The exhibition MOTIONS OF MATTER puts painterly positions of the Informel, current sculptures by Mahdad Alizadeh and performative works by the sculptor Stella Geppert into an exciting exchange. The interplay of aesthetic similarities is immediately striking. A free ductus, which resists a strict shaping of form, manifests as visual means and as a dynamic principle, and thus dominates the artistic works. The processual is the pivotal point of this cross-generational dialogue. The process remains visible in the drawings, paintings and sculptures as a trace, gesture or direct expression. In classics such as László Lakner or Georges Noël, this is evident in scriptural pictorial elements, scratchings, or procedures such as écriture automatique.
Stella Geppert explores the changing relationship between artistic material and body movement as a pictorial process in a performative way. In the center of the gallery are two sculptures of the Hieroglyphic Ceiling series (2019) installed. During the performance COMMUNICATION CAPTURES, the space-consuming work captures verbally and nonverbally triggered movements of the head while talking, in drawings. Performers, equipped with a stick on their heads, which reaches up to the paper ceiling of the room construction, interact with each other. A piece of charcoal is attached to the top of the headgear, which incessantly traces the movements of the participants.
Durchpulst und umpaust (1986) by Gerhard Hoehme is directly juxtaposed with Stella Geppert's performative sculpture. The large-format all-over painting, whose restless density of red-brown brushstrokes only fades into bright blue at the edges of the canvas, is an impressive example of how Hoehme triggers various visual perceptions in the viewer. In addition to distanced vision, the intention is to stimulate haptic vision that activates the sense of touch. Three long plastic cords in red, blue and light green, which leave the framing of the picture and extend it into space, reinforce the communicative effect of the picture and Hoehme's reception-aesthetic intention. Furthermore, the cords in their colorfulness are reminiscent of modeled representations of the human circulatory system. The image becomes a physical counterpart for the viewer.
The clay works of Mahdad Alizadeh can also be related to physical qualities. In their direct shaping, they initially evoke archaic sculptures, but at the same time can be imagined as futuristic organ proliferations. "Null" (2023), a work which exploded in the kiln, is sorted fragmentarily on a table, as if in an archaeological excavation. The fragments are a memento mori and at the same time testify to the potential power of matter.
Alizadeh's sculptures enter into direct dialogue with Stella Geppert's charcoal drawings, in which she stimulates her organs with the help of a massage and sound technique and thereby tactile movements into the canvas indirectly. The black-and white images could be read as x-rays, except that here the interior of the body is not x-rayed but felt.
Overcoming fundamental dichotomies such as body and mind, which have defined Western thought since the Renaissance, was an important aspiration of many informal artists. The oscillation of images between material presence and immaterial signs, that can be perceived throughout the exhibition, testifies to these efforts. Henri Michaux's poetic works on paper as notations of an unconscious, inner state are paradigmatic of such. Stella Geppert's performative drawing techniques, working with the intelligence of the body, are also a practice to explore the entanglement of matter and mind in their possibilities. In encountering the works of Informel, she thus simultaneously updates, dynamizes, and expands a field of discourse that has been virulent since postwar modernism.
Text (translated from German original): Charlotte Silbermann