Kappa Nöun_Via Imelde Lambertini, 5. 40068 San Lazzaro di Savena (BO)
January 13th 2023/March 11th 2023
Gerold Miller‘s works are not meant to recall the period of European geometric abstraction, they originate from the Conceptual Art of the 60s which essentially reflected on what art is and on which tools it is based. This artistic movement chiefly considered the aspect of the idea, of a project, and not the actual process of making the artwork.
Besides, there have been many attempts to erase any form of pleasantness, of color, from the art, and hence precluding any compromise with the idea of “beauty”.
Early on in 1991, Gerold Miller began to combine the fundamental question of Conceptual Art, “what is art”, with a clear vision that it was necessary to take further steps, to realize artworks, paintings or sculptures which incorporate this meaning and simultaneously have an unquestionable form and quality.
In order to do that, he set out to investigate for instance the relationship between frame, artwork and the environment; he allowed the walls, on which his pieces are mounted, to “enter” his works. His abstraction is, however, an indicator of what reality and destiny are, in which a painting or a sculpture must find a purpose. Consequently, Miller worked on the boundary between the concept and the frame, between the bidimensional artwork and the sculpture, between the sculpture and the surroundings. An aesthetic operation that is always extremely rigorous, because based on this precision and quality, the entire German artist’s poetic develops.
It is also clear that his artworks require a careful and attentive spectator who addresses his work by participative means and with an analytical eye. In any case, the shapes are essential and are realized as rational and well thought through forms, certainly his geometries composed of overlaps, lines and angular cuts are supported by color for their own proposition to the public. Favoring color over shape was surely a way out and the amplification of an artistic concept that made rigor its unavoidable characteristic. It still remains extraordinary how through his 30 years of progress, Gerold Miller has always been able to maintain an analytical line which has been supported by his search for new possibilities and new paths.
Particularly his sculptures and paintings made of aluminum, lacquer and enamel are polished and bright. They have the patina of the contemporary world, the gloss of a technological product and the smooth and pleasant design of synthetic materials.
They contain an idea of the future. They are fascinating objects, emanating from the aesthetic pleasure of Conceptualism and historical Minimalism, they pick up on their cultural background but lead it back to the desires of art that has the courage to return to beauty. And the relationship between shape and color is a process that belongs precisely there.
Abstract or concrete? Here, too, Miller‘s works tend to give a positive answer in both respects. Not one or the other, but both. Painting or sculpture? Again, the answer is twofold. Though actually, the artist strives to overcome these oppositions, he points to the boundaries, those areas in which neither one nor the other is triumphant, where there is a line that separates and simultaneously unites. The concept of a boundary itself must be subjected to further investigation as it can be a connection that evokes proximity and not only distance. We all remember Wim Wender’s movie from 1967, “Kings of the Road” (Im Lauf der Zeit) which plays at the border between both German states which were then divided between the West and communist countries.
What appears is not always true, perhaps because what we see does not coincide with what we know. Miller‘s works establish an open relationship with reality that is uncertain, appearing as definite and final but in which there are often elements of uncertainty, of doubt. Spatial relationships are sometimes marked by the full/empty play, in others, there is a hint of virtuality that opens up the possibility of illusion. After all, perspective itself, called by Alberti a “legitimate construction,” has a truth of its own in being something artificial. In fact, it is always about the illusion since there is an indeterminate space within a two-dimensional canvas. Then, we understand how the German artist’s poetics and rigor are nevertheless situated within the art history, they are an epitome of it that on the one hand takes on views of certain schools of art and thinking of the 20th century, and on the other hand looks much further back: towards the potential of the arts and painting to give life to a scenic space. Then, his painting-objects have complex characteristics precisely because they set out to investigate shifting boundaries that have never before been traced.
The multidirectionality that he achieves with minimal tools surely indicates an extraordinary knowledge of issues related to the space of representation and the history of the invention of the painting as art historian Victor Stoichita has defined it. Not only the color contrast but also the lacquer overlays, reminiscent of painterly glazes, provide sufficient clue in addition to the extension of orthogonal lines and bisectors. They seem to enact the analytics of perspective construction, its transformation into its component elements: they are the hyperbole of a secret geometry.
These interpretive coordinates are also evident in his sculptures. The title Verstärker (amplifier, repeater) certainly derives from their verticality as they are open structures indicating the directions of three-dimensionality, height, length and depth. The minimalism is unimpeachable and clear, in this series made of black granite the material itself tends to disappear, to become one with the form. The granite reflects the environment hardly to a lesser extent than those made of metal, leaving the effect of a sculpture that not only sits in space but in a sense absorbs it into itself. This is why they are “amplifiers” because the environment they are placed is enhanced by the surfaces of the sculptures, everything is brought back to the three basic directions.
Here, like with the wall works, Miller knows how to find the right visual key to offer a new spatial dimension to a sculpture made minimal in its analytical reading. The fundamentals of perspective and plastic vision are absorbed by the works, they become exemplary while still remaining themselves. Conceptualism becomes a work, without forsaking any analytical-rational form. That is why it is important that his exhibitions include the two fundamental types of works because the vision is doubled, the environment is made a participant and protagonist through the works that make it unique, new, and absorb it.
Once again it is the artist’s intelligence to determine new spatial relationships, to explore the uncertain boundaries between the frame and the environment, to make the audience the protagonist of an aesthetic, physical, perceptual experience that is not figural, but abstract. The Sublime is always and only now. Because it can be experienced exclusively in the presence of the work of art, as Barnett Newman said/wrote in 1947.
This post is also available in: Italian