Richard Serra, Step-Up, 1988, hot rolled steel, Overall dimensions 300 x 225 x 5 cm and Stanley Whitney, Stay Song 67, 2019, oil on linen, 102 x 102 cm
Torsten Andersson, Olle Bærtling, Ann Edholm, Helen Mirra, Harvey Quaytman, Michael Schmidt, Stanley Whitney ,
Josef Albers, Marcia Hafif, Georg Herold, Alfred Jensen, Donald Judd, Imi Knoebel, Richard Serra
»ORTHODOX ABSTRACTION (and of course there was poetry)«
Berlin , June 27, 2020 - August 28, 2020
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 its founding in 1976. All artists dedicated themselves with rigour and discipline to the exploration of specific aspects of abstraction as both a formal and referential notion. In doing so they developed conceptually different and, in cases, radical approaches, that demonstrate the diversity and inexhaustibility of the geometric idiom.
An important point of reference are Josef Albers's disarmingly reduced paintings from the "Homage to the Square" series (1950-1976) in which 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. This notion 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.
Marcia Hafif, Viridian, 1982, oil and wax on cotton canvas, 203 x 213 cm
Donald Judd, Untitled, 1986, anodized aluminum with red acrylic sheets, 50 x 100 x 50 cm
Josef Albers, Homage to the Square, 1961, oil on masonite, 44.5 x 44.5 cm
Olle Baertling, Univers en formation, 1951, oil on canvas, 104 x 116 cm
Installation view: Olle Baertling, Univers en formation, 1951, oil on canvas, 104 x 116 cm and Alfred Jensen, Untitled (The Atmospheric Variants in the Colour Hues), 1952, watercolour, graphite and oil on paper, ainted verso and recto, 42.8 x 35 cm
Helen Mirra, Folded waulked triangle, 2015, undyed wool from two black sheep, strand of wool dyed with tapinella atrotomentosus, 47 x 50 x 3 cm
Helen Mirra, Folded waulked triangle, 2015, undyed wool from two black sheep, strand of wool dyed with cortinarius semisanguineus, 46 x 56 x 5 cm
Helen Mirra, Folded waulked triangle, 2015, detail
Alfred Jensen, Untitled (The Atmospheric Variants in the Colour Hues), 1952, watercolour, graphite and oil on paper, ainted verso and recto, 42.8 x 35 cm
Installation view: Ann Edholm, Nacht-und-Nacht I , 2020, oil on canvas, 125 x 105 cm and Richard Serra, Step-Up, 1988, hot rolled steel, overall dimensions 300 x 225 x 5 cm
Ann Edholm, Nacht-und-Nacht I, 2020, oil on canvas, 95 x 105 cm
Georg Herold, Untitled, 1988, mixed media and bricks on canvas, 170 x 150 cm
Stanley Whitney, Stay Song 67, 2019, oil on linen, 101.5 x 101.5 cm
Untitled (from Berlin Stadtbilder), 1976-77 / 2002, gelatin silver bromide print, toned gold, in artist's frame, 43 x 59.4 cm, ed. of 6
Torsten Andersson, Björken, 1972 - 1982, oil and charcoal on canvas, 126 x 126 cm
Harvey Quaytman, What if?, 1987, acrylic and rust on canvas, 71 x 71 cm
Imi Knoebel, Untitled (Ritzbild), 1985, acrylic on masonite, 183 x 183 cm