March 27 — May 9 2015
Lazy Poet Read A Book
Galerie Conradi is pleased to present Lazy Poet Read a Book, a set of new works by Suse Bauer in which she revisits her critical exploration of the painter’s support medium and questions of composition.
In the exhibition, coins, blanking chads, nails, worm-shaped ceramic curls, and similar detritus add up to a subjective collection that might have its origin in the artist’s studio, in a personal interest in anthropology, or in an effort to build a record of a history. Together with pictures and fragments of pictures, these elements are arranged on five large monochrome primed canvases on metal backings and held in place by magnets. The various components form temporary ensembles that reveal closer or more distant affinities and read as pictorial proposals the artist offers the viewer. The ceramic objects evince traces of their manual facture; they are bits and pieces isolated from the physical context of the studio in which they figured as tools or residues of the creative process. The painted pieces of canvas as well as the paper monotypes—a printing technique in which only a single print is made from a plate, producing a unique work of art—serve as visual media duplicating the canvas, reducing the latter to the status of a colorful backdrop.
As in earlier works by Bauer, similar objects appear several times over in the arrangements, functioning in different ways in the respective visual contexts. Yet the magnetic fixation of the objects on the canvas leaves the arrangement open to modification, turning the index of the artist’s manual intervention into a compositional proposal, a status quo between random configuration and signifier that operates on different scales.
The compositions, moreover, are now created in the horizontal register: laid out flat on the ground, the canvas acts as a segment of floor or the surface of a desk or drafting board, to be subsequently set upright like a painted panel. This approach has its origin in Bauer’s use of the scanner, with which she turned various paper and cardboard arrangements into digital collages she then printed out to make wall pictures. Calling the picture plane a “flatbed” (Leo Steinberg introduced the term in “Other Criteria” with reference to Robert Rauschenberg’s work, alluding to the printing press’s flatbed) has been one way since the advent of postmodernism to describe the ways artists have used the visual support medium for purposes other than the illusion of depth: as surfaces on which diverse information can be placed and assorted.
The metaphor of the computer display as a desktop builds on the same conception of the visual surface; our habits of seeing have adapted to the idea of the monochrome flatbed as a user interface on which information is collated. Suse Bauer’s arrangements transform that interface into the scene of an artistic gesture that acknowledges the need for sorting but defies the attempt to impose a univocal reading.
Curated by Rebekka Seubert, two guided tours of the exhibition have been held on April 8 from 6 to 7pm. The archaeologist Kay-Peter Suchowa, who will excavate the foundations of the old city wall and the earliest Church of Saint Nicholas on Hopfenmarkt until June, and the philosopher Roger Behrens, who studies critical theory and the aesthetics of postmodernism, shared their particular perspectives on the exhibition with the audience.