February 26 till April 10, 2010

The French critic, poet and artist Zacharie Astruc passionately sought to revive the traditional art of tableau. Complex history paintings with a strictly defined storytelling structure, Astrac hoped to free them from the conventions of the linear narrative, dramatic coherence and the various formal devices associated with the genre. He called for a return to the immediacy of painting, simultaneity of representation and other pre-imposed conventions that forced a successive, prescribed reading of art. To counter these inflexible, schematic narratives, the salon master emphasized a lightness of gaze and the immediate, phenomenological encounter of viewer and painting.

For his second solo exhibition at Galerie Clages, Bernhard Walter will be showing tableaus with a similar call for directness: three pictorial structures made of painted wooden beams arranged in geometric forms, slightly askew. Seen en face, the white structure just barely lifts out of the underpainting; only vaguely colored shadows make the shining white lines appear lit from behind. Just one step to the side and you see why: the slats are colored on the inside, so the tableau forms crystallize according to where the viewer is standing in relation to the object.

The various colors used in these interior surfaces create light and shadow effects, shedding the construction of its two-dimensionality. A closer look reveals that the forms are only somewhat geometrical; not all are completely vertical, some corners dance out of row, and what at first glance looks like a strict superimposition of form is obscured by joining lines.

Bernhard Walter’s “Climbing Boards” also unfolds as a vivid, direct dialogue. The sawed apart, untreated boards are reassembled in a new composition and left to nestle in the corners of the room. Here the form also changes according to where you are standing, creating a new pictorial experience with every new perspective. They merge to form new, three-dimensional objects, a dynamic emerging from this interaction with the viewer as they move around the room, seeing the change in appearance. Unlike the traditional, predetermined image, this one does not dictate a single path but many – the unfolding of the piece lies entirely in the viewer’s hands.