Autonomie und Wirklichkeit
American Contemporary is pleased to present "Autonomie und Wirklichkeit" an exhibition by Austrian artist Stefan Sandner.
Unable to work during a long convalescence Sandner kept a sort of diary in the form of a book of post-it notes. His makeshift journal did not present the conventional long hand musings on life mixed in with quotidian observations, but instead combined a less coherent record of his existence. The chosen format seemed to inspire this difference - each thought; idea, action is contained and completed on the small area provided. All of the paintings in the show replicate one of these notes on a thirty-four by thirty-four inch canvas.
The notes painted for the exhibition include a range of simple, complicated, quietly emotional and cerebral responses to his everyday life: a prop for a game, thoughts on how to react to horizontals lines, a comment on Max Raphael's Die Farbe Schwarz, a proposal for an easier life, a repeated drawing of the bottom of his glass, a reminder about a previous work and another to call a friend. Each is a specific record of a moment, and him at that moment, representing his varying states of mind, from playfulness to serious contemplation. These 'events', each seemingly trivial and in equal parts personal, become something in his recording them and something else, or something more, in painting.
Through their realization as paintings he bluntly illustrates the exposure any artist goes through each time they publically show their work and the development of thought to something more; a "thing" in the world. As with language and abstraction these simple notes are meaningful and potentially meaningless; open to appreciation as things unto themselves, and as signifiers and signs for other things like the kernel of thought that they began with. The works are not titled (for him there is enough language there already) emphasizing that we are free in our experience of the paintings, allowing them to be both energetic, gestural and almost abstract as well as realist representations of his notations.
In James Joyce's Ulysses Joyce presents the account of a fairly ordinary day in Dublin, 16th June 1904, as a reenactment, mimicry or travesty of Homer's Odyssey, comparing the seeming simplicity of everyday life with a heroic journey. Bloom, the main character, is not revealed to us through his actions, but through sharing his most intimate thoughts presented as a stream of consciousness, an abstract presentation of the self supposedly unfiltered and unfettered. Sandner similarly exposes himself and the mechanics of his process, the quotidian subject matter working in some way to disarm the heroics of painting and perhaps the viewer. The paintings are thoughts-made-something that we can experience freely, but through the nature of their execution, all are distinctly in his hand, it is clear that this is the representation of a singular voice speaking to us through a more universal language.