Asta Gröting

Galerie Sophia Ungers

The absence of content is iridescent in these untitled works by Asta Gröting. They do not announce a new direction, nor do they produce spectacular effects, but they are astonishing. One is amazed by, say, the elegance with which the artist arranges and juxtaposes materials, such as dried sunflowers with a Plexiglas vessel containing a glass pane. One is similarly amazed by a screen of shaped Plexiglas, standing on a custom-made chromium base; a brownish spot, the size of a cow pat, is placed on either side, and inside it, we can see the glass bodies that Gröting often uses. These bodies, with holes punched at the top and bottom, look like huge bottles, but they are formed from glass that has not been processed to a finished point. Before the glass is rolled into flat sheets, the process is stopped so that vessellike forms are created.

The delay or halting of a process is a characteristic that can be applied figuratively to much of Gröting’s work. Most of her pieces are light and transparent; they speak of pure materiality, of things that are employed only for their physical quality and not for their content. Yet in their harmonies and contrasts they produce nuances of meaning. Sunflowers and Plexiglas do not contradict one another, yet associations can oscillate between them. The pieces obey no law and transcend the space they are in, for they strive toward a “pure space” or vacuum through their transparency. All these works show one formal element in common, a circular aperture; cylindrical shapes also recur. Through this repetition they seem to constitute a series, to become a theme and variation.

Gröting’s works pose an old question: what does chance, which brings all these things together in this way, look like? Found objects and manufactured things are combined so thoroughly that the resulting piece carries no material disjunction within itself. Yet these works function as the catalyst for countless associations. Gröting does not devaluate medium into pure material; the transparency of these pieces reveals more than emptiness. They are semipermeable skins for statements on contemporary art.

Jutta Koether

Translated from the German by Joachim Neugroschel