Günther Rost

Galerie Vera Munro

The sculptor Günther Rost is attempting to develop a new material conceptuality. His use of painted zinc sheets produces a system of notation through the minimal intervention of the dot. Applying dots in frugal rows, he suddenly disrupts his quiet application with a gash in the paint or a bump in the metal sheet. The zinc sheets have precisely creased edges that create a four-inch gap between the piece and the wall. They jut out, hovering between two- and three-dimensionality, between a neatly outlined rectangle and a triangular cast shadow. Rost paints dots, commas, lines, and other signs, lining them up on these flawless surfaces, so that they look like diagrams, like geographic keys to verses, like technical notations of intervals, like medical or biological encodings. But none of these evocations has a basis in the works themselves.

Rost’s brinkmanship between an extreme minimal treatment and nothingness is held in tow by the small format of the sheet and its unambiguous materiality. The material and the system of signs operate only to the extent that their presence is required for the perception of the sculpture. The works, which initially look like musical scores, do not allow the viewer to see a specific image. The signs do not stand for anything, do not recall anything; rather, they offer an escape from conceptuality.

In contrast to the Conceptualism of the ’60s, Rost’s new conceptualism evolves from a dialogue with the material, and it relocates the thought to a level that exists beyond the object, yet one that can be reached only by way of the object. Rost makes the object an element in a nonlinguistic grammar; thus, the shaped visuality, rejecting all linguistic specificity, probes a new autonomy of the object. But Rost’s task will be to maintain the same openness as the fragile systems he has created.

Doris von Drateln

Translated from the German by Joachim Neugroschel.