Günther Uecker: Verletzte Felder
Dominique Lévy, London
September 23 - October 29, 2016
Günther Uecker: Verletzte Felder (2016) featured new work by German artist Günther Uecker at Dominique Lévy, London. It was the first solo presentation by Uecker in London in over fifty years. The title Verletzte Felder (Wounded Fields) is derived from a series of six large-scale paintings that debuted at the exhibition. This body of work embodies Uecker’s highly physical approach that explores various articulations of light and shadow. Like many of Uecker’s incisive works, these paintings are eminently ethical, considering themes of human violence, vulnerability, and political responsibility. To create them, Uecker stretched canvas over thick pieces of wood, intuitively painting the surfaces in a highly physical, ritualistic, and visceral manner using thickly applied white paint. Formed on the painted surfaces are undulating patterns of nails (a material the artist has employed since the late 1950s) in differing configurations, some expansive and field-like, and others geometric and orderly. Uecker attacked the surfaces from the front and verso with an axe, creating violent and disruptive gashes in their meditative planes.
Verletzte Felder also included Bäume aus einem Stamm (Trees from One Trunk), a work created between 2009 and 2015 which comprises three tree-like forms all originating from one large wooden trunk. The individual forms are covered in ash and nails, evoking a frequent theme in Uecker’s work: his investigation of the complex relationship between nature and humanity, with an underlying message of healing and resurrection. The materials covering the trunks reference this cycle: in Uecker’s work, the nail, frequently associated with piercing or violence, has the opposite connotations. Here, nails sprouting from the tops of the tree trunks create a new visual dimension, forming ever-changing arrangements of light and shadow. Ash, coating the rough tree bark, simultaneously represents death and evokes the sequence of life—“from dust to dust”—pointing to the possibility of rebirth.