patternsthatconnect

abstract art, a systems view

Posts Tagged ‘Klaus Weber

Against Nature ( A Rebours)

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Previously, I posted about an artwork by Klaus Weber subtitled Against Nature an allusion to the novel A Rebours (Against Nature, or alternatively Against the Grain) by J.K. Huysmans.

I had also seen a photo of another art work entitled Against Nature, this one by David Batchelor and I had wondered if the latter work also referenced the Huysmans novel. Noting that it was on display at the University of Warwick, I hoped to see it soon. Well, soon arrived recently and I got to view the piece. I also recently got to talk with the artist, who confirmed the reference.

against nature 1 against nature 2 against nature 3 against nature 7

Reading his book Chromophobia, the reference might have been obvious. He writes with affection on A Rebours.

The colours in the piece are ‘unnatural’, neon, flourescent, artificial, of the city rather than of ‘nature’. Made from second-hand, discarded lightboxes, neon signs, exit signs etc, with painted plexiglas and light shone through them, they are also repaired, re-used and recycled (so not “against nature” in that respect).

I heard him say recently that there is too much brown, grey and magnolia (non-colours) in British contemporary art, and that you can hardly speak of “bright grey” or “bright brown”. I think he is right (though I did shortly afterwards hear someone use just that term “bright brown”. The sentence went something like: “It’s not a dull brown though, it is a bright brown… copper”).

I love this piece of work. It has some painting in it even though we would hardly call it a painting. It is almost as if the colours have been freed from the constraints of pigment and medium, yet in a totally unnatural way. “Pure” and “impure” at the same time.

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Against Nature

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When I was an art student, many years ago, our Aesthetics tutorial group were encouraged to read Against Nature by JK Huysmans, one of those books that I find stays with you for a long time, in that it keeps coming back to memory. I do not know how much that is to do with the brilliance of the book and how much the brilliance of the tutor.

When I was visiting Nottingham Contemporary recently I saw a copy in the book store and wondered why they had it there. Then, when I saw the Klaus Weber exhibition, it became clear.

Sun Press (Against Nature) contains layers of allusion to the natural, and our idea of it. A heliostat on the roof concentrates the sun’s rays to print A Rebours (Against Nature) by JK Huysmans in the gallery below. The ultimate natural force is harnessed to slowly reveal a book that was explicitly a break with the 19th century Naturalist style of literature.

An alternative translation of the book title is “Against the Grain” you can read the whole book here.

Written by Andy Parkinson

December 26, 2011 at 9:45 am

Klaus Weber at Nottingham Contemporary

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Visiting the Klaus Weber show at Nottingham Contemporary the other day I realised that one of the things I like a lot about Nottingham Contemporary is that the gallery attendants talk to you about the art, if you want them to.

I noticed that in this piece one of the heads was missing…

…and I had fallen for the artist’s little joke when I asked the attendant of it had actually been stolen or damaged or if it was part of the piece. You guessed the answer! I asked if she had met the artist, which of course she had, and was able to tell me all about his visit to the gallery.

The exhibition, showing until 8 January 2012, is in two parts: If you leave me I’m not coming is Weber’s solo show, whereas Already there! is  Weber’s selection of artifacts from the Science Museum, The Ashmolean Museum, Berlin’s Bode Museum, Archaeological and Zoological collections of University College London and art works mostly from the Tate collection.

Already there! represents our tentative understanding of ourselves – belief systems since discredited or abandoned. The exhibition is perhaps a memento mori of our own scientific and social systems – now the apogee of human achievement. In the future our own artefacts will be just as charged and curious Weber seems to suggest – part of another natural process of decay.

(from the notes on the exhibition web page)

As well as the heads already mentioned If you leave me I’m not coming includes Bee Paintings, looking like abstract paintings of dots and blobs they are actually the record of bee performance,

every year when the bees first leave the hive they perform a ‘cleansing flight’ when they excrete, preferably on clean white surfaces. In this casethey have obligingly decorated Weber’s canvases.

In the little video I have posted here the Bee Paintings can be seen behind the Large Dark Wind Chime (Arab Tritone). What would usually be a small garden ornament, cheerfully making audible the natural force of the wind, is here a gigantic object set in motion by electirc fans and tuned to the “devils music” or the “tritone”. Click on the video clip to hear it.

The video starts with Weber’s massive “windscreen wipers” constantly clearing away the artificial rain that pours down the inside of the gallery window.