Gerd Rohling

In the clearly structured spaces of the Nuremberg Kunsthalle, Gerd Rohling created a landscape of sculptures that extended through seven rooms. The title of this exhibition, “Der lange Weg zum guten Bild” (The long road to a good picture) was paradigmatic, given that Rohling showed works from his entire career, out of chronological order, which enabled his works to comment on and paraphrase each other.

Rohling’s paintings and sculpture address what art can be: what avant-garde can mean and what the production of an “art” object involves, as, for example, when he inscribes three oversized palettes with the names of the former members of the group “1/61” and entitles the work Freund + Feind (Friend + enemy, 1989). Rohling reflects immanent conditions and relationships in his work, which are often overlooked as preconditions of art. He is not inspired by social reality alone, but by questions of context and perception as well as formal and structural themes. Steht drauf, ist drin (Stands on it, it’s in it, 1991), consists of a wooden crate on whose front side is painted the symbol of a glass and an arrow in black. A glass cut from wood and enlarged lies in the crate, while a photocopy on the wall also depicts this glass and the arrow—not as on the crate, pointing up, but to the right of where the crate is standing.

Rohling’s work passionately engages language and the world. There is a strong desire here to relate words, symbols, and things to one another, to take metaphoric meaning seriously and use it as the basis of artistic creation. For this reason, the relationship of form and content is central to his work. In Form + Inhalt (Form + content, 1990–93), he creates a divergence between the two in order to formulate a question, present a puzzle, or hide a secret, though an associative relationship between form and content must be created in order to make the object a work of art.

Peter Funken

Translated from the German by Charles V. Miller.