© Images Roman März
17 SEPTEMBER – 25 OCTOBER 2015
The Observation of Vision in the Act of Painting: Notes on Matthias Weischer’s New Work
Almost a decade has passed since the painter Matthias Weischer first presented himself in Berlin with a solo show. In the intervening years, he has steadily expanded his vocabulary; among his sources of inspiration have been experiments with various graphic techniques and almost sculptural “pulp paintings.” One signal development has been his creation of a distinctive individual language for landscapes.
These endeavors have enhanced his awareness of the versatility of his painterly means, as is evident in the elaborately constructed interiors that have earned him international renown as one of the most interesting painters of his generation. Models of spaces that are as alluring as they are enigmatic, they first appear to show domestic settings that exude a peculiar atmosphere but then turn out to be sophisticated montages of lines, surfaces, and patterns. The interior, a traditional genre, is energized by the tension between representational art and abstraction. Meanwhile, the demarcations that conventionally define a space are subject to imperceptible displacements or dissolve altogether; the beholder may occasionally feel like the ground is shifting to reveal a trapdoor opening up beneath his or her feet. Or as the artist himself put it on one occasion, “every object masks the infinity of space, and can only be seen in relation to it.
”At the same time, his pictures are discourses on painting. Matthias Weischer engages the repertoire of art history in a highly reflective dialogue, and his most recent work, “Versole” 2015, demonstrates his mastery of the play with pictures within the picture. The strands of Western art intersect in a vaguely theatrical mise-en-scène: the cultural quotations we espy include an ancient bust; a truncated medieval Madonna; a sheet of paper bearing a watercolor drawing of an Etruscan horse; an ornament that brings leaded windows to mind; a pink blossoming flower and a purple vase; a green jug reminiscent of Matisse’s paper cut-outs; a carpet design in the style of the 1950s; and a sturdy wood slat that seems designed to preserve the interior’s balance and distantly recalls Jasper Johns’s work. The black rectangle is easy to decode—it is presumably a reference to Malevich. In Weischer’s art, however, the black expanse dappled with colorful speckles is not an endpoint; it is a springboard from which he leaps into the painting of the present moment.
This aggregate of fragments, assembled with a keen sense of form, no longer coalesces into a unified whole. And yet a peculiar intuitive order gradually emerges, resembling, perhaps, the logic of a dream in which everything seems to be in its place. No air of melancholy surrounds this artificial and arranged nature morte: the process of painterly dissection, far from draining the vitality of the individual components, has actually filled them with a strange second life.One source of this animation is the painting’s tactile quality. In the age of the touch screen and its standardization of physical contact, Weischer’s art, though highly reflective, is invested in what the sense of vision can comprehend and grasp. Combining sensuality with calculated composition, his canvases are models of perception. The artist takes us along on his tour d’horizon, inviting us to observe the work of seeing in the act of painting, to step into the reality of the pictures. In his own words: “We can contemplate the process of seeing; we can observe ourselves as we blaze a trail toward an understanding of this new reality.”