Rosemarie Trockel, Andreas Schulze

Monika Spruth Galerie

Rosemarie Trockel and Andreas Schulze offered two perceptual models in this exhibition. On the one hand, there was a certain continuity, even familiarity to the show: works either knitted or painted in acrylic were installed to make an interesting exhibition. On the other hand, this exhibition was markedly different: in a game with their own traditions, the artists confronted themselves and each other by way of their works.

Trockel’s eight works and Schulze’s three were shown in separate rooms. Both artists seemed to work in their individual mediums and to remain faithful in form to their previous works. But Trockel scrutinizes her own feminist idiom—still a permanent part of popular psychological interpretations—that she gives voice to in the knitted works and in the stove-burner works. Trockel seems to want to put in question the criticism that surrounds her work, to undermine easy feminist readings. Thus, all the pieces here refer to male artists, for example, the three-part tin piece with stove burners which, in color, recall Barnett Newman’s paintings; or Almost grey, 1992, which refers to Alexander Calder; or the silk screens with the moth-eaten wool which evoke Lucio Fontana’s pieces.

Viewed as a tearing down, as exposing, and revealing ambiguity, Trockel’s deconstructive method proves highly effective, as if with a double-edged sword she denounces all attempts to reduce her art to a single vision. The film shown here, in which a woman is constantly turned while her sweater unravels until she is naked, pushes the game of surplus meanings to its ultimate end. The photograph of the sweater points both in form and in its presence to Schulze’s work.

Schulze highlights the compositional elements in his work rather than the theoretical ones. He raises questions about the materials and the surface: Are there enlarged wool threads in these paintings—with their flat technique and poeticization of the surface? How does the pregnant formal language Schulze employs reference Trockel’s work? That this exhibition provokes such questions is its greatest merit. Criticism of criticism, contradiction of one’s own statements, these seem to be the fundamentals. All that is certain is that the Other is the precondition of the Structuralist game of similarity or equivalence—in life as in art.

Norbert Messler

Translated from the German by Charles V. Miller.