Horst Münch

Galerie Ricke

The artists of the last decade have seen to it that the younger generation of artists no longer needs to accept the purely material recognizability of works as a criterion for art. Freedom of medium, openness beyond the conventional boundaries of the arts, even freedom from style in the conventional sense are self-evident. The return to painting noted everywhere is something other than a return to the old limitations. Yet the current predominance of trend-setting results in the creation of tidy categories into which artists, even allegedly anarchistic artists, resignedly must fit. All the more astonishing to observe artists who still seek in their experiments to establish a relationship between the legacy of the ’70s and the sensual needs of their generation. Horst Münch, at age 29 representative of a generation in whose work it is possible to seek the art of the ’80s, recently displayed large wall pieces of wood and metal. There is some temptation to refer to the works as reliefs, but the artist rejects this designation. Formally viewed, the pieces are abstract compositions whose structure consists of linear, geometric forms painted in a cool color. It is not because of their size alone (they fill whole walls) that they dominate the exhibition. A glance at the spontaneously created drawings and at the acrylic works on paper indicates an avenue of progressive concentration. By reducing the representational elements to abstract structures the artist strives to autonomously transpose the visual and intuitive experience of external reality into a vocabulary of signs. In the drawings, torsolike fragments of the human body, architectural structures and images of urban circulation merge and pile up as intuitive codes to a fragile experience of reality. Regardless of how delicately this is captured in pencil, the compositions are nonetheless of great structural solidity.

The acrylic paintings on paper translate the experience of the external world in a painterly, spontaneous manner. Dark coloration and glowing, suggestive forms create a vibrant dialogue. The progression to the large-scale wood and metal wall pieces is compelling in its creative logic. Because of the noticeable process of creation, the basic abstract forms and drawings develop an ambience of spiritual sensuousness. Icarus’ dream comes to life as the primordial dream of freedom. Movement is crystallized into formed substance, approaching the lightness uniquely suggested in the drawings and paintings. The freedom with which Münch poetically introduces the repertoire of recent art history, building on a restrained use of the craftsmanlike nature of artistic work, conceals within its dialectic of emotional gesture and “constructivist” form a vibrating force from the dialogue of intellect and sensuousness. This is a route into the ’80s that does not deny its ’70s origin.

Annelie Pohlen

Translated from the German by Martha Humphreys.