Anselm Stalder

Galerie Erika & Otto Friedrich

Anselm Stalder’s sculptural work is closely connected to his painting in that his sculptures transpose the illusionism or fictionality of his two-dimensional, pictorial reality into object-reality. It’s by no means a matter of simply making certain image motifs or figurations more palpable in a three-dimensional form, but rather of a kind of literal projection of a mysterious image on a higher plane of reality, where the tension between projection and sculptural realization can be concretely intensified and articulated.

Stalder’s sculptures don’t primarily grow out of formal questions but out of fundamental reflections on the process of artistic creation itself. In one of his new sculptures this process of reflection is, in a metaphoric sense, explicitly materialized: the methods and tools for producing sculpture are themselves represented as sculptures. Zylindererfinder oder Walzenträger (Inventor of the cylinder, or caster-bearer, 1986) is, in addition to being a two-part sculpture, a multifunctional tool. The two identical wooden forms, each with casters attached on one side and on one end, and with a broad, semicircular depression carved out of the other side, create a closed system that appears to function on the formal level from the most varied perspectives. Only on closer inspection, on discovering the transparent polyethylene plastic lining the depressions in a diagonally oriented grid pattern, does an outside element enter the picture, pointing beyond the formal closure of the piece.

A second sculpture, Unvollendeter Zylinder (Unfinished cylinder, 1986), exhibited in another room of the gallery, is a strange work, over 6 feet tall, consisting of a series of irregular curved plaster discs attached to short metal rods that radiate in a spiral from a central pole, which rises vertically from around metal plate on the floor. The plastic-lined cylindrical depressions of the first sculpture suddenly gain significance when one notices the faint grid pattern on the plaster discs, similar to the grid pattern of the plastic: the first sculpture has evidently served in the production of the second. The subtle but nonetheless persuasive connection between the two sculptures supports our perception of the second as a closed cylinder; yet the autonomous structure of Unvollendeter Zylinder soon moves to the foreground. The overarching order of the system reveals an amorphous core that is just as important as the geometric form. A situation arises in which the clarity of the sculpture keeps disappearing, in which the form’s gestalt is continuously defining itself and dissolving again into a multiplicity of forms.

Stalder’s sculptures are accompanied by a series of 25 drawings, “Zeichnungen wider jede ökonomische Vernunft” (Drawings against every form of economic rationalism, 1986), which are not directly connected to the works but grew out of the same milieu. On each sheet there is a schematically organized area with four drawings of equal size. This area is “framed” by a white border on the upper and right-hand edges of the paper that provides space for a free, associative kind of drawing, representing an emotional and intellectual potential that demands further working out in the margins. The white border stands for the thought necessary to capture emotion in visual form.

Max Wechsler

Translated from the German by Leslie Strickland

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