ORNAMENT + ABSTRAKTION
COLIN ARDLEY + TANJA ROCHELMEYER + BRIGITTE SCHWACKE + ANJA SCHWÖRER
18 January until 9 March 2019
One hundred years ago in 1919, a year after the end of the first world war, architect Walter Gropius founded a new art school, the Bauhaus, in Weimar, Germany. On the occasion of the school’s centenary, this year sees numerous exhibitions. After two relocations, first to Dessau and then to Berlin, the Bauhaus was banned by the Nazis in 1933. In the 1950s, the former Bauhaus student Max Bill founded the Ulm School of Designin the tradition of the Bauhaus. This would become one of the originators of concrete art.
In the Bauhaus’s founding manifesto, Walter Gropius wrote: “The ultimate objective of all artistic activities is construction (…).Architects, sculptors, painters… We must all go back to working with our hands.”In 1947, Max Bill formulated his conception of concrete art: “The objective (…) is to develop objects for intellectual and spiritual use (…). Ultimately, concrete art is the pure expression of harmonious measure and law.”
In this age of increasing digitalisation in all areas of our lives, the artists featured in the exhibition Ornament + Abstraktion work with their two hands. The materials they use are textile materials, plastic, wire, cardboard and wood.
On the one hand, Anja Schwörer’s textile images, stretched on frames in the classic manner, represent the tradition of concrete art, with the focus on rational principles and the clear geometric vocabulary of shapes. On the other, the Asian folding and colouring techniques that the artist uses represent a moment of chance, seeming to represent processes of image creation that could be labelled alchemistic. By means of removal and washing away the dyes, seemingly archaic images come into being, with the coloured, often diamond-shaped areas she applies lying next to and over one another like fragments of weathered time.
Tanja Rochelmeyer is represented by her strongly coloured sculptures and wall paintings, created from transparent plastics. Like Schwörer’s works, her two and three dimensional works realise an abstract spatial experience that doesn’t reference traditional architecture. While searching for a formal sense in the rampant geometric shapes, Rochelmeyer’s architecture remains virtual, at the same time slipping into contradiction. She assembles the individual, previously cut-out elements (which, in the case of her wall paintings are reminiscent of lead glass work in churches) by hand, ensuring that a physically perceivable energy is perceptible and visible.
Wire is the material used by the Munich-based artist Brigitte Schwacke. As well as her often space-consuming sculptures, the sculptor also creates flat works, whose origins lie in a project started in the late 1990s. Since then, the artist has invited around a hundred people to crochet images of finest wire at A4 size, the size of a standard writing pad. In contrast to materials such as for example wool, no corrections are possible when using wire. Every structure created is irreversible, so that each unintentional error is a chance to become ‘art of the uneven’, and therefore an interplay between the soulfulness of the material (John Cage) and the energy of the person producing it. Brigitte Schwacke places her works a few millimetres in front of the wall. Shadow play and three-dimensionality result, evoking memories of Christian relics, sudaria and shrouds.
Whereas the exhibition’s female artists deliberately avoid referencing existing architecture, this is precisely what Colin Ardley seeks. So, with and in his sculptures, mostly created from drawing cardboard and thin wooden strips, he tackles the architecture of for example Frank Lloyd Wright. He is interested in the “insight into his spatial thinking and perception in respect of proportions, division of space and the transitions between interior and exterior”. Among others we are showing one work by Ardley, from 2004, almost as a commentary on the very different abstract works of Schwacke, Rochelmeyer and Schwörer. Art without ornament, which leads us to address the ornament that is today found all around us.
Precisely because this is what it dispenses with.
Opening hours: Tue – Fri: 1 – 6 pm, Sat: 11 am – 3 pm