Critics’ Picks

View of “Stefan Thater: Pond.” From left: Untitled, 2007, oil and tape on Styrodur, 22 7/8 x 28 3/8 x 2“; Untitled, 2007, oil on Styrodur, 20 5/8 x 22 7/8 x 2”; Untitled, 2007, oil and glaze on Styrodur, 22 7/8“ x 27 3/4 x 2”; Untitled, 2007, oil on Styrodur, 10 1/4“ x 10 1/4” x 2".


Stefan Thater

Galerie Karin Guenther
Admiralitätstraße 71
April 12–June 23

Despite referencing Color Field painting and Minimalist art, Stefan Thater’s new paintings defy easy categorization. An enigmatic resistance to any all-encompassing system is inherent in the reductionist nature of his compact, square-format works; their sophisticated, accentuated simplicity exudes an air of autonomy that is both restrained and introspective. Though the works appear extremely solid, Thater in fact paints on lightweight foam, normally used for flower arrangements, and processes this material to make it appear more substantial. Beneath his uppermost layer of brushstrokes, still visible on the monochromatic surfaces, underlying layers of paint peek through. With their rounded corners and their relieflike traces of Thater’s process, the paintings read not just as flat surfaces but as substantial, bodily entities. Upon these well-worked surfaces, Thater then adds unexpected two-dimensional forms, similar to angular Rorschach tests, drawn from found objects: By flattening containers and other packaging, and then transposing their outlines onto silver foil, the artist creates abstract collages that appear to float. He employs this technique in a number of works, yet there is no sense of repetition. These are individual, unique pieces; whether hung alone or arranged in a colorful syntax, they create a poetic space. “Pond,” the exhibition title, is apt—the pictures are as abstract as the surface of still, quiet waters, and their opaque, dense colors allow us to imagine their carefully concealed depths.