Halftone: Through the Grid
The grid is dead, long live the grid!
For contemporary artists, grids are not anymore the result of Mondrian's or Malevich's
modernist geometry, but a machine-generated object, endlessly reproducible without the
intervention of a human hand. Call it halftone, bitmap or raster, it is always one of the many
forms of mechanical or digital processing, by which an image or a three dimensional piece is
turned into a multitude of coloured dots, or pixels, arranged in a logical matrix. This is how
digital cameras, computers and printers handle images. Any shape can be transformed into
mathematical data, and this data can be used again to produce an image displayed on a
screen, printed on paper, on canvas or carved into any material. In a curiously ambiguous
evolution, the technique offers an opportunity to work with as much as a form of
mechanisation to fight against, while the man - machine relationship hesitates between
cooperation and competition.
Hence, a constant dialogue at the heart of the show: Albert Oehlen proposed in the early
90's, through his first Computer- paintings and drawings, to manually compensate for the
deficiencies of the digitally generated image. Another influential pioneer, Christopher Wool
works with the possibilities of reproduction of his artistic gesture, operating at the limit
between the mechanical and the manual processes, adding in this case one further stage in
this exchange by transposing the rasterised pattern into the warp and weft of a rug.
A younger generation has now widely extended this reflexion, and new pictorial practices have
appeared: Jeff Elrod composes striking hybrid images with analogue and/or digital
processes, using computer softwares. Ida Tursic & Wilfried Mille create dense layered
paintings dealing with the disappearance and the re-materialisation of images, questioning
the clear distinction between figuration and abstraction, as does Toby Ziegler in his pictorial
and sculptural works, deeply related to this reflection on the digitisation of images and the
loss of information that can occur during their circulation.
John Houck's Aggregates are first produced by computer software, but then creased and
photographed, to become objects that exist between the digital and the analogue, between
two and three dimensions.
By means of precisely matching printing technologies and materials, Tauba Auerbach's
transparent pieces and polarised images also play with our visual perception of the space
works exist in.
Michael Raedecker's paintings reveal the oldest analogue precursor of the rasterisation
process: the drawing grid, while Mark Barrow & Sarah Parke use the loom, and weaving,
as another early form of matrix-based image production, which echoes in the modern CMYK
colour system. Meanwhile, Kelley Walker's pieces use the silkscreen, yet another analogue
grid, to re-appropriate stereotypical media pictures. They interrogate what is constant and
what is fluctuating in an image's shift from the glossies to the gallery.
The relation between the mathematical system and the manual intervention appears clearly in
the works of Darren Almond where mechanically produced objects form a rigid matrix, only
to be disturbed again by the artist's intervention, rendering Almond's clocks abstruse, but
strangely readable. In Navid Nuur's studies for The Eyecodex of the Monochrome, it is the
materials used and the distance to the viewer that turn a dense computer-generated pattern
into a smooth monochrome.
In a show that will take place simultaneously in the Berlin and Paris venues of Galerie Max
Hetzler, including a very wide range of media and different practices, grids become encoding
and decoding devices, which logical rigidity is ceaselessly challenged by human interference.
Halftone is organised by Pierre-Nicolas Bounakoff and Jean-Marie Gallais.
A publication (English text) will accompany the exhibition.
Simultaneously the gallery will be presenting a solo exhibition with works by Vera Lutter at
the gallery space in Goethestraße 2/3.
The website will be permanently closed shortly, so please retrieve any content you wish to save.