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Bartha Contemporary and the Sleeper open complementary Frank Gerritz exhibitions
Temporary Ground I Territory I The Sleeper, 2015. Oil paint-stick on anodised aluminium. 4 Panels, Each 60 x 60 cm. Overall 60 x 240.6 cm. © Frank Gerritz. Courtesy Bartha Contemporary Ltd. London.

LONDON.- The forthcoming exhibitions at Bartha Contemporary and the Sleeper in Edinburgh, are the result of a four-year-long conversation with Frank Gerritz. Conducted over the phone and during meetings at the studio, they informed the compositional framework for the works in these two complementary exhibitions.

The often light-hearted exchanges of ideas and observations started by looking back at our long collaboration. We considered the human form as a fundamental sculptural component, which established the basis for a proportional system, that underpins all of Gerritz’s works. Beginning with his early cast-iron sculptures to his most recent drawings. As the conversation expanded,we began to evaluate our interest in architectural spaces, 20th Century Scandinavian Design, Music, as well as our relationship with the environment that we occupy.

During these talks, we often referred to the work of other artists from the Bauhaus such as Oskar Schlemmer or Sándor Bortnyik to more contemporary works by artists ranging from Donald Judd, Imi Knoebel to Tony Cragg. More recently the conversation repeatedly returned to the practice of the British sculptor Anthony Gormley and, in particular, the 2006 – 2012 iterations of an installation entitled “Breathing Room”. We agreed that this installation of seven interlocking spaces described the fleeting relationship between a person and the physical boundaries of space. Often stylized as an inner and outer experience, it is this connection that informed the thought processes, which resulted in the composition of the artist’s latest works.

For the past two decades, Gerritz has applied layers upon layers of graphite using soft Faber Castell 9B pencil marks on walls, paper and, as is the case in this instance, industrially manufactured MDF panels. “Definition of Space | Four Center Connection (spread my wings)” probably Frank Gerritz’s the most ambitious work on MDF to date, evolves from a concentred composition. Two elemental forms of opposing forces, placed side by side are separated by a devising line formulate this seminal work.

Rather than merely separating the two areas, this central, blade-like shard acts as a stopgap. The precise visual instant is both a descriptive tool and a reminder of the artist’s sculptural practice. The elongated horizontal structure of the work carefully counterbalanced between the open vertical and contained horizontal fields. This optical compositional device further magnifies the distinctly monumental nature of the piece. As the title alludes, each side acts like a wing, their highly light reflective surfaces glistening towards the light overhead as well as responding to the reflection of the viewer. The deceptively black appearance springs alive as the colour of the surrounding light is cast back by the densely pigmented sheen of the graphite.

From one instance to the next the experience shifts between the three-dimensional physical object to a narcissistic instance as we discern our reflection on the works evocative surface.

Gerritz’s MDF drawings render light and modulate it to such an extent that the experience is akin to viewing a sculptural space. Similarly, the artist’s works on anodized aluminium encompass a genuinely physical experience. Here the metal support turned into a body of light, at the same time offset and articulated by dark black areas of oil paint-stick, drawn onto the cool surface. In this instance composed over four panels, “Temporary Ground I Territory I The Sleeper” exhibited in Edinburgh is spaced precisely along its horizontal axis. The initially flat appearance of the works pulls the viewer to its sides, revealing its three-dimensional composition. The work appear’s to float at a carefully calibrated distance from the wall, the resulting shadow-gap further elevating the sculptural nature of the piece.

Frank Gerritz has been exhibiting globally since the late 1980’s, more recently a series of institutional exhibitions in Europe confirmed his invaluable contribution to contemporary art discourse. In 2007, the American art critic and poet Donald Kuspit called the artist “The Last Abstract Hardliner”, a title he doubtlessly retains to the present day.

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