Gerhard Richter, 'Acht Grau'
In art you have Fundamental art alongside Conceptual art, documentary photography alongside realism, art critical of society alongside analytical art, participatory art alongside confessional art, concept art alongside narrative art, service art alongside studio art. In short, the forest of art is awfully big.
The aim of 'Fields for Propositions' is to provide insight into what an artwork itself supplies and what there is to be seen in an artwork when you know the world of its creator. It's a question of looking at artworks from two sides, on the one hand that of the theoretical sphere, how the work can be viewed within the artist's oeuvre, and on the other hand it's about how the work comes across on its own merits, the pictorial field; 'what you see is what you get'. In short, we see what an artwork presents or what it represents. Or in the second case are we seeing phantoms, and is that all we want to see? Or does it make no difference at all how we perceive it, as long we just see something interesting, like the chance detail that grabs and captivates the eye, what Roland Barthes called the "punctum".
All the works in 'Fields for Propositions' comprise worlds of ideas that are clearly distinct from each other. There is work of a monochrome or even monotonous nature. In the first place that's a formal issue. It's a case of dimensions where the construction and the decisions in the working process are easy to recognise. It's a question then of a small sum of two or three clearly distinguishable areas or moments. In addition, something can be told about the context in which the works are made. Such a shift of knowledge positions the work differently than when we only look at its external appearance, the way it appears to us directly.
Gerhard Richter is showing a small piece, 'Acht Grau'. It is a reproduction of one of the eight glass tableaux which he made in 2002 for the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin. There are two notable sides to it: the reproduced work as it appears to us - a monochrome blue-grey area in the form of a postcard. The artist's signature is vigorously and pontifically applied in the middle of the card's monochrome image. This is the concrete side of it. The other side is the field of action that the artist is working from. With editioned works he places his signature onto the image instead of under it. In this case we are dealing with a reproduction of a work of art, 'Acht Grau', where the signature placed on the picture is so large that it becomes an image in itself. This now functions as a first dimension, which of course has been applied last. The initial status of an ordinary reproduction on a postcard is transformed into a new picture. The piece has been reproduced yet again, but now as a new piece of graphic art, for the invitation card of the exhibition 'Fields for Propositions'. This conclusion can only in fact be reasonably drawn if you're familiar with Richter's work.
Dustin Larson recently graduated from the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. He is showing a number of canvasses and a series of digital prints that unmistakably reveal a dualistic view of the world. His other works with image and imaged text also originate from a way of thinking in terms of categorical representations, but it seems that they are intended to be more than dualistic images.
Among the works of Olivier Mosset are a monotonous grid and four pieces made of pure cotton. The first is a silkscreen print showing a graphic 100 x 100 cm grid. The way it looks evinces a surprising and soft beauty. The latter pieces are concrete and consist of nothing more than four separate cotton canvasses, this being the first dimension of what you see. A second dimension, as those familiar with Mosset's work will know, is that he is always striving in his work for a non-personal and non-emotional point of departure, preferring to make work that "everyone could have made". He comments on this work as follows: "The idea was that Clem Greenberg said that a stapled canvas was a painting, but not necessarily a good one. I just wanted to check that." And thus he checked this four times...
The works of Klaas Kloosterboer show the concrete surface of the canvas with sculptural qualities producing an illusory second surface. The work is concrete and simple, but also plays with the idea of appearing and disappearing. Kloosterboer is mainly known for the way he outflanks the painter's canvas and sculpture. The former always has to do with the latter, and vice versa. His works are surprisingly powerful and seem extremely physical, particularly as they look quickly made. Play, suppleness and inventiveness define the field in which he works, as a way of achieving a reconciliation of 'beauty' and 'truth'.
Another of Kloosterboer's works is a photo piece from 1989. Extremely out of focus, it appears to be of some colourful object. If that is to be regarded as a pictorial dimension, then the second dimension is one of gaiety and optimism conveyed directly through the work. A third, but different dimension is that of the physical presence of the act of photographing caused by the photograph's blurredness. This is typical of Kloosterboer's way of working, but you only read it thus when you know his oeuvre. This specific knowledge makes the image extra convincing.
Steel Stillman is showing photo works for the first time. In this latest work from 2005 the monochrome area in the corners is 'reluctant', you could say, because unexpected embellishments or curled up corners are to be seen there. These photoworks are making two propositions: on the one hand they want to be emphatically monochrome, but on the other hand the scrolls seem disinclined. This literal visual struggle ensures a refreshing confusion. Is that because I know his oeuvre well and know that his other work actually consists of parts taken from architecture and interiors?
Joëlle Tuerlinckx is showing 'Ça, là', a piece from 1994 which was previously shown in 1995 in the exhibition 'Drawings and drawings' in Galerie van Gelder. It shows a roughly 20 cm thick layer of flour in the form of a severely truncated pyramid on a worktable. Eight drawings have been recently added by the artist. The tabletop as surface presents yet another surface, but then of a surprising and fragile type of material.
When you know Joëlle Tuerlinckx's work you can place 'Ça, là' in her way of working with 'poor materials', which she uses to accurately define the world around her. The precision with which she does that is so great that in reality she is describing the workings of the human eye and brain.
Marijke van Warmerdam is showing a piece titled ''92-'96', consisting of a field with five successive dates underneath each other. It seems to be about the beauty of a concrete announcement on a black surface, but the more than factual listing of the dates makes one suspect that it's a question of important dates. What can the viewer still remember of 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996? Have they simply disappeared from sight, like the immense amount of rubbish that we threw into the garbage bin in those years?
''92-'96' acquires another dimension when the viewer knows that the piece is made by Marijke van Warmerdam, who is known for her film loops. The numerals form a sequence just as a piece of film from a loop is also a sequence of successive images.