Straight from the Cotton Fields. Naked. It’s Unbelievable
Galerie Guido W. Baudach is pleased to present its fifth solo-exhibition of work by Thilo Heinzmann (born 1969, lives in Berlin): Straight from the cotton fields. Naked. It’s unbelievable. The exhibition consists of two new works in a clear, reduced hanging. It goes without saying that these works augment the artist’s oeuvre, developing thematic and formal questions that have occupied Heinzmann consistently and intensively since the beginning of his artistic career: the limitations, implications and possibilities of painting.
From early on Heinzmann began to look for ways to detach himself from classical forms of painting and to ask after the possibilities that might be left to the medium. Initially taking the traditional canvas as his ground, he would subject it to a treatment that loosened the given structure of the regular weave before the direct application of painterly gestures in red pigment. Very soon, though, he began to work with cotton, linen or wood, and already in these early years it became clear that Heinzmann was concerned with new formal principles within the discourse of painting, principles that can be located somewhere between tradition and innovation. At the end of the ‘90s Heinzmann began to work on styrofoam, a highly fragile, common industrial material. From here on in he assembled his grounds from sheets of styrofoam cut into various sizes and structures. The resulting lines and planes prescribed a certain rhythm, which decisively influenced the overall result of the painting – the process of painting thus begins with the composition of the ground. Pigment dissolved in epoxy resin was then applied to this pure white structure – a technique that presupposed a rapid working method on account of the drying process, facilitating the quick and direct fixing of painterly gestures in the most diverse forms. The result was a variety of compositions and abstract pictures that redefined the relationship of line and plane, shedding new light on the question as to how space is created and where figuration begins. These fundamental problems of painting are still part of Heinzmann’s artistic program today. In the early works, moreover, we already see something that is developed in his later paintings, if in a different form: what appear to be primarily impulsive gestures often prove, on second glance, to be consciously and conceptually placed – calculation and spontaneity, control and chance are consistently brought into new associations.
The characteristics and specific qualities of the supporting material play a central role in Heinzmann’s painting. Be it the distressed structure of the canvas, the styrofoam, the structure-free, white-coated aluminium, or the variously coarse weave of hessian; these grounds are employed consciously and combined with other raw materials—such as pure pigment, glass, precious stones, wood, cotton wool, marbles, mussels, feathers, furs, crystals or melted lead—set precisely and emphatically in highly taught pictorial inventions. Heinzmann’s art is characterised by this systematic testing and probing of diverse gestural movements and expressive techniques. Over the years he has formulated a rich, unique language of painting and has worked out an original repertoire that is capable of regenerating itself from its own resources, of referring to itself, and constantly producing new combinations and developments. The two works presented in this exhibition, consisting of cotton wool in various forms and nuanced shades of white, are thus also directly related to Heinzmann’s first cotton-wool pictures of 2004.
Heinzmann’s works always remain abstract, but their titles occasionally open them up to more concrete levels of interpretation, where the narrative potential of the images unfolds. Art-historical references can sometimes also be discerned in the compositional arrangements. But beyond that, thanks to their minimal markings and intense depth, these clear, reduced compositions on predominantly white ground stand entirely alone. Ephemeral gestures and compelling forms are brought together. As arrangements of signs they suggest something, but leave it at suggestion; they call up associations in the viewer while consciously leaving the possibilities of interpretation open. Perfectly contoured lines, subtly conjoined forms, finely gradated structures and tonal nuances develop their own unique beauty and poetry in the openness of abstraction.