Critics’ Picks

Wolfgang Breuer, Oranges from Crete, 2010, toner on color copy, 11 1/2 x 8".


Wolfgang Breuer

Galerie Karin Guenther
Admiralitätstraße 71
May 29–July 17

Wolfgang Breuer’s show “Aerobics” greets visitors with an airy emptiness. Compared with the main exhibition space, the first room seems a mere thoroughfare until one discovers a Minimalist intervention as laconic as it is poetic. The piece initially appears to be no more than a lightbulb hung close to the ceiling, barely lambent in the daylight. The commonplace, here, serves as bait, yielding the unexpected: The bulb is in fact rotating—perceptible only via its circling filaments. The object’s Dadaist absurdity derives not only from the fact that it would be entirely functional if motionless, but also from the understanding that a typical spiral-base bulb, after a few revolutions, would eventually fall out or be completely screwed in. This anomaly in the guise of the mundane lends something uncanny to the work’s silent glow.

Breuer’s attentiveness to the ostensibly banal is also evident in his painterly treatment of photographs, as revealed in the ten framed works on view, many of them reworked appropriations of his documentary “street photography,” urban scenes peppered with mostly minimal sculptural interventions: graffiti tags, cable clips on lampposts, wildly papered flyers at a bus stop. An accompanying folder contains source material that complements––and starkly contrasts with––the painterly, alien appropriations on view. While the photograph in Untitled, 2008, is still partly discernible, Breuer has all but obscured the one that comprises Oranges from Crete, 2010. He creates these images by removing them from the printer before the fusing process begins, and then working brushstrokes, blots, and curls into the delicate loose layer of toner—thereby transforming the images of documentary photography into unrepeatable, almost completely abstract color-spaces. Thus Breuer, like his teacher Wolfgang Tillmans, plumbs radically expanded possibilities of photographic representation.

Translated from German by Diana Reese.