LEVERKUSEN.- The exhibition "Slow Paintings" is devoted to the development of a highly involved form of painting as a continual strategy in the history of art, which emerged from the early 1960s onwards. With over 60 paintings and featuring no fewer than 32 artists, "Slow Paintings" provides a comprehensive overview of the different techniques and conceptual approaches that characterise this style of painting. The expanse of time invested by individual artists into the production of the paintings exerts its effect upon the visitor via the unique experience of sustained deceleration.
The exhibition starts chronologically with Ad Reinhardts Abstract Painting from 1961 and Konrad Klaphecks Das Kinderfräulein from1964two paintings, one abstract, the other figurative. Ad Reinhardts painting of a black cross on a black ground emphasises, with an amazing diversity of superimposed layers of coloured glazes, the meditative character of the painting itself, as well as the aspect of intense observation in this decidedly polyvalent work. Klapheck's portrait of a typewriter entitled Kinderfräulein shows the way in which the painting techniques of the Old Masters can also serveprecisely in the 20th centuryan endearing, if disturbing description of a surreal pictorial world. John Currins "Girl in Bed" from 1993 connects with this idea in a trashy way, whereas artists, such as Tomma Abts, Adrian Schiess, or Ekrem Yalçindağ, perpetuate the tradition of abstract painting in new ways.
During the course of the 20th century, artists have extended the traditional boundaries of painting in a variety of ways. Long-term projects, such as On Kawara's well-known "Date Paintings" or "Roman Opalkas Details", with its continuous series of numbers, have introduced the idea of the project into the realm of slow painting. Contrary to their conventional interpretation as sculptural works, Reinhard Mucha considers his wall vitrines to be paintings as well. This means consigning their tonal valency to a two-dimensional plane: the reverse glass painting of the frontal planes of glass and the internal reliefs, the bituminised felt board of 'found' floor coverings printed with various patterns, the zones of light and shade of the painted surfaces of the door leaves with their panels and the negative volume behind them filled with feltall of these painterly aspects are crucial here.
Recent figurative works by Alexander Esters and Sebastian Ludwig, developed especially for the exhibition, likewise explore the continuing delimitation of painting. Esters combines numerous, specially developed printing techniques using traditional components, whereas Ludwig sketches shapes onto canvases, which he then elaborately covers with tape, allowing the paint to flow over and behind the taped areas in a controlled process. These techniques presuppose a high degree of craftsmanship endowed with the power to captivate and fascinate the viewer both when scrutinising the motifs themselves and when reviewing the essence of the alchemistic means deployed.
On no account does the exhibition desire to foster a sense of competition between slow and fast painting. Instead, "Slow Paintings" is intent upon placing the emphasis on the special connection between conceptuality and elaborate composition, which entails a unique experience for the viewer: this isn't merely concerned with extremely decelerated reception on the part of the viewer. More fascinating still is the apprehension of the way in which the complex ideas and the seemingly infinite number of layers of glaze resulting from this highly involved method are superimposed upon and, indeed, even conceal one another, ultimately surrendering the sharp, intellectual contours of their origin in favor of an unexpectedly rich, new physical identity. Slow Paintings shows us in ideal-typical manner the abundant potential and continual inventiveness of painting.
With works by Tomma Abts, Ross Bleckner, Alighiero e Boetti, Michaël Borremans, Gillian Carnegie, Raúl Codero, John Currin, Alexander Esters, Bernard Frize, Franz Gertsch, Andrew Grassie, On Kawara, Konrad Klapheck, Jochen Kuhn, Sebastian Ludwig, Michel Majerus, Fabian Marcaccio, Rodney McMillian, Jonathan Monk, Reinhard Mucha, Manuel Ocampo, Roman Opalka, Laura Owens, Magnus Plessen, Ad Reinhardt, Bernd Ribbeck, Adrian Schiess, Pablo Siquier, Andreas Slominski, Cheyney Thompson, Corinne Wasmuht and Ekrem Yalçindağ.