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Masks of Modernities

Posted on 25 September 2012

A new exhibition of work at the King's Manor Gallery is a series of explorations into modern architecture.

25-09-2012 Masks

A new exhibition of work at the Kings Manor Gallery is a series of explorations into modern architecture. The Berlin-based artist Hans Hack, who studied conservation in Germany, sees connections between traditional and modernist forms, the mask having particular significance in the context of what are often considered 'faceless' buildings. Here a collection of works is presented together for the first time. The exhibition runs from 4 October to 7 December. 


Hans Hack was born in Brussels, Belgium. He studied Film and Animation in the UK and Heritage Studies in Germany. Since 2006 he has been working as an artist. His special fields of interest are architecture, cultural anthropology, ‘traditional’ and modernist art and history. Over the years these subjects have increasingly interwoven. In his artwork, Hack applies diverse methods and media such as archival research, photographic documentation, sculpting, digital design and collage, techniques which reveal new interpretations of his subjects. He currently lives and works in Berlin as a freelance heritage practitioner and artist. More of Hack’s works can be found on his website:


The subject of Hacks’ work focuses on the perception of urban space and the connections between architecture and historic and social contexts. The source of his art lies in the particular view he developed on his urban environment and the built structures within it. For Hack, art is used as method and personal approach, to re-evaluate the subjects – often the ordinary – by abstracting and recontextualizing them. The viewer is thereby challenged to look again – at the artwork but also at the original subject, which might help rediscover or even just consciously notice it. The Kings Manor painting shown in this exhibition is an example for that.

Hack’s work isstrongly influenced by the patterns and visual language of ‘traditional‘ art from Africa, the Americas and the Pacific as well as by the aesthetics of architecture of different modernisms. These two sources become especially apparent in the Masks of Modernities Collection shown here. For this project Hack has been exploring cities for forms and motifs that became the starting point for his work. He transformed the facades - of what are often perceived as faceless buildings - into expressive masks. The art work hereby refers to modernist architecture which often embodies western utopias and concepts of modernity. On the other hand their appearances remind the viewer of masks from 'traditional' arts which have been seen as primitive and as contrasting with western society. The Masks project questions the perception of modernity and the binary categories of modern and traditional.

His most recent work in this exhibition is the Monument Series which was inspired by a visit to Kiev early this year where he visited the memorial complex commemorating the German-Soviet War. Struck by its monumentality, he started to approach this structure artistically and his research brought him to similar architecture. The series aims to show references between the objects and is an example of Hack’s desire to explore subjects in ways that are research-led as well as intuitive. This often leads to new forms of artistic typographies. In a way he shares this approach and interest with archaeologists who take a closer look at the 'taken for granteds' of everyday material culture and thereby help perceive our world from a different angle.