“La Raó Revisada”

Fundacio Caixa de Pensiones

With a title as suggestive as it is ambitious (“La Raó Revisada,” Reason revised), Stephen Schmidt-Wulffen has curated a group show that brings together the work of seven West German artists. Diverse in their modes of expression, they all seem to share a similar intent, one aimed at overthrowing the schematism of Minimalism’s stringent agenda. However, this attitude results not so much in the relaxation or abandonment of that movement’s rigorous creative propositions as in the belief that the positivist cultural discourse on which Minimalism is based is obsolete, and that it became so the moment its signifiers were questioned. The presumed unity between object, perception, and idea has proven to be unattainable.

The ruptures that Schmidt-Wulffen wanted to emphasize are found less in plastic creation than in the discourses that mediate it. The texts that introduce the different artists illustrate well the creative process without resorting to comforting “reason.” Schmidt-Wulffen writes that alternatives to the rules of Minimalism are transgressions, and he attributes them to diversity. Minimalism demands unity and purity from a given discourse; by contrast, the artists shown in this exhibition extend the poeticization of the discourse itself and, from there, proceed to embrace everything in their reach.

Günter Tuzina and Helmut Dorner—the former employing the fundamental construction of the drawing and the atmospheric imperatives of color, the latter using the objectification of the frame and a repetitive visual standardization—recreate the nexus between objectivity and subjectivity, leaning heavily on linguistic contributions to contemporary abstraction. Günther Förg, although operating in a similar territory, obviates all subtlety when, in his photographs, he emphasizes the repetitive and formal structures of architecture; in his paintings, he underlines the idea of choice; or in his bronze reliefs, he juxtaposes matter and color. Through the architectonic form of his sculptures, Hubert Kiecol accentuates the contact of the art object with the internal experience. Harald Klingelholler goes beyond the accentuation of the ambiguous and proceeds to destabilize all identifications without resorting to any representative reference whatsoever, combining an amalgam of materials and forms in a given space. Imi Knoebel, with his wall sculptures or object-pictures, converts works into perceptual “situations,” illustrating the horror vacui that Minimalist rhetoric provokes. Finally, Thomas Struth, whose large-format urban photographs are paradigms of indifference and sterility, reclaims the individual presence of the observer. Although some of those selected can be categorized within post-Minimalism, the show clearly establishes at what point artists will take what belongs to them, after so many years of ideological servitude to one or another program.

Gloria Moure

Translated from the Spanish by Hanna Hannah