ORTHODOX ABSTRACTION (and of course there was poetry) — AT NORDENHAKE

Orthodox Abstraction (and of course there was poetry)
Galerie Nordenhake
Berlin, Lindenstrasse 34
June 27th – August 29th

The exhibition brings together the work of 14 artists of different generations, who developed their practices in the context of relatively heterogenous notions of abstraction. Respectively, they share a close relation to the program of Galerie Nordenhake, and the majority have exhibited in the gallery, since it’s founding in 1976.

With rigour and discipline the selected artists dedicate themselves to exploring specific aspects of abstraction as both a formal and referential notion. In doing so they develop conceptually different and, in cases, radical approaches, that demonstrate the diversity and inexhaustibility of the geometric idiom.

An important point of reference is Josef Albers’ “Homage to the Square” series (1950-1976). In these disarmingly reduced paintings a very narrow conceptual framework reveals itself as one of extraordinary perceptual complexity. While Albers studied the interaction of colour, Stanley Whitney, in his likewise systematic practice of “stacking colour”, explores the space in the colour.

It was ultimately Donald Judd who was deeply concerned with space in the 1960s. Before this notion had received idiosyncratic renderings in the paintings by artists such as Olle Baertling, Thorsten Andersson and Alfred Jensen, the latter of which is represented in the exhibition with a diagrammatic work on paper painted on both sides from 1952. Judd wrote in 1963 of Jensen that many of his paintings are “thoroughly flat” and that “there are no other paintings completely without space”. Nonetheless Jensen’s paintings are characterised by an engaging sensuous colour palette and relief like textures. These material qualities of the medium are not ends themselves but are in the service of substantiating correspondences between different systems of belief and knowledge. For Marcia Hafif and Donald Judd the materiality of the work of art and it’s phenomenological experience eventually became the sole content of the work.

Immediate physical experiences are induced by the sharp-edged geometric shapes and corporeal wax and oil surfaces of Ann Edholm’s images. Encountering Richard Serra’s steel sculpture “Step-up” (1988) one can hardly escape an all encompassing bodily experience. Two massive, square steel plates, stacked on top of each other without any joints, stand by virtue of equilibrium and gravity. The simple and reckless construction is inevitably felt in the work as a constant state of tension.

Helen Mirra’s “Folded Waulked Triangles” (2015) create a highly evocative counterpart to Serra’s sculpture and push the significance of the material even further. Her process-based weavings draw into focus the origin and processing of the material and thus introduce ethical and ecological concerns. Georg Herold’s painting with bricks also poses fundamental questions about material, volume, physical presence and aesthetics. With wit and irony he however hits hard on orthodoxies and ideas of transcendence.

Josef Albers; Torsten Andersson; Olle Baertling; Sarah Crowner; Ann Edholm; Paul Fägerskiöld; Spencer Finch; Marcia Hafif; Georg Herold; Alfred Jensen; Donald Judd; Imi Knoebel; Meuser; Helen Mirra; Ryan Mrozowski; Frida Orupabo; Harvey Quaytman; Michael Schmidt; Richard Serra; Stanley Whitney; John Zurier.

via Nordenhake, Berlin
Featured Image: Installation view, Richard Serra, Step-Up, 1988 and Stanley Whitney. Nordenhake, Berlin. Image Gerhard Kassne