Artist of the Week 02/06/06
Well, most of us, that is. Some of us do it the other way around. Like German painter Cornelius Völker. Represented in Munich, and now New York, by the excellent GrimmRosenfeld gallery (image above from their website), Cornelius starts with an object or two and explores their potential for revealing insights about abstraction. This following painting demonstrates much better than I can explain what that means:
Cornelius Volker, Hände (Hands), 2002, Oil on canvas, 160 x 240 cm (image from Theodor Lindner website).
IN what's perhaps one of the clearest descriptions of an artist exploration I've ever read, the following passage from a GrimmRosenfeld press release explains further:
I have some mutual friends with Cornelius and have had the pleasure of socializing with him from time to time. Movie star handsome and always impecabbly dressed, he's as smart and pleasant a person as you're ever likely to meet, and despite the way everyone in our circles raves about his work, he's modest and gracious and seemingly always calm. The fireworks, apparently, he saves for the inner workings of his paintings, like this earlier one:
Völker's pictures, despite what is represented in them, are about the medium of painting itself. He is more interested in the way paint depicts rather than the way it can be made to narrate or conjure relatedness to history or nature. His preference for mundane subjects allows a disconnect from figuration in order to experiment with the physicality of paint, and the way that it is manipulated by an artist's hand. In the same manner as Wayne Thiebaud or David Hockney employ the vocabulary of painting for a simplified representation, Völker uses simplified representation to discuss the vocabulary of painting.
Völker's understanding of this relationship-material, gesture-provides us an entrée into his unique, simultaneous utilization of figuration and abstraction. Intelligent modeling of bodies breaks into exquisite, abstracted bursts of color and back again. In Völker's Hands series, painted skirts become more than simply paintings of skirts: instead they are vivid, dynamic abstractions placed where a skirt would be.
Cornelius Völker, Puttiklatsch, 1997, Oil on canvas, 60 x 80 cm (Image from GrimmRosenfeld website.)
Again, whoever's writing the press releases at GrimmRosenfeld deserves a raise. I can't imagine anyone improving on this further explanation from another:
It's a cliche, I know, but there remain few things more impressive for me than an artwork's ability to get the viewer to look at his/her world in a new way. Cornelius accomplishes that again and again in the most charming of ways. Here are two more recent images:
[Cornelius'] work is dominated by the idea to lead the medium painting back to itself. It is the awareness, that the media, which [with] the painter works, will always produce only painting. That leads Völker to push the substantial connection between material and subject to the point, where they seem to merge, but actually it categorical divides them. At this the color transforms itself through its materiality in the painted object and reproduces it in the substantial texture and dimensions.The more we surrender ourselves to the pictures, the more we will swim in the painter guided stream of colors, which comes close to real figures to de-realize them at the same moment. We find ourselves oscillating between realizing and de-realizing, between formation and decomposition to get back in the end to the colors, generating this whole process.The dispute with abstraction leads Völker to assemble abstract passages in a figurative context.
Cornelius Völker, Frisur, 2005, Oil on canvas, 70 x 50 cm (Image from Galerie Detterer website)
Cornelius Völker, Hund 2 (dog 2), Oil on canvas, 50 x 60 cm(Image from Theodor LIndner website)