Born in Villach, Austria in 1953, the artist Gerald Domenig is a resident of Frankfurt am Main. Since the 1970s he has amassed a substantial number of his drawings and photographs. The exhibition at the MMK 1 branch of the MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main
features more than 100 photographs as well as 144 drawings, a selection of works distinguished by thematic openness on the one hand and formal rigour on the other.
Domenig studied at the art academy in Düsseldorf from 1972 to 1973 and at Frankfurts Städelschule from 1974 to 1978. His preferred artistic media are the pencil drawing and the photograph. It was he who initiated the study of photography at the Städelschule in 1976; for subsequent generations of students he has held special significance as an artist and photographer. In 1988 Kasper König invited Domenig and Franz West to stage a double exhibition at the Portikus.
Over the course of the presentation at the MMK 1, the artist will repeatedly rearrange the drawings on display. He says he would rather do this in the museum than in his studio because the museum is the only institution apart from a prison that qualifies for this kind of work ‒ ultimately the only one, because a prison cell offers even less space than the studio.
In his photographs Domenig investigates the change brought about in the motif by the camera. There need not be anything spectacular about the motif; it must merely have the potential, in the artists eyes, to transform into a work of art. Domenig is not concerned with the comparison between the motif and its illustration, but rather with the production of an image in its own right. Naturally, the objects can be recognized and identified. Yet they are only significant to the extent that they are elements of an inner-pictorial interplay. And those pictorial elements that defy classification, that shimmer and evade definitude, are of even greater importance, explains curator Klaus Görner.
In Domenigs uvre there are a number of motifs and places to which the artist returns again and again. The photographic section of the show is arranged according to such centres. There are the series of coats, of house corners and facades, the ravine, cars, and pictures that can be referred to as still lifes in the broadest sense. Many of these places are located very close to his home; others are areas in Austria that he has known since childhood. Domenig varies not only the settings but also the prints of his photos: he repeatedly enlarges those that are important to him, using a different kind of photo paper or covering part of the negative. In other cases he produces extremely large formats. These techniques testify to the fact that his concern is primarily with the picture and less with the reference to the motif.
What Domenig finds interesting about photos, prints and slides is also mirrored in his drawings: the relationship between line and surface, that between one surface and another, the gradations of shades of grey, the tilting of depth into surface all of these aspects are developed and tested in the drawings as well. In this respect, his drawings can virtually be regarded as preliminary studies in the traditional sense. The order of the numerous works is in a constant state of preparations for an exhibition. During the exhibition, the artist will continue to work on sorting his drawings. By the end of the show it will transpire whether the sorting process can be concluded.