schwarz // weiß
Hamish Morrison Galerie is delighted to present a large group exhibition as their first exhibition for the new Berlin art season.
There is perhaps no other contrast that is as fundamental as the contrast between light and dark. This doesn’t just apply to art, but is entirely existential. We need only to think how strongly we are tied to the continuous change between day and night. Hence, in the history of creation, in Genesis, the creation of light and its separation from the dark is placed at the beginning. In art, this basic contrast is reduced to the exclusive use of white and black. It is intrinsic to every kind of graphic art, more so than to any other artistic genre or technique. Be it the use of a simple pencil, of drawing ink, printer’s ink or any other black paint, black adhesive tape or cut-out black carton on white paper, as with silhouettes or collages – it is always the same fundamental contrast that manifests itself, though without visually preferring either one or the other part: white has the same value as black even if, in terms of process, the black is usually placed on a white base (literally black on white). Foregoing the use of colour or three-dimensionality limits the range of the design, but makes a concentration on plane, non-perspective, abstract markings, or indeed on different structures, easier, especially on homogenous planes.
Due to the both decorative as well as potentially emotional qualities, Jugendstil and Expressionism already valued working in pure black-and-white with a homogenous flatness. Later, because the formal elements could be rationalised more easily, it was used especially by constructive concrete and systematic art, but later also by some of the American minimalists and post-minimalists. For contemporary artists such exclusive terms are less binding, but they too still build on the achievements of previous decades. The pure white and black make it possible to present numerous possibilities of juxtaposing or linking positive and negative shapes and patterns. The homogeneous black-and-white/white-and-black is also especially suitable for realising different rhythmic effects, for example with stripe or grid structures, which nowadays are also often disrupted in some way. On the basis of this pure contrast, artists develop formal inventions that are both contemporary but also, due to its being such a fundamental element, formal inventions that seem downright timeless.
(Translation: Wilhelm Werthern)
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