KOOL KILLER

text accompanying the exhibition "Marcel Frey - Lorem Ipsum" at Galerie Thomas Fischer, Berlin 2018, galeriethomasfischer.de

(German/English)

 

In "Lorem Ipsum", his fourth solo show at Galerie Thomas Fischer, Marcel Frey presents a series of new paintings that he created by folding canvases and treating them with spray paint. The folds result in geometric shapes and surfaces which, interrupted by intermittent lines and curves, appear like fragments of a larger whole. While the eye attempts to reunite the individual visual elements with one another by way of imaginary turning, rotating, and re-sorting, the content of what is represented—similar to the dummy text “Lorem Ipsum,” which is always just a form, but never a support of concrete information—remains unclear.

 

The works might reveal similarities to one another but present themselves again and again as idiosyncratic structures of stable disorder with a coherence all their own. This intrinsic contradiction generates an enormous dynamism, for like the gaze through a kaleidoscope we are given the impression that each canvas shows a temporary state of displacement, as if all the individual parts would fall into place if the canvas were turned 90 degrees or upside down. In this sense, the images are also states of fragile entropies and not fixed compositions that demand a formal evaluation, as the exhibition title seems to suggest.

 

Those who look closely notice that despite all commonalities in the series, differentiated images result that contain multifarious considerations on the surface, overlapping, space and composition, line and contrast. While some works seem like a motif fragmented behind a prism, others are reminiscent of the 1980s textiles and wallpapers designed by the Memphis Group, where short and scraggly lines and shapes tumble about like rubber worms or colorful sugar sprinkles tossed up in the air. Other works with their powerful contrasts recall the play of light and shadow as familiar from abstract black and white photography or photograms. To continue in this line of though, the gray zones and fraying at the edges of some of the lines, due to the drizzle from the spray cans, appear like the rough grainy quality of analog photographs.

The material qualities of spray paint also make it possible to make statements about the temporality within the images, for the density of the paint application shows the speed at which Frey worked. There are thinner and thicker, faster and slower lines in which hesitation, acceleration, and changing directions during painting left their mark.

 

The use of spray paint, in contrast to paint that is applied with brushes and other tools, also raises associations of graffiti and especially tagging, an uncomplicated means for the mass spread of sprayer logos, in a sense their identity. Just like Frey, they work spontaneously and quickly, and yet what remains is of a captivating permanence. Similar to these publicly applied signs, often overlapping with one another and thus dissolving to the point of abstraction, Frey’s pictures with their fragmentary quality raise the question of a supposed meaning, but at least the signs in urban space “mean nothing,” as Jean Baudrillard appreciatively noted in his 1975 essay KOOL KILLER ou L’insurrection par les signes (the very first scholarly treatment of the subject of graffiti). “Invincible due to their own poverty, [they] no longer [denote] anyone or anything.” (Jean Baudrillard, “KOOL KILLER, or The Insurrection of Signs,” trans. Iain Hamilton Grant, in Symbolic Exchange and Death [London: Sage, 1993], 78.). It is precisely here that Baudrillard recognizes their power, for these signs, according to the title of the essay, are literally rebellious, their “function . . . is to derail common systems of designation” (Ibid.) And maybe it is exactly this derailment that makes Frey’s new works so irresistible: they are able to appear as closed systems and still can evoke the disturbance of a supposed instability, that with every viewing once again invites us to imaginarily reorder content and form, like the solution of a sliding tile puzzle, and to offer numerous possible perspectives in this way.

 

Translation (German to English): Brian Currid


Die Urheberin – Katharina Wendler in conversation with Claudia Mann

in: "Claudia Mann – Solid Aero", published by Kunstraum Fuhrwerkswaage / Stefan Schuelke Fine Books, Cologne 2018 (German/English)

as part of ____in conversation with____, for more information please visit www.in-conversation-with.com

 

[...]

KW: In your work you often orientate yourself downwards penetrating the earth, there is excavation and then finally a form resulting therefrom. In his novels, Verne not only orientated himself downwards but also upwards as in his From the Earth to the Moon (1865), thus incorporating outer space within the literary space of possibilities. And here again I see literary parallels as your sculptural work incorporates the space of possibilities in much the same way by penetrating horizontal planes of the ground either upwards or downwards.
CM: Outer space is just as relevant for me as the centre of the earth. We are space. In order to comprehend the dimensions of space right up to the centre of the earth one should be fully aware of the fact that the ground only seems to be an impenetrable surface. However, it consists of air as well
as material. Ground is a very self-centred version of what in fact is only material. That is why it is a component of the definition of ‘horizon’. It stretches to the horizon. This is where a triangle appears. Everything is always about the triangle. One’s location starting with the feet, eye level and then what
one sees is all physically dependent on this. The triangle is synonymous with stability and becomes apparent with its three points of support in statics – three-point-logic. Aero has a triangular layout. I am a triangle when spread out but also a circle.
KW: Aero (2016) consists of a hollow, paper-thin, diaphanous funnel made of resin, it is defined by its space and downward tapering with a height of 207 cm. This corresponds to your body measurements with your arms stretched upwards and that was the depth of the hole you dug for the mould. Solid Aero (2018) is higher and narrower. In the approx. 1-2 cm thick bronze casting there are indentations where your feet found a foothold while digging. Likewise, the bronze itself has recorded everything – grass, soil, stones – which previously remained imbedded in the wax. You excavate your holes on your own without any help and remove the equivalent volume of soil to your body measurements which is then transferred to the surface. You render the space corresponding to yourself visible.
CM: Both works delve into the question of the primeval form of sculpture, they are skin, they are vessels, defining space, describing air; they are my body, my imprint in the ground. The ground is the starting of sculpture and the sculpture itself. But the human entity is and remains the reference. In
the past I used to move and work above this ‘surface’. By means of various processes the necessity arose to break through it and to perceive it. What exactly is the ground? Where does it begin and where does it end? To perceive something and then to clearly accept it for what it is a form of
appropriation. Not merely the wish to hold onto a thought but to own its equivalent made of matter. Air is just as much matter, we are matter. Perception means using the senses. However most of the time we use our senses unconsciously. It is interesting to become aware of one’s own senses. I am
looking for the beginning.

[...]

 

Translation (German to English): Robert Payne


Alan Johnston

in: "SAMMLUNG SCHROTH 1981-2016 - format. 35 Jahre Sammlung Schroth", published by Stiftung Konzeptuelle Kunst, Soest 2017, p. 478 (German/English)


Eduard Kiesmann & Johannes Weiss

text accompanying the exhibition "Areal" at Å+, Berlin 2017, www.åplus.de/exhibitions/areal (German)

 

„Wenn wir alle Weltentwürfe mit der Kontur des Scheiterns überzeichnen, sind wir paralysiert und energiegeladen zugleich.“ – Johannes Weiss

 

Jedes Vorhaben und jede Tat birgt die Gefahr des Scheiterns, jeder künstlerische Prozess schließt potentielle Sackgassen, Niederlagen, Misserfolge, Verluste ein. Dies beginnt bei der Idee, dem erdachten Konzept einer Arbeit, und transformiert sich noch einmal bei der konkreten Umsetzung des Erdachten ins physisch präsente Material. Die bloße Auseinandersetzung mit der Herstellung eines Kunstwerks ist also bereits ein – nicht zuletzt ökonomisches – Risiko.

 

Bei Johannes Weiss’ Objekten und Keramiken beginnt der oftmals sehr aufwendige Prozess bei der Bearbeitung und Zusammenstellung von Materialien und Oberflächen. Ähnlich einem Baukastensystem werden Objekte verschiedenartiger Form, Farbe und Haptik zu heterogenen Türmen errichtet, die an Architekturmodelle, modernistische Designobjekte oder auch virtuose Präsentationstische in Warenhäusern erinnern. Die Binnenstruktur der zusammengetragenen und bedacht platzierten Einzelteile, die immer perfekt ausbalanciert scheinen, changiert zwischen hart und weich, glatt und rau, warm und kalt. Sie wollen in den Dialog treten, in ihrer Zusammengehörigkeit Repräsentationsfragen stellen und Präsentationsformen hinterfragen, klassische Kategorien wie Figur, Portrait, Landschaft thematisieren und Zuschreibungen untereinander sowie in Beziehung zum Äußeren, zum Betrachter vornehmen. Obwohl keine Anzeichen des Scheiterns in den Arbeiten abzulesen sind, erahnt man schon allein durch die Verschiedenartigkeit der perfekt aufeinander abgestimmten Elemente sowie die Verarbeitung sensibler Materialien wie beispielsweise Ton Produktionsbedingungen, bei denen Verlust und Neuanfang zu selbstverständlichen Begleitern geworden sind.

 

In ähnlicher Weise sind Aufwand und Ausdauer in den kleinen Tableaus von Eduard Kiesmann ablesbar. Er hat kurze Holzlatten – einstmals zurechtgeschnitten, um sie als Brennholz zu verfeuern und somit ein eigentliches Abfallprodukt – mit abertausenden, winzigen Pinselstrichen bemalt. In kleinen Gruppen von meistens sechs Stäbchen hat er sie hinterher, wie in einem Setzkasten oder Puzzle, in einem Rahmen zusammengefügt, sodass sich, aus der Nähe betrachtet, eine feine Musterung aus Streifen und Linien ergibt. Die schmierige, dicke Ölfarbe verleiht den Malereien etwas reliefartiges, obgleich sie aus der Ferne betrachtet zu monochromen Bildern werden, die, nicht zuletzt wegen ihres Formats, an das leise Flimmern und Flackern eines Computerbildschirms erinnern. Jedes Pixel, jeder einzelne Pinselstrich ist in monatelanger, geradezu meditativer Arbeit auf den Untergrund gebracht worden, bis sich die Rastlosigkeit des Künstlers in einem vollendeten Ergebnis aufgelöst hat.


Collection of Moments – A Conversation with Katrín Agnes Klar

in: "WAY OVER - Seven Conversations with Icelandic Artists", published by The Icelandic Art Center and Crymogea,Reykjavik 2016, p. 33-48 (English)

Never Say Never No Matter What The Weather – A Conversation with Styrmir Örn Gudmundsson

in: "WAY OVER - Seven Conversations with Icelandic Artists", published by The Icelandic Art Center and Crymogea,Reykjavik 2016, p.113-128 (English)

Impact of Time and Place – A Conversation with Libia Castro and Ólafur Ólafsson

in: "WAY OVER - Seven Conversations with Icelandic Artists", published by The Icelandic Art Center and Crymogea,Reykjavik 2016, p.129-144 (English)


On the Threshold

in: "Henrik Strömberg - Mashti", published by Neumeister Bar-Am Gallery, Berlin 2016, p. 5-6 (English)


Depicting Landscape, Observing Nature – Some Notes on Icelandic Photography

in: "Five", published by Grundemarknilsson Gallery, Stockholm/Berlin, 2015, p. 9-15 (English/German)


Zu den Mobiles von Johannes Wald / On the mobiles of Johannes Wald

in: "Antworten auf Calder - Mobiles in der Gegenwartskunst / Responses to Calder - Mobiles in Contemporary Art", published by Kunsthalle Wilhelmshaven, Kerber Verlag, 2014, p.86-91 (German/English)