Reinhard Reitzenstein

Carmen Lamanna Gallery

Reinhard Reitzenstein’s recent solo exhibition here is founded upon the primordial—forces of nature observed and weathered. These things are not lumped together lyrically, however; they are implicit. The works are almost elegant, and perpetuate a faith in a nimble, unbiased imagination.

The two liveliest of the four pieces are entitled Sky Cracking and Preparing the Head to Take a Position in the Infinite. These are composed of half-inch-thick forms adhering to the wall in iconographic arrangements. Some of the forms are linear and some ambiguous cutouts; esthetically they are like momentous diagrams, of matters not subject to reason.

Sky Cracking is a configuration of three units: a sandblasted aluminum-plate form, a steel plate in the form of a line, and, in two sections, a third unit of sandblasted open-cast aluminum. The piece defines an area a little over 8 feet high and a little over 12 feet long, across which the tilted steel line teeters upon the tip of its own zigzag, which punctuates the line at midlength. Poised upon the bottom left of this line is the floorward-pointing aluminum plate, a schematic object whose appearance is like a symbolic condensation of torpedo, lunar, skeletal, and shovel shapes, yet spare and enigmatic enough to be none of these as easily as all of them. Off the tip of the other end of the line the bipartite cast aluminum seemingly has a bomblike nose aimed heavenward; its lower half is emblematic of either bomb-or fish-tail or both. These are aligned vertically with no middle shape between them, making the identity of the image incomplete and, like the others, unresolvable. The ensemble as a gestalt is succinct, lustrous, a preverbal version of some fundamental dilemma whose outline but not whose outcome is glimpsed.

The beautiful Preparing the Head to Take a Position in the Infinite is predominantly a constellation of two unique linear shapes within a field determined by a grid of 12 five-inch crosses. In their midst is a dark, painted-aluminum, bilobed shape. The imagery of these elements is again a condensation—conventions for technological notation are completely merged with abstract figurations of natural forms. The dark shape is nonspecific enough to make viewers aware of their instinct to designate it, as the head itself, or that which the head must comprehend, or some marker of the route the head must traverse. Yet these elements resist functioning wholly as symbol or as object. Their metallic tangibility brings one to the brink of disavowing any signification at the very moment one recognizes their latent readability, familiar from charts, scribbles, and schemata.

Along with the interchangeability of interpretations in these works something personal remains in the imagery, conveying a conscience and sense of humor without paranoia or irony—a resynthesis of the interplay between elemental forces and their symbolic derivatives.

Jeanne Randolph