André Butzer

January 17 - March 10, 2012

Galerie Guido W. Baudach is pleased to present an exhibition of new paintings by the artist André Butzer, resident at Rangsdorf by Berlin.

The four large-format paintings exhibited here are of elemental visual force and complexity. They are part of a recently developed series, the so-called ‘N-paintings’, and are composed throughout of black formations surrounded by an extremely bright, shimmering field of colour. Characteristic traits of Butzer’s previous work coalesce here with novel painterly elements to produce something entirely new.

What may initially appear to be a geometric or architectonic pictorial construction is in fact, for each individual picture, a newly painted creation that bears the fundamental relationships of being within it. With an eye to Cézanne and Signorelli, the supposed opposites of life (upright) and death (lying prostrate) meet and merge in horizontal and vertical strips of black. The ‘N-paintings’ reveal a creative violence that no longer avails itself of any narrative or motif. The violence is completely transposed into sparse pictorial means, a painterly process that takes place everywhere at once – light grounds and hand-painted black strips, painted in, brought out. These black formations are coloristic intensifications conceived, in relation to the surface as a whole, as regions of colour that overpower any sort of symbolic structure with pigment and light, or, as the artist puts it, bring it to the point of ‘annihilation and incineration’. Butzer derives the measure of this relationality from the self-imposed number ‘N’. ‘N’ has accompanied him through many years of creative work; initially, for instance, in works made from 2001 onwards for the so-called ‘N-house’, as a symbol of a fictive place in which all colour is kept. Since then, ‘N’ has become a coordinate for Butzer’s pictures – a cosmic number as an artistic measure for calculating visual creation. Crucially, this does not imply any sort of graphical or secular-mathematical image computation, but rather a calculation with the colour values that set the pictures in motion.

The complex development of André Butzer’s art culminates in these ‘N-paintings’, in the final dissolution of that opposition which has defined his work up until now – an opposition between the ‘grey’ and the ‘colourful’ is dissolved in favour of a heightened form of ‘potential coloration’. What seems to be a light grey actually tends towards a shade of white containing the primary colours blue, red and yellow; fine nuances of these colours flare up in different sections of the pictures before receding back into them again. The ‘N-paintings’ secrete their colour, and thus the colours are not perceived by the viewer as being represented in themselves in the sense of a naturalistic rendition. The image generates its own intrinsic illumination, it is the sum of all colours, an accumulation of light. Painting becomes a locus of the transcendental, a threshold, and thus also an impossible or non-place of existential consequence.

This brings us to the core of Butzer’s art. He doesn’t illustrate the world as we know it; he creates abstraction in the highest degree. But this abstraction is not to be confused with a transposition of ideal values into symbols on the analogy of the principles of constructivist art. Butzer does the opposite. Each image is a new and thus non-transferable setting. Like Piet Mondrian before him, he produces motif-free regularities that have to be explored time and again. Butzer’s painterly practice is not an illustrative procedure, but a creative process in the original sense of the term ‘Creation’. Space, light and colour appear as aspects of life in these pictures; the relationality of life and death, understood and pictured as a unity, is inscribed into each individual work.

André Butzer has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions at home and abroad (selection): Kestnergesellschaft, Hannover (2011) / Kunsthistorisches Museum – CAC Contemporary Art Club at Theseustempel, Vienna (2011) / Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand (2010) / Kunsthalle Nürnberg (2009) / ZKM, Karlsruhe (2008) / MUMOK, Vienna (2008) / Sammlung Goetz, Munich (2007/2006) / Kunstverein Ulm (2005)/ Museum der Moderne Salzburg (2005) / Kunstverein Heilbronn (2004) / Staatsgalerie Stuttgart (2004) / Kunsthalle Hamburg (2003) /Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Baden-Baden (2002).

From 1996 to 2000 André Butzer was a member of Akademie Isotrop, which he co-founded.