GÜNTHER FÖRG | KATHARINA GROSSE | IMI KNOEBEL
„The subject matter of the abstract is space“ Willem de Kooning
The gallery’s opening exhibition brings together works by three artists with German origin who explore the practice of abstract painting in various ways. While their artistic techniques and objectives differ, they share a common interest in topics like color in abstract painting, and how to convey new ideas about space and structure into the exhibition space. By posing these questions, they are overstepping boundaries between disciplines and mediums, three-dimensional space and flat surfaces. As Jean Fautrier has put it, „Painting is meant to crumble, it must crumble in order to rekindle“ – Förg, Grosse and Knoebel have each dealt with the heritage of modern painting and the need to break with conventions by inventing a new kind of formal language in contemporary abstract painting.
Our group exhibition presents a selection of works by these three artists in several mediums and from different periods of their work, aiming to show their specific contribution to contemporary abstract painting.
„I have often observed how visitors to my installations try to find a position in which they don’t have a reflection in the glass. They want to see the photo as neutrally as possible, but that is almost impossible, for one can’t avoid the reflections.“
Günther Förg (Füssen 1952 – 2013 Freiburg im Breisgau) has been acknowledged as one of the most significant German artists of the post-war generation. In his oeuvre, Förg deals with the heritage of modern art by giving the viewer visual references to previous modern masters. Through an apparently insouciant execution, leaving slight imperfections and therefore evoking signs of human touch, the artist breaks the shining surface of modernism, making us aware of the ubiquity of the past and our relation to it. As Megan R. Luke observes, „We cannot escape the fact that our bodies are embedded in the space that we see; it is the vehicle for our vision and yet a stubborn obstacle to its claims for omniscience.“ Förg shares a common interest with Imi Knoebel in working in repetitions and series, and in the use of line as a tool to manipulate the pictorial space. He has explored these questions throughout various mediums, from wall paintings, photographs, often in juxtaposition with mirrors, works on canvas, paper and lead.
The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and the Dallas Museum of Art, Texas, have dedicated the major solo retrospective ‘A Fragile Beauty’ to Günther Förg recently (2018-19).
„Often it is the little that is completely enough, and where you are simply bothered by everything else because it is too much.“ Imi Knoebel
Imi Knoebel, born 1940 in Dessau as Klaus Wolf Knoebel, student of Joseph Beuys at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, has been described as one of the artists of post-war abstract art with the most systematic approach. Knoebel refers to himself as „painter“ rather than „artist“, and thereby emphasizes on the notion of craftsmanship in making art. The heritage of modern art is equally important to Knoebel as it is to Förg, but he deals with it in a very different way. Using Kasimir Malewitsch’s Black Square of 1915 as a zero point, he takes it as an opportunity to start something new and, similar to Malewitsch, aims to create icons of his own time. Both color and line have always been important topics for Knoebel in that respect.
While Blinky Palermo was an inspiration for the use of color, Knoebel thoroughly researched the application of line in space by means of an extensive series of studies.
Recent solo exhibitions of Imi Knoebel’s work have been shown at Museum Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich, Switzerland (2018); Museum der Bildenden Künste, Leipzig, Germany (2016); Musée National Fernand Léger, Biot, France (2016) and Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Germany (2015).
„…It (painting) enables me to look at the residue of my thinking.“ Katharina Grosse
Katharina Grosse, born 1961 in Freiburg im Breisgau and now based in Berlin, has been expanding the notion of painting in a seemingly effortless play between the explosive power of color, spacial setting, drawing, installation, and music, thereby absorbing and changing existing architecture. As with Imi Knoebel, color is a vital topic for Katharina Grosse. By applying color with a spray-gun and thereby extending her body with a mechanical device, layer for layer she creates new imagery. In her temporary in situ installations, the viewer not only looks at a painting but experiences a full immersion by entering the room of the work: walls, floors, and ceilings all fuse into one. Closely interlinked to the in situ installations are the works on canvas or paper created in the studio, which apply the same pictorial vocabulary and often serve as a vital part of the installations. According to Alexander Klar, „The real boundaries of painting, however, lie where neither the eye nor the brush can venture. It is this limitation that Katharina Grosse plumbs in her works on paper. Her search for the as-yet-unknown boundary of our perception of the picture leads us, in her work, into absolutely new areas of seeing.“ Katharina Grosse’s work is represented in major museums and private collections worldwide. Recent solo exhibitions include Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA (2018); chi K11 art museum, Shanghai, China (2018); National Gallery, Prague, Czech Republic (2018); Rockaway! MoMA PS1, Fort Tilden, Queens, NY (2016); Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden, Germany (2015). A special exhibition dedicated to the artists’ works on paper have been shown at Museum Wiesbaden, Wiesbaden, Germany in 2015.