berlin

Wolfgang Betke, Bildungsoffensive (Education Offensive), 2013, acrylic paint, oil paint, ink marker, and collage on canvas, 23 5/8 x 19 5/8".

Wolfgang Betke

Aurel Scheibler

Wolfgang Betke, Bildungsoffensive (Education Offensive), 2013, acrylic paint, oil paint, ink marker, and collage on canvas, 23 5/8 x 19 5/8".

A belt sander is likely the most important piece of equipment in Wolfgang Betke’s studio, allowing his works to develop, characteristically, through the repeated application and removal of paint. He grinds through or across swaths of paint and gestural lines, as well as around or on top of collaged elements, and frequently sands down the canvas itself—or, in several recent works, an aluminum ground—to such an extent that holes appear. Betke’s manipulations of surfaces through processes of addition and subtraction bring together strategies of gestural painting, décollage, scuffing, and erasure. Betke’s work thus proposes a kind of representation that is partly constructed through the remnants of what was before; as when Jacques Derrida writes of writing sous rature, the effaced mark nonetheless stands.

The face—or rather the portrait—as a metonym for an idea of

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the November 2013 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.