German artist Gunther Forg will open his first museum show in the United States at The Renaissance Society on Sunday, November 20. Forg became prominent for his use of entire galleries and spaces as formats for his work, often juxtaposing large sections of muted, rich wall painting with photographs of German people and architecture. The blank stares of the larger-than-life portraits, the ambiguous invitations of doorways and stairs, and the crisp, blank walls of color combined to create an unsettling yet compelling environment. The personal observations and interjections of the viewer were important in the elucidation of the artworks’ meaning.
More recent works have been equally blank and equally provocative paintings on lead and bronze castings. The paintings juxtapose geometric areas of color very beautifully on an intimate scale. In these, thin sheets of lead have been stretched over wood in the same manner as—but in place of—canvas.
Forg’s cast bronze “paintings”—which are generally larger than the lead canvases—continue the artist’s interest in the representation and denial of meaning in Art, and their relationship to desire and loss. These bronze slabs have subtly clawed and tooled surfaces, surfaces which commemorate something, either the search for (digging) or covering up (burying) of content. Since the original action and motion of the artist is frozen in the process of bronze casting, it is hard to determine just what these surfaces are about. Again, this ambiguity and “blankness” is part of their interest. It is the viewer’s partial task to formulate the significance.