Neue Alte Brücke, Frankfurt, Germany
One of the newer additions to Frankfurt, the Neue Alte Brücke gallery offers its first solo presentation with an exhibition from German artist Florian Roithmayr. After a series of promising group shows over the last year that introduced the dealer’s focus – clear, minimal, conceptual – it’s a pleasure to penetrate a particular artist’s practice deeper than the adroit one-liners seen so far.
Here Roithmayr presents a series of abstract sculptures that, along with a heavy conceptual underpinning, are beautiful artworks in the historical sense: aesthetic, well-crafted, striking. The show consists of three sculptures and four photo-collages – all sparse, lean pieces of deceptive simplicity and sophisticated construction. The first two sculptures in the main space look like frames for unfinished systems: a room screen without actual panels, a rack without shelves or a pedestal with no solid surfaces. The thin, delicate struts that form the outlines are not wood but welded steel covered with an oak veneer; within the armatures are sections of die-cut wood or etched wax tablets, both endowed with complex patterning.
Contrasting materials are juxtaposed to great effect: an intricately etched plate of clear Plexiglas, for example, lies upon a small shelf over a black-and-white photocopy, a light scroll of white paper stands upright upon it rather whimsically. The third sculpture is bigger and takes up the entire small secondary space: something akin to a packing crate, blown apart and suspended from the ceiling, creating a maze-like space. Hanging MDF strips are covered with hand-drawn geometric patterns of ever-widening circles, like those made with a childhood spirograph. The titles – Coming of the New Planets, Belly of the Whale, and Eventually Everything Happens (all 2007) – suggest more than their visual and tactile appeal, indeed their crafted complexity is equally matched by their conceptual foundation, with each sculpture referencing a stage in Joseph Campbell’s analysis of hero myths.
Campbell’s five stages are conflated into three: the starburst formation of the wood paneling in the first sculpture references the 1921 painting New Planet by Russian artist Konstantin Yuon, where the October Revolution is illustrated as a cosmic event and this idea of a world torn apart portrays ‘the call to adventure’; Belly – which is a system devoid of support, the feeling of unassisted isolation accentuated by the nearby photo-collages of floating white corners – reflects ‘the road of trials’; while the overwhelming Eventually represents the journey’s end, the return or apotheosis. The show confirms that we can expect more from both enterprises, the artist and gallery alike.
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