Bernhard Walter | It won’t hurt or kill you
18 April until 26 May 2018
„Things is all out of proportion, ‚Ignatz.'“
„In what way, fool!“
Krazy Kat, George Harriman (1913-1944)
All great love stories start with a brick on the head. Whether you’re the one throwing it or the one on the receiving end, the unavoidable love making that is bound to unfold once the fight is over is what makes the bruises worth enduring.
Considering Bernhard Walter’s (Berlin) latest presentation at Clages Gallery one almost gets the sense of a critical inquiry being told, a kind of a personal visit to a series of fundamental questions through / about / throughout / or even upside down / and inside out of contemporary artistic practices. The ghosts of „objecthood“ and formalism that defined, and in many cases, tormented discourses all the way back to the not so long ago era that killed whatever that thing was we fell in love with and called Painting, are critically confronted through a deeply personal point of view in order to reprise the dialogue that never really ended.
Working across a diverse field of different media Walter’s pieces don’t confine themselves in some sort of heteronomy of the Medium, according to which what the eye can perceive becomes Painting, what the hand desires ends up sculpture, while what the space conquers uncomfortably sits in-between. The works become the end product of a process rather than a strictly introvert entity, that quietly sits in the corner with the back turned to the viewer, making her / his presence obsolete. But for Walter the perceptive stand point of the viewer plays a crucial role, not only as a way of approaching his work, but participating in its completion. Art and Life both find themselves intertwining with one another in the most surprising and unexpected manner.
A mezmerizing constellation of red triangles dripping from the walls of the first exhibition space leads the way to a series of carefully arranged objects, a wooden rectangular base, an open box and a wool piece that found their rightful place both on the walls and the floor of the gallery. Making his / her way upstairs the story comes to an end with a series of wallpieces, all replicating and reproducing the same motive in a variety of colors, materials and textures. The title of the show serving as something much more than just a systemic necessity flows from one room to another, transforming symbols and quotations. The individual takes its final stance against the machine, standing tall and confronting whatever lies outside.
Symbols of Systems long gone but not forgotten are set free from their unbearable context and resurface as an integral part of a personal argument. And that’s perhaps what arises as a constant theme regarding Walter’s work. His ability to find his place both as a clear distinct individual, as well as an inseparable part of a network. It’s not about a bold „I“ that strongly holds the whip and looks down upon you, dictating how to look and what to think. It’s a personal „I“ that looks us straight in the eye; engaging but never demanding.
And at the end of the day, if you just so happen to get hit on the head with a brick, keep in mind, it most definitely won’t hurt or kill you.