‘Yummikraut’ brings together twenty-two artists studying under painter Kerstin Drechsel, guest professor in fine arts at the Kunsthochschule Kassel and curator of this exhibition of new work, whose first UK solo exhibition, ‘Jan-Holger’, was at Vane in 2008.

Over the period of a week the artists will come to Newcastle to install and open their exhibition at Vane, followed by visits to local galleries and the fine art departments of both Newcastle University and Northumbria University, with reciprocal visits by students from both universities to the exhibition at Vane. The aim of the exhibition is to contribute to the dialogue around contemporary painting as well as to encourage dialogue between artists from different countries.

In the art world, the German town of Kassel is best known for Dokumenta, arguably the most important international exhibition of contemporary art, which takes place every five years. Appropriately for such an important location, the city’s Kunsthochschule, part of the Universität Kassel, has an internationally oriented art department with national and international artists and theorists regularly invited to lecture.

Whilst the focus of most of the students in Drechsel’s class is painting, their work also encompasses many other media, including installation, photography, film, and performance. As befits the international focus of the university, students include those from the Ukraine, Bulgaria, Korea, and China, as well as from across Germany.

‘Yummikraut’ spans a wide range of contemporary painting, with work that runs the gamut of media, including embroidery, photography, text, sculpture, wallpaper, watercolour, oil paint, lithography, and video. Psychology, anthropology, architecture, ritual, gender politics, and mass media are all explored and used. Art history – from traditional portraiture through surrealism, pop and conceptualism, from the decorative to the figurative and the abstract, Western and Eastern art – all are rummaged through, dissected and reconfigured.

Benita Hahn paints three similar images of an elephant that acted as posters; together with a quote from the lyric of a Smashing Pumpkins’ song, the effect is of a suffused melancholy.

Anna Lena Kreysing creates ethereal paintings of small personal objects that seen together construct the portrait of a person more insightful than an image of the person herself.

Sven Krolczik’s painting transcribes the visual quirks and glitches of the video or digital image into a painterly language that question our acceptance of the truth of media representation.

Miriam Ksoll assembles photographs that documented small architectural details to draw our attention to the small incidents and visual richness of our everyday surroundings.

Lisa Kühne’s cartoon-like image of a smiling Elvis and her video of herself making, playing with, and destroying paper boats were a humorous but poignant goodbye to childhood.

Jea-Yun Lee’s installation of ceramic forms is modelled from electrical sockets of both Germany and Korea. The objects stand as a description of her own sense of being both a stranger and accepted.

Anna-Maria Meyer’s sculptures wrought from wire, glue and acrylic explore the taboos of venereal disease – our fear and revulsion but also our morbid curiosity.

Susanne Mögling’s photograph showing a woman in an intimate personal moment, both sensual and autonomous in her self-absorption, explores the symbolism and gender politics of sexuality.

Elina Richter’s minimalist sculpture constructed from transparent plastic follows two simple precepts: each piece is cut only twice and joined without glue, creating a elegant purity of form.

Lennart Rieder’s paintings combine art historical motifs of natural forms with lurid fluorescent colours to create a feeling of dread and unease both ancient and contemporary urban.

Larissa Rudolph’s silk-screened wallpaper show a kaleidoscope of images – people, objects and graffiti culled from her private life to evoke impressions of madness and anarchic mayhem.

Erik Schäfer’s video installation acts as a kind of portal to a mystical world, his own personal stairway to Heaven – a place beyond life and death.

Miglena Stankeva uses snapshot photography to capture fleeting moments of her surroundings transcribing them into delicate watercolours that memorialised the transient.

Martha Thum’s embroidered sheet of abstract lines and flower-like motifs creates an imaginary place of domestic refuge from the everyday world.

Jens Volbach’s painting uses art historical notions of metaphysics with the emphasis on composition and geometry to explore the act of painting as a personal statement.

Thorleif Wang’s painting is a kind of visual battle, an impossible attempt to reconcile clashing, discordant tones of red and blue as an abstracted image of internal struggle.

Sarah Wegner’s assemblage of drawings and photographs plays with puns and the visually absurd, creating a distorted and impenetrable but somehow intimate narrative.

Florian Wolf’s spray-painted collage references urban art, graffiti and various cultures’ death cults to create an explosive image of symbolic overload.

Sarah Wolf creates a disturbing vignette in which a silhouetted image of a hand sewing broken glass with a bloody needle and a crudely embroidered dead rat play with notions of creation and death.

Qiuyang Wu’s paintings juxtaposes portraits of her family with motifs of western society and abstract patterns that explore her memories of a childhood in China.

Peng Xia’s lithographs combine motifs from both western popular culture and Chinese pictorial techniques and the accidental qualities of lithography to create a new dream-like world.

Tetyana Zolotopupova’s photograph of a young Ukranian girl casually holding the dead fowl that will make the family’s dinner stands as an image of innocence overshadowed by life’s transience.