© Images Cheonho Ahn
25 FEBRUARY – 31 MARCH 2022
KÖNIG SEOUL presents a solo exhibition with recent works by Mexico City-based artist Robert Janitz. ELEVEN STUDIES OF EVERYTHING is a series of eleven canvases of uniform scale and one sculpture depicting a shape which resembles a partially dismantled, distorted, and inverted logogram, the & or ampersand, rendered in various spectral permutations.
The ampersand – and per se and – is a special kind of logogram, a bundle of other letters, a conjunction whose substance in language is connective tissue. A corruption of the phrase “& by itself (is the word) and”, an ampersand simultaneously represents the latinate et, this composite glyph once resided inside of the English alphabet, a misfit word / shape / sound whose only relatives were other letters that also occasionally serve as words – I, O, Y, B, Q, C, U, X – especially in the contemporary era where phonetics, codes and acronyms have replaced longhand writing. The paintings in this exhibition each employ the same structure, an inverted ampersand that has come loose of its girdings and floats vaguely in painterly space. A sculpture in metal placed in the center of the gallery as well as Janitz’s very first NFT, SWEET CHERRY CHERRY PINK, further unravel the morpheme, allowing exploration of all perceptible angles.
Janitz’s painting practice has long explored notions of tensegrity – brushstrokes arranged and presented a priori to suggest a kind of taut elasticity – while his new series of works explores the ductility of language and sound. It stands to reason that the ampersand is presented as if seen from behind: Janitz’s paintings have often given the impression of a view from behind the underpainting and support of a picture, thus proposing a painting per se in the most logically intensive sense.
Having turned the attention of his painting project away from solids and towards air, the artist invites a sonic interpretation to these forms – and also the graduated color fields. Since the appendages of a Latin letter share many traits with the assembly of a wind instrument, one can imagine these compositions as sites for deep resonance. The length of a horn’s pipes indicates its pitch, with the longest channels built for the lowest frequencies. As paintings and inert objects, the arrangement of chromatic and sonic allusions share the same field, and can be imagined as similar quantities.
This eternal sign, somewhat of a dislodged ouroboros, serves as a segue from one thought to the next, as the gradient signals the transition from one visual frequency to another. Arranged in a room, this exhibition is to be read from the left to right, clockwise from above, forming something of a mental coriolis effect, an eternally returning phrase whose conclusion is where the viewer stands.
© Text Todd von Ammon