The exhibition “in your face” features a space transcending dialogue between the painterly and sculptural strategies of Benedikt Gahl and Patrick Ostrowsky. What their art has in common is that the works are non-perfect, processual and prefer an unrefined, direct language of forms. This exhibition stands for an art that follows its own aesthetic principles, does not stage itself as a design object, and does not slip quietly into its environment.
In Benedikt Gahl’s painterly positions, all formal questions are answered according to his personal, sovereign sense for aesthetics, materiality and color consistency. His art represents an absolute contrast to trivial floods of images that run within seconds over clean screens and bright displays.
Benedikt Gahl’s painting does not aim to be an even product but a window to reality, imperfect and flawed. Dirt, dust, and paint remnants from his studio manifest themselves on the surfaces of his works. Those relicts lead to the impression of a vivacious, intense production process in which the unpredictable and the artistic intuition determine the result. Though seeming informal and impulsive at first glance, the paintings are developed in a rational work process of considering, waiting and controlling. The works demand this very same attentive examination of their viewers. Many of his paintings contain hints of landscape motifs. In terms of the coloring and compositions, the individual variations of these depictions communicate with one another beyond the borders of the paintings. Those motifs, however, do not represent landscape painting for Gahl – they offer him formal reference points and a functional pretext to explore painting through painting and fathom its possibilities and boundaries. Besides painting on canvas, Gahl shows large-format paper works in the exhibition “in your face”, that are also part of his oeuvre. The fragile materiality of the paper requires a new approach and a more subtle and precise setting of composition and color. While the works on canvas are created in a process of adding and layering, the works on paper result from considering and leaving out.
The artist Patrick Ostrowsky studied in Vienna, Rome and Munich with Prof. Hans Schabus, Prof. Jorinde Voigt, Prof. Florian Pumhösl, and others. In February 2020, he received his degree from Prof. Florian Pumhösl at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste. His sculptural works fluctuate between nontransparent depth and ruptured lightness. These are industrial materials, prefabricated products or found objects the artist gradually composes to become tentative seeming sculptures. Their surfaces are left untreated, neither painted nor smoothly sanded. They challenge us to kneel down and look more closely at the structures of the raw material, into the fine notchings and deep hollow spaces where the inner life of the sculptures has been exposed. Among the wood, concrete, epoxy resin and plaster, banal seeming everyday objects lie hidden, such as a lucky penny, a coffee cup or a power cable. These relics open up a narrative level, evoking individual associations and experiences. The artist’s works are created as site- and room-specific. They often remind us of art history, for example, of antique herms or Minimal Art (“L-Form”, Robert Morris) or they pretend to have practical everyday uses. The sculpture “BURNING” came about during a scholarship in Lichtensteig (CH) in the summer of 2019 and was shown there as a participating performance work. Its main body consists of fireproof concrete and plaster. These initially liquid materials were cast, step-by-step, in a cardboard tube mounted on a broken-off piece of brick. The artist had retrieved this brick from the Thur River earlier on. An aluminum pipe was given a new function as a chimney flue. During the performance, visitors heated the sculpture like a stove in a public place. In the exhibition rooms of Galerie Rettberg, the stove undergoes a change in function from collective utilitarian object to an art object. The traces of the fire and smoke that remained on the sculpture were left there consciously by the artist. Just as dirt belongs to the painterly positions of Benedikt Gahl, these intentional blemishes are also components of the sculptural works by Patrick Ostrowsky.