June 25th – August 19th, 2018


Pauline Bastard


Opening: Sunday, June 25th, 11 am

Pauline Bastard pursues interdisciplinary approaches, works with time-based media and creates works in the form of long-term projects and their transformations into crossover installations. Her solo exhibition on the imposing ground floor of the Villa Merkel will focus on the latest projects of the artist.


Her working practice and especially her approach is exemplary evident in the realized project Alex from 2015-2016 which can be seen as the prequel project of Building Family Ties. Alex is a fictional person who was given life by Pauline Bastard for one year. Together with qualified experts from different fields like philosophy, anthropology or even state authorities, the artist developed strategies to enable a fictional figure to have an identity. Step by step, Alex received a passport, a bank account, an apartment and something like an identity –although the person embodying Alex already had an existence by a different name.













Alex embodies something like a sleeper balancing along the fault lines of our society and its promise of security. The project offers a brilliant example for the meaning of subversive strategies as an instrument for self-assertion in relation to repressive systems.

Building Family Ties is about the founding of a fictional family. Once a year, they gather to spend a week of vacation together at the French town La Seyne-sur-Mer. The project is designed to have an open temporal end and is thought as a time for collective thinking regarding the place each individual occupies, a dialogue between the visions of the different members that compose the family. Pauline Bastard temporarily accompanies this family, documents the forms of getting acquainted, curious emotional approaches among the subject group, moments of insecurity, of searching and trying or attempting stereotypical suggestions of a family life in photos and moving images.




June 25th – August 19th, 2018


Marcus Weber


Opening: Sunday, June 25th, 11 am

The exhibition on the first floor of the Villa Merkel shows the paintings of the Berlin based painter Marcus Weber which, in its richness, is the first institutional show of its kind. They are narrative, tongue-in-cheek paintings which offer allusive group portraits, urban landscapes, grotesque restatements of social structures or exaggerated individuality.

Painterly refinement flares up in his paintings. Some read them as Capricho, desolate and romantic at the same time. And there is always a resonance of painter fathers – Marcus Weber is clearly enthralled by artists like James Ensor or Philip Guston.






Marcus Weber, C.A.D., 2014, Öl auf Nessel, 170 x 320 cm, Courtesy of the artist

Marcus Weber, domol, 2016, Öl auf Nessel, 170 x 150 cm, Courtesy of the artist

Marcus Weber, Q-tips, 2016, Öl auf Nessel, 200 x 300 cm, Courtesy oft he artist

Marcus Weber, Uccellacci e uccellini, 2014, Öl auf Nessel, 120 x 105 cm, Courtesy of the artist








The latter showed a paradigmatic change in his works at the end of the sixties, developing a narrative painting style influenced by comic artists like George Herriman and Bud Fischer but also by painters like Piero della Francesca or Giorgio de Chirico while staying true to his sophisticated, abstract expressionist brushwork.

Weber’s work also shows, in its entirety, a disjointed, grotesque mixture. Marcus Weber is not unknown in Esslingen. In 2015 as the Bahnwärter-scholarship holder, he realized with Andreas Baur the thematic group show Better than de Kooning at Villa Merkel focusing on the deformation of the human body in contemporary painting as a derivative from comic books and caricatures.




07. September – 21. Oktober 2018


Wolfgang Gäfgen

Zeichnungen, Holzschnitte, Fotografien


Der Esslinger Kunstverein e.V. ist zu Gast in der Villa Merkel.

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