63 | kajetan at valerie traan

Schermafbeelding 2022 10 14 om 11 35 06

Man, I assert fabricates by abstraction*

Art makes something unprecedented appear. Before the work of art exists, there is no content to be "expressed". The event itself, which is first evoked in the material, in the form, in the colour, is the content. Art, as sensual becoming, as sentient thinking, always opens up new openings. Creation and order, system and freedom, tradition and invention, colour and form are perhaps opposites that are necessary for thinking, but which must always be overcome. And this is precisely what happens in the exhibition kajetan at valerie_traan.

Here, the separation between poetic and geometric reference to the world is reflected, corrected, undermined. Radically and freely, the artists gathered here with their works test the possibilities of non-figurative art, its sovereignty, its autonomy, and precisely by doing so, they put into the light the big questions that these concepts have in tow.

Even the title of Shila Khatami's work Damage Line refers to connection and rupture. Here, expressive gesture meets sober reduction, dynamically roller-applied paint meets transparent, lucid traces of colour, which, through changes of direction, overlaps, their own will, transform the picture surface into a multi-layered structure that allows different vocabularies, their tradition, their expressive capacity to communicate with each other. This painting overdances apparent or real contradictions, creates ambivalences and carries them out as painterly events. At the same time, the inherent power of painting is illuminated here as the interplay of materiality and transcendence, form and energy.

Sculpture and drawing, space and surface enter into a surprising liaison in Harry Leigh's large-scale wooden sculptures and assemblages. These works also play on fundamental polarities - and the movement in the in-between: Lightness and heaviness, mobility and stillness, material and transparency, idea and body, construction and emotion. In these spatial structures, the identity of sculpture and volume dissolves. Space is no longer the other side of sculpture, but is incorporated into it, a constituent component. In the joining together, in the opening and closing, in the play between fullness and emptiness, gracefulness and mass, ever new facets and changes of view are made possible for the structures that are so simple at first glance, a multi-vision that is achieved in the form and in the material, its origin and in the making.

In Erich Reusch's work, too, space is an essential actor and an asset; his reliefs are also a transition between surface and space. In the sight, the reliefs turn to the viewer and this double character of seeing simultaneously opens up a dimension of tactility and feeling that transcends and fills the peculiar paradox of perception: Quite freely and with verve, Erich Reusch makes the ancient conception of relief as a relationship of surface movement to depth movement, and thus from the second dimension to the third, suitable for the present. His objects thus lead directly into the tense relationship between body and world, which oscillates between perception and the sense of touch. In their contemplation, one never stands still, just as the arrangement of the parts can be playfully-constructively configured as changeable, temporary arrangements, and in the different arrangements are capable of stretching, contracting, loosening and concentrating the space.

Haleh Redjaian's fine drawings combine line grids and surface, colour and drawing and their play and contradiction. Grids form systems of order and belong to the category of structures with regular regularities from which they are constituted. They are law and appearance, object and concept. The grid, which becomes the subject of the picture, was interpreted as a model of the self-referential modern work of art that refers to nothing outside itself, as a place of silence. Haleh Redjaian reflects and undermines this definition of the grid (and of avant-garde art). Repetition and deviation, rule and rule-breaking are there simultaneously. It is precisely the minor disruptions (as also found in antique carpets or ornaments), the modicum of contradiction and the contrary movement of line and colour surface and their superimpositions that create visual leaps and bring the strict setting into a subtle balance with an idiosyncratic imponderability.

In Elisabeth Vary's pictorial objects, too, a strict either-or becomes an either-and. The opposites of painting and object become a fragile unity, which, however, does not simply synthesise but keeps the respective possibilities open. Colours and forms enter the stage and open up a ping-pong of give and take, of alternating enrichment of the different vocabularies and thus a multi-layered seeing. The objects, irregularly shaped stereometric cardboard bodies, are, as it were, imaginatively charged by their colourful accentuation, whereby the painting also appears in unorthodox freedom, is allowed to spread out from proliferating abundance to monochrome, while the built objects, as it were, create a constructive anchoring of the painterly frenzy. Facticity, materiality and imagination are - almost in paradox - simultaneous moments of perception: sculpture and colour here form vital metamorphoses from one to the other, fusing into a dynamic spatial structure. Painting meets and affects sculpture, the genres interpenetrate, communicate and illuminate each other alternately - and their space.

Spatial and planar perception also alternate in Jan Wawrzyniak's pictorial structures, which are built up from white, grey and black lines and surfaces. With few basic elements, with a reduced palette, in the oscillation between clarity and stability and their constant withdrawal. Precisely in the reduction to a few elementary creative means, to line and geometric form, which floats in opaque charcoal black on the primed cotton fabric, these works are borderline passages that probe the reality of the picture, its set of rules, its visual event. Each work expresses what it is about. Here, concept and view, rationality and intuition, perspective and a-perspective are not mutually exclusive, but are in an oscillating, abysmal relationship. Orders of the visible and the provisionality of every order emerge from these works - always anew. The certainty of geometry is broken up in contemplation, the simple form is in contrast to the complexity of its experience. Intensity need not be melodramatic.

In this exhibition, the conditions of appearance become an adventure of seeing, make seeing possible and real.

*Paul Valéry, Eupalinos, or the Architect, in: The collected Works of Paul Valéry, Vol. IV, Princeton 1956, p. 121

Dorothée Bauerle-Willert