Anselm Reyle: After Forever
English / Chinese
22 x 30 cm
113 color and 10 b/w illustrations
For his first museum exhibition in China, in the characteristic architecture of the Aranya Art Center, Anselm Reyle installed a cross section of selected works going back to 2004: silver foil paintings, sculpture made from painted found objects, neon works, roughly molded and brightly colored ceramics, as well as a generous helping of recent abstract paintings in glittering surfaces. Most spectacularly he created a site-specific installation with a large rhomboid wind-chime sculpture hanging from the dome of the museum’s auditorium, turning on its axis. Complemented with an earlier, square iteration of this kinetic work in another hall, the catalog, like the exhibition, begins and ends in the rich atmospheric interplay of forms and shadows. By documenting the complete show in numerous installation shots and work details, the book is a testament to Reyle’s world-building. As the artist says: “The real meaning of in art is to render another world possible. A world that also has other rules and associations. This world is an island, and for some of us also a life raft. We can gather new experiences on this island. And we can transfer many of them into the real world. They can add something to and even change our lives.”
Anselm Reyle’s highly recognizable artworks offer us new organic morphologies within established systems. When the artist employs agricultural tools and industrial materials, such as horse cart wheels, bales of hay, tinfoil, polyester film, glass, or computer and car parts, he coats their surfaces in bright synthetic neon lacquer to create chimerical beasts dressed in dazzling garments spanning multiple eras. Reading these works is like decoding the DNA of these various organisms, their component materials defining the artist’s intent. Observing the raw materials he is working with, we discover that they arise from different stages in the development of human society—they are testament to technical advancements and technological developments, and witness to humanity’s constantly deepening dependence on material civilization, the process of becoming “tools of tools.” As Neil Postman writes: “Technology is a double-edged sword, a Faustian bargain. For every advantage a new technology offers, there is always a corresponding disadvantage, something between Pandora’s box and Prometheus’ gift. Every technology is both burden and blessing, not either-or, but this-and-that.” As technologies have become omnipresent, the cultural context we are situated in is to a great extent defined by how we view our relationship with them, because once a technology is accepted, it will work tirelessly to advance its own goals…
The exhibition is centered around two suspended kinetic sculptures: Windspiel (Square) (2017), a set of moving squares laid inside each other, the outer one measuring 1.68 meters, and Windspiel (Curved Rhombus) (2020), a huge sculpture of more than nine meters in diameter especially created for the Aranya Center Arena. The two aluminum sculptures slowly rotate on their own axis driven by a programmed motor. Their stacked and twisted geometric forms move in hypnotic sustained revolution, referencing both Op Art and its visual effects and Kinetic Art, where movement is an integral part of the work. The dynamic, wave-like motion of the angular constructions of the square and the curved rhombus constantly change from perfect unity to division and distortion, back and forth again. Between the light and shadow, the cool, silvery color of the curved rhombus expands into a whole spectrum of nuances and is set in contrast to the concrete rawness of the circular arena.
These two Windspiels took their original inspiration from metal geometric wind chimes that can be found at arts and crafts markets. Reyle has reduced the shapes of these filigree pendants to their basic components and enlarged them, so that the objects take on room-filling proportions. The surfaces of the wind spinners, roughly sculpted with rounded gestural motions, emphasize their materiality. Reyle’s signature foil paintings were likewise first inspired by an everyday encounter. Years ago, the artist saw a window display in a Berlin store, which was draped with silver foil all over. The connection between this display of glossy material and fundamental questions posed by his art was immediately apparent to him—the pictorial value of the banal, the interweaving of “high art” with cheap consumer materials, and the tracing of the tipping points between beauty and kitsch. While the material always retains a sculptural aspect, Reyle treats it like paint, and the folds and contours of the foil within its rectangular containment recall the brushstrokes of gestural abstraction. While the action of draping becomes the focus of the work, thematically Reyle offers a portrait of contemporary at relates to Pop’s consumer aesthetics and to Jeff Koons’ employment of glitz and hyperrealism responding to the artificial splendor we desire to transcend the banality of the everyday.
In collaboration with Cornerstone Art