstverein (DE) in 2019.

Workshirt 1, 2020
Used work uniform, found leaflet, 45 x 33 x 5 cm

Mechanical assimilation into a bad environment (die Verdauung), 2020
Fibreglass, resin, pigment, acrylic paint, plywood, oil, steel, earth, water, household waste, organic matter, keys, coins, kitchen items, 280 x 250 x 60 cm

Study for a group dynamic, 2020
Painted steel, plywood, 70 x 40 x 35 cm

Eugen Wist

b. 1989, Russia
class of Gerard Byrne

Eugen Wist studied Fine Arts at the University of Applied Arts Vienna (AT) and at Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main. His artworks and mise-en-scène-like installations draw upon elements of longing, transience, alienation, and a sense of melancholia. His childhood migration from Russia to Germany was a turn of fate that is reflected upon throughout his practice. Eugen Wist uses a range of materials, whereby the traces of being recycled or readymade linger, echoing the ambivalence of the past and the present.

Empty Apologies Rehearsal, 2020
Tin, LED bulb, cable, milk carton, MDF board, steel, 150 x 200 x 20 cm 

Mascara, 2020
Thorn branch, pencil, acrylic, milk carton, steel, 24 x 38 x 1 cm 

No Compensation, 2020
Tin, MDF board, acrylic, tape, linen, steel, 100 x 140 x 8 cm 

BLUMEN 5000, 2020
Acrylic glass, steel, LED tube, cable, 280 x 35 x 35 cm 

Schöne Aussicht, 2020
Paint rollers, acrylic, plastic Publication Städelschule Lectures 1, steel, 62 x 18 x 12 cm

Photos: Eike Walkenhorst