6. rue Jacques Callot, 75006 Paris, France
The intimacy of a drawing always appeals to me. The touch of the hand is near; the impulse of the artist reveals itself more easily in drawing. The fragility of paper further lends to this air of tender familiarity. Drawings allow for a conversation between the artist and viewer that is less distanced than other mediums; we peer in like a forensic investigator to observe the fine details, the lines, the erasures, the tremor in the hand or the ferocity of a mark. I often have the feeling that the artist has just left the room as I look at a drawing. All of this to say that I was pleasantly surprised when I happened in at Galerie Loevenbruck to catch the Werner Reiterer show.
Comprised of a series of drawings, and a couple of echoing installations, Werner Reiterer’s current exhibition at Galerie Loevenbruck rewards our investigation with pleasure as well as depth. First, his drawings are beautifully worked, filled with care and patience. These are thoughtful pieces that present an entire canvas, not quick sketches or studies. The overall tone is a gentle medium gray, often very modulated. What contrast there is from piece to piece does not overly dominate each scene, but leads us nicely through the whole composition and gives us a focal point within which to hover. As the eye wanders over the surface of these drawings enjoying the shading and punctuation of the technique, we come upon the title, often incorporated within the work, and realize these are determined communiqués from the artist. Like a cartoon or illustrated book when image and text finally coalesce, the result is irony, delight, a laugh, a depth of interaction. I call my friend over to share in the wry wit of one particular drawing. He points to another and we read the punch line together. I return again and again to each drawing trying to decide which I like the best, which is the most hilarious. Utimately, the time spent with each work is one of connection: I feel drawn into the artist's head, teased and ameliorated by the play, and together we laugh at the absurdity and humor of it all.
In June, 2008, Reiterer had his first solo museum show in the US at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, KT. Pranks.com listed the show under their Art Pranks section. In thinking about pranksterism, numerous artists come to mind: Philip Guston, with his hooded clowns puffing on cigars and cruising in their roadsters; Jimmie Durham throwing rocks at his refrigerator in the town square; Eleanor Antin marching her 100 boots to somewhere; Ant Farm burying their beauties at Cadillac Ranch. Funny, ridiculous, darkly disturbing, these pranksters invite us into their interior world to experience some kind of catharsis through our laughter. In Native American tradition, the "trickster" is an essential mediator between the human and the divine; it is through laughter that we are opened or surprised into transcendent experience. Certainly, there is something of the brave-faced vulnerability of each of these artists that speaks to us on more than a conceptual level.
In addition to the drawings, Reiterer takes the idea of paradox and trick further with the addition of 3D enactments of the 2D narrative. From the outside window of the gallery, which is competely covered by the life-sized Emergency Exit image found as a drawing within the gallery, to the installation entitled Draft for an Altar, mirroring the drawing of a desk and chair with a note from God indicating He will be right back, there is a chicken-and-egg proposition presented by the 2D/3D replication of these little moments. Like Alice in Wonderland, I walk from drawing to object, crossing from one reality to the next, only to finally acknowledge that I am in the middle of the joke rather than just laughing at it.
-- Georgia Fee
(Images top-bottom: Werner Reiterer, Life in a Solution of Death, 2009, serigraph, Ed of 10; Werner Reiterer, Exhibition with bad breath, 2009, charcoal on paper; Werner Reiterer, Draft for an Altar, 2009, mixed media; Werner Reiterer, God’s apartment, 2009, charcoal on paper. All images courtesy of the artist and Galerie Loevenbruck, Paris)