FRANKFURT.- Anything is possible but in contemporary art there is actually very rarely anything new, anything that really challenges our powers of perception and our mind. Were talking about works that make us a little dizzy when we contemplate them a sign that were unable to fit what we see into any of the accustomed categories. Like the works of the Berlin artists group ARTISTS ANONYMOUS, founded in 2001.
A thought experiment
Assume that we could lay all the pictures ever made on top of one another until this layering of motifs and colours took on, step by step, a uniform shade. The end of colourfulness. Perhaps only black would remain. Everything is done.
Or imagine there being a kind of reset button to delete the inner and outer flood of images. A new beginning. What was left would probably be pure white. The colour that contains all others or, according to Malevich, the monochrome zero state. Everything is possible.
Two poles symbolised by one white and one black square-shaped painting are the subject of inquiry in the exhibition at Galerie Adler: the complex web of relationships between artistic medium on the one hand and the multifaceted aspects of the colour spectrum on the other.
The two paintings mark the end points out of which everything else develops. The perfect, and hence more or less neutral, square shape, once in pure white and once in light-absorbing black, signals the conceptual approach taken by the group, one that involves in this case a return back to the basics: colour and form. The fact that we are dealing here with painted pictures follows the same line of thought, because ARTISTS ANONYMOUS always begin with painting, the original form of artistic expression.
Viewing the exhibition, the visitor is invited to forget all he has seen before and to embark on a journey into uncharted perceptual territory. Colour is not merely colour what take its place where it is not visible? Can one install colour? What sensations are evoked when not only motifs but also colours appear as mirror images?
ARTISTS ANONYMOUS create works that look like photographic negatives, make large-format photographs of painted originals, conjure images that seem like the echo of past pictures, or tackle the theme of colourlessness as an installation.
If what is new about their art were only a particularly provocative pictorial language or the use of unusual materials, it would not be so difficult to find a category to put it in and we could simply react to it in our practiced fashion for instance with casual indifference. But we find ourselves unprepared for the strange appeal exerted by the positive-negative pictures, in which we can no longer tell which is the original and which the copy, and whose reversed colour schemes prompt us to tirelessly try to define an original state.
Just as disarming is the almost painful beauty of the works. Glowing colours, harmonious forms and elegant patterns everything exquisitely and tastefully composed, guide our focus the first moment we see these works to their purely aesthetic aspect. And yet while we are looking a kind of metamorphosis occurs and there opens up before our eyes unexpectedly, and hence with all the more impact, the whole complexity of the production process and what is in some cases the radical content of the works.
Its about the art and not the artist! (AA, 2010). Thats why Artists Anonymous usually do not attend their openings and wont be on hand for this one either. Those who would like to learn more about their art neednt wait for the rare opportunity to speak with the artists in person, however, but can instead delve into the brand-new catalogue published by Dumont Verlag: Artists Anonymous, The Apocalyptic Warriors, Dumont Buchverlag, 2010, approx. 256 pages with 148 colour illustrations, including a conversation with the artists and Eugen Blume, director of the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum for Contemporary Art, Berlin, Deutsch/English,