Wolfgang Guy

Wolfgang Luy’s work was articulated in different ways in the two spaces of this gallery. The upper floor contained a single environmental installation, the lower floor six structures, four arranged on the floor and two on the walls. The installation piece, Echo and Schatten (Echo and shadow, 1988), featured seven tall raw-wood columns wedged between floor and ceiling in an irregular circular pattern. Together with the supporting columns of the gallery, they formed a sort of temple. The equilibrium of the wood columns was precarious; each trunk rested upon layers of blue-painted wood, cut out in different shapes. Stylized leaf shapes in green-painted wood, wedged between the column and ceiling, acted as capitals. Live green potted plants rested at the bases of each column. In this installation, no element of nature remained untouched by a process of domestication. The wood of the columns was squared off, and the live plants seemed to follow the “furnishing code” for mass-produced apartments. The work itself was counterpoised between the sublime and the domestic, between nature as a sterilized product and nature as stylized decoration.

In his smaller pieces here, Luy chooses to mimic the identity and behavior of the toy. It is not the archetypal version of the toy as “companion,” a projection of the individual small element in the world. For Luy, the toy is like a large model, reflecting the broken matrix of modern compositional structures; it indicates the spectral character of arrangeability common to modern ideas regarding construction. Luy’s multiperspective configurations are representations of an abstract theatrical stage that reflects back on itself. On this abstract stage, mannerism reopens its arms; indeed, in Luy’s work, the backdrops and the wings—the frames assigned to enclose the hypothetical theatrical action—constitute the true object of the dramatized problem. Thus each structure or composition is configured as a mask, indicating that the void contained within or at its center—as the site of the ever-changing Possible—is the new creator.

Luy also takes as a model the mass-produced object—dismantled into parts and sold in a packet, to be privately reassembled through the solitary game of Order. He explores the fragmented, piecemeal worlds of the “do-it-yourself” object, worlds for which a perfect rebirth will depend on obedience to the ideal forms that are outlined. Closed off in the department-store boxes, the metaphysics of form await, to be brought to light in the mass society. For Luy, every model that is multiplied in the montage process is a specter, and every architecture based on it is a temple that celebrates the spectral destiny. It is no accident that, in the “temple” installed here, the bases of the wooden columns are made up of remnants that could be derived from the crumbling away of a whole, but that could just as well be applied toward its reconstruction. But the seven live plants also rest on these bases. Thus, at a single point, we find coexisting both the sign of the montage, as a signal of a Modernist esthetic, and the domesticated and serialized image of a natural element. The bases of these columns bring together dead and living aspects of the artificial world; they represent the frozen alchemy that can be seen in much of Luy’s work.

Luciana Rogozinski

Translated from the Italian Meg Shore.