The title of the eleventh exhibition at KUNSTWERK – Sammlung Klein – will be irritating on initial reading or hearing. What does it mean? Perhaps you initially think of “contradiction” as a categorical “no” that opposes what has been expressed so far and allows no further debate. However: contradiction can also be a reply that initiates a productive dialogue. In the “to and fro” of the arguments, things become clear; in the mutual exchange, you get to the bottom of things.
Even in the pronunciation of the exhibition title, Konstruktives Widersprechen (Constructive Contradiction) there is a certain resistance in the flow of the language. The assertion made in the title, that a contradiction can be constructive – in other words: productive, ultimately profitable – might be confusing on initial reading or hearing, and it generally results in a hesitation, a pause, usually followed by a questioning look. The reactions that the title triggers today also provided the stimulus for the exhibition concept at the outset, as part of a work project. When compiling dossiers on each artist represented in the portfolio, works that particularly attracted attention were those that produce a discontinuous appearance in the compilation of the images and thus run contrary to the commonly recognisable coherences assumed in art history. The objection that arises from the recognition of something contrasting, contradictory, perhaps only at the first glance, and the need for a pattern of thinking and perception produces the question of how the apparently contradictory can be justified. Ultimately it resulted in the decision to make this aspect a theme in the exhibition and draw attention to development and work processes in which the contradiction of the initial impression is not necessarily dissolved but becomes obvious in the consideration of artistic areas of tension.
The works presented in the first section of the exhibition defy the idea of stylistic coherence. Right at the start of the exhibition, two works by Chris Succo reflect different results of the artist’s handling of the materials and processes he has selected. The paintings by Franziska Holstein on the first floor of KUNSTWERK reflect her development in the area of tension of objective-figurative and constructive-abstract work. Wall installations with thread drawings, small-format ink works and works in larger formats mark divergent key points in the appearance of the graphical exploration space of Carolin Jörg.
As an actual contradiction and in defiance of the political framework of artistic creation, a series of works on the second floor represents items of state non-compliant art in the GDR and the USSR. In rejecting the ideological and aesthetic guidelines set by party and state, artists in both countries were excluded from the official channels of art promotion and art dealing. Examples of nonconformist art in the GDR are in the exhibition of paintings by Michael Morgner, Hermann Glöckner and Max Uhlig, which are presented in a series with prints by Gerhard Altenbourg, Carlfriedrich Claus, Eberhard Göschel, Thomas Ranft, Dagmar Ranft-Schinke and Claus Weidensdorfer. On the wall opposite, pieces by major representatives of unofficial art in the USSR can be seen. Here, the works of Ivan Chuikov and Dimitrij Prigov refer to “Moscow Conceptualism”. Leonid Sokov and Alexander Kosolapov are considered to hold important positions in “Soc-Art”.
On the top floor, young artist Manuel Knapp, who lives in Mühlacker, opens the third chapter of the exhibition Spannungsfelder – mit Fäden gespannt (Areas of Tension – Tensioned with Threads) with his installation Spacebox No. 1. With black threads he produces a space body that defies the solder of real space and places the viewer’s perception in an area of tension between spatiality and perceived spatiality. Where the apparently contradictory already shifts to the relationship of objective reality and subjective perception with Manuel Knapp, the works by artist Chiharu Shiota, who comes from Japan and lives in Berlin, and the photographs of Jyrki Paratainen from Finland lead into an inner world in which conflicting forces act in an existential and emotional way. Restriction, commitment and dependence are the big human topics echoed by these works.