Cologne

Meuser

Galerie Max Hetzler

As an apparent exponent of a self-reflective practice, Meuser produces austere reliefs and free-standing sculptures that surpass their physical limitations as objects. He achieves this via the introduction of conceptual content in the form of visual associations and highly allusive titles. Meuser finds the material for his art—metallic shards, remnants, and assorted junk—in reality, and he discovers the sources for his titles everywhere. However, he deprives both the found objects and the titles of their original: forms, functions, and meanings, thereby challenging us to rethink our own suppositions. Thus, the historical reality of Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, after whom the two metal reliefs are titled, is completely ignored. The pieces are painted brown, but that is the only allusion to his military command. Rommel is linked to the scrap heap of German history, the material refuse of our industrial history. In Rommel III and Rommel IV, the two elements become a value-free dialectical antithesis to art. But since art includes the dimension of content, it insidiously unmasks—as a matter of course and without ironical implications—all associations and calculations as accumulated contradictions on our mental scrap heap.

This is the crux of the matter. On the one hand, the artist draws doubly (titles and materials) from the nonartistic realm in order to develop his works. In this way, artistic experience doubles reality and reevaluates it. On the other hand, the artistic character and the artistic form of these pieces derive not only from the reevaluation of things or names per se, but also from the transposition of their former reality into an allegedly new reality devoid of content; this, of course, precipitates contradictions. Anything that has ever existed and still exists in any form, albeit merely as scrap, refuse, or fragments, is transformed by moving it into the museum or gallery. Meuser stamps his own subjective associations on both objects and titles. They are his energy fields, in which transformations take place, and in which various levels of reality, both new and old, are made to overlap. And yet these works contain a paradox in that they are equally oriented toward overcoming the condition of the scrap heap.

Meuser’s art, as the dialectical antithesis to nature, history, and reality, brings forth works that initially involve possibilities of knowing and remembering. Day-to-day reality is destroyed; earlier forms of machines, tools, or the meanings of names play a determining role here, but they concern purely the formal, esthetic side. Forms, materials, and associations in Meuser’s works are merely the reflections of a reflexive, autonomous artistic reality, which can be related to nothing but itself.

Norbert Messler

Translated from the German by Joachim Neugroschel.