Approaches to Color

Nicholas Bodde, Hans-Jörg Glattfelder, Gottfried Honegger, Sigurd Rompza

ActualitéDu 17 mars au 5 mai 2018

Galerie Lahumière’s new show, Approaches to Color, features four artists of differing generations : Gottfried Honegger (1917–2016), Hans-Jörg Glattfelder (1939–), Sigurd Rompza (1945–) and Nicholas Bodde (1962–). All live in Germany or Switzerland, and all practice a rational, geometric abstraction also known as art concret. Their visual explorations, often based on theories of form but also grounded in science and mathematics, focus in particular on the relationship of color to space and light. They thereby follow the tradition of Zurich concret artists, notably Max Bill, who stated as early as 1949 : “We call art concret works of art made using a technique and laws that are entirely specific to them, without relying on external input from tangible nature or its transformation, that is to say without employing a process of abstraction. The tools of our work are color, space, light and movement. By imparting form to these components we can forge new realities, and abstract ideas that previously existed only in the mind are now being made visible in concrete form.”

For Gottfried Honegger, these fundamental issues were inextricably linked to a socially aware approach to art which always underpinned his artistic commitment. In the spirit of the Werkbund, he felt that art was not an end in itself, but must play a role in the development of society. “Art must leave its gilded frame and move into real space,” he declared. “Art must come down from its pedestal and become part of everyday life.” Viewed in this light, his use of relief represented a desire to leave the virtual, fictional space of easel painting and to enter real space. Honegger’s metallic reliefs therefore eschew effects of impastoed paint and replace it with the sleek, anonymous finish of gloss. The finely cut round or rectangular shapes of his reliefs project into the beholder’s space by creating subtle plays of light and shadow that assert the materiality of the artwork.

Such reflections on the status of an artwork, on how it is displayed, and on the role of the beholder, are concerns also shared by Hans-Jörg Glattfelder. His works are the fruit of extensive theoretical research into the relationship between art and science. They are based on systems conceived in the goal creating what he called “a special realm for reflecting on your own perception, on ‘perceiving perception,’ especially the perception of space.” With the series titled MNE (Métaphores Non Euclidiennes), begun in 1984, he is not just interested in the phenomenon of the interaction of colors within programmed structures, but he also reintroduces perspective and the illusionist representation of depth into the realm of abstraction. This combination of abstraction and illusion, flatness and depth, generates visual tensions between space and surface in Glattfelder’s works.

Sigurd Rompza has expressed a determination to stick with pure vision in an equally radical and singular way by focusing, since 1985, on questions of the perception of color in relationship to light. His reliefs, which he calls objets muraux (wall objects), explore the mechanism of vision by actively soliciting the beholder’s eye. Rompza has always combined painting with theory, and interrogates what he calls “the action of seeing” by developing complex forms that are very specific to him : reliefs with angled corners, reliefs with concave shapes, reliefs that play on effects of perspective, diagonals, and symmetry. Their surfaces explore the alternation of glossy and mat areas, the contrasting use of bright and dark colors, and positive and negative shapes. His “wall objects” prompt the beholder to keep a sharp eye, reminding us that, in Rompza’s opinion, “the mystery we like to talk about and expect to be an integral part of art concret is…nothing other than the pictorial interaction produced by the act of seeing.”

Nicholas Bodde’s approach to color is more intuitive and is based on direct experience. He is interested in the chromatic phenomena generated by applying color in successive layers on aluminum surfaces. Colored strips are juxtaposed in strikingly lively, contrasting, original and occasionally garish combinations. The effect varies greatly depending on the format he adopts (rectangular, round, or elliptical) and on the type of energy he seeks (diagonal and dynamic, or horizontal and static). It may convey an impression of tension and dynamism or, conversely, of peace and calm. Bodde also introduces variations in the luminosity of the surface of his works by playing on differences in width and thickness, and by exploring effects of smoothness and roughness. Bodde’s large-scale works plunge the beholder into the “phenomenon of color as color”— the power of his works is therefore due to their internal dynamic and their interrelationship with the exterior.

Domitille d’Orgeval traduction Deke Dusinbere


Approaches to Color. Nicholas Bodde, Hans-Jörg Glattfelder, Gottfried Honegger, Sigurd Rompza