Gerold Miller, instant vision 156, 2019, lacquered aluminum, 110 1⁄4 × 110 1⁄4 × 5 7⁄8".

Gerold Miller, instant vision 156, 2019, lacquered aluminum, 110 1⁄4 × 110 1⁄4 × 5 7⁄8".

Gerold Miller

Gerold Miller’s work can be interpreted as existing within a continuous tension between object and space, within a relationship where the artist’s sculptures or wall pieces literally open up to the space that hosts them and deconstructs it. This show featured works in which the space actively breaks the unity of the surface, including examples from several of the thematic series the German artist has been producing for more than a decade. While Miller’s conceptual point of departure is painting, he subjects the fundamental two-dimensional code of pictorial expressiveness to a sort of genetic mutation by painting not on canvas but on aluminum supports, which he treats with brightly colored industrial lacquer, creating chromatic fields that are perfectly and above all mechanically defined.

This effect could be seen in five recent, variously sized works from the series “total object,” 2008–19, hanging in rooms adjacent to the main exhibition space, which all presented variations of a square with curved corners and an opening made in the surface, not in the center, but toward the bottom right. In this way the supporting wall became integrated into the works, while the off-center voids imbued the paintings with dynamism, particularly when chromatic bands came into play, surrounding the opening and implying a rotating motion, as in total object 211, 2010.

Miller frequently uses scale for emotional impact. instant vision 156, 2019—a square with rounded corners, measuring roughly 110 inches per side—is larger than a person of average stature with arms extended. This work has two circular openings, one at the top and one at the bottom, and the face is made up of three different chromatic zones—black, red, and pink. The lacquered surface is reflective, which here contributed to the sense that the exhibition site was part of the work, no less than the viewer interacting with it (especially given its size). The three examples from the series “Verstärker” (Amplifier), 2016–, in which a metal bar is placed vertically in a space, were of varying heights, like maquettes for monumental projects that gradually increase in size. They brought to mind the “zips” with which Barnett Newman organized his paintings’ surfaces, but which here transcended two-dimensionality and were deployed in the actual space, not only dividing it into a right and a left part but, indeed, reorganizing its very structure.

A small group exhibition concurrently on view at the same gallery included Miller’s Monoform 31, 2014, a miniaturized rendition of an idea that in other cases has been realized at gigantic scale. It was made of two aluminum bars placed at the top and bottom of a wall, as if demarcating the empty space it delineated as its “content.” But the viewer saw only an indicator, the trace of a linguistic code in a language that is known but not operational. The empty wall was our here and now, and the work became an object of thought. As the artist has said, “All art is embedded in a social framework.” Here, we could not avoid recognizing that art is our own project.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.