Vernissage: 14.12.2018, 6 p.m.
curated by: Urszula Tarasiewicz
Luxe, Calme et Volupté
Minimalist art evokes among viewers a sense of distance and a kind of alienation, sometimes even an impression of objectification. Smooth, impeccable structures with a gleaming surface, often on a monumental scale, presuppose a literalism in reception. The semantic layer is typically flimsy, and the audience experiences more sensory perception than psychological depth. The works of the Vienna-based artist Veronica Taussig reveal designs to build an intimate space for perception. The small-scale sculptures force viewers into direct contact. The intense colours trigger psychophysiological impulses. It’s hard to remain indifferent to these works. They offer freshness and a childlike joy in creating, experimenting and seeking. They impishly wink at the viewer.
There aren’t many instances of late blossoming in the history of art. We’ve grown accustomed to tracing an arc of youthful achievement, flourishing, and then decay. In Taussig’s case, she spent years looking after home and children, later designing luxury hotel interiors, and finally after 60 began her adventure with sculpture. Her story is entirely unusual and not congruent with the contemporary image of art.
Contact with the late works of Matisse proved to be the immediate stimulus for Taussig.
Matisse managed to capture all the world’s exuberance and multiple facets in ultra-lapidary means. A pulsing line and the juxtaposition of just a few planes of colour provided insight into the entire chaos of reality. Taussig viewed the forms of his late works, cut from coloured patterns, several years ago in New York. It seemed to her that she could repeat this operation. The logical construction of stickers, the triad of red, blue, and the luminous black of the contour, a radically sparing line—this was a language she would draw from in the future. Her first works are direct quotations. Gradually figuration was replaced by abstraction, but the repertoire of formal means would remain close to the art of the master. Matisse drew with scissors, cutting into colour—as he put it—like a sculpture cutting into stone. Taussig translates this concept directly into sculpture, creating cardboard and XPS foam models for sculptures from aluminium and polymers.
The artist possesses an incredible will to create, and a childlike voracity for action. For her art is an asylum, a moment of grace from an intense perception of the fullness of existence. Ideas come to her in her sleep. These are moments of illumination, peeking under the covers of the world. She dreams of colours and forms, sometimes technical solutions, and sets to work in the morning with a ready concept.
Her repertoire of motifs and forms is broad, ranging from regular and geometrical to organic and biomorphic shapes and complex multilayered structures from paper. If works demarcate the boundaries of the self and define spiritual and cultural identity, in Taussig’s case this is an extensive space. Her work provides faint echoes of Constantin Brâncuși, the Russian Constructivists, Hans Arp, Alexander Calder, and Nicolas Schöffer. Taussig’s sculpture gradually assumes autonomy of shape and sheds direct associations with objects. The works become a concrete, standalone creation, little involved with the appearance of things. Indeed, we are no longer dealing with appearances, but qualities. The artist alludes to the world of things only through distant, flickering associations.
Taussig is hesitant to suggest interpretive clues. She prefers to leave analysis to the viewers. But it is hard to resist the impression that a leitmotif of her work is light. Oval forms are associated with the flecks we see when we stare at light through half-closed eyes. The contrasts of red, black and white allude to afterimages. Even the jocular work Cat Eyes—rows of protruding cats’ eyes on a black plane—is about light. It materializes in the gleam of polished steel and aluminium. The shimmering Man, Figures and Ghost become almost incorporeal creations of brightness.
The rainbow is represented, sometimes literally and elsewhere in the form of colours in prismatic order, inscribed in organic shapes. Colour gradually dematerializes as pigment but does not lose its autonomy. The artist experiments with the vivid neon light of buildings. In Skyscraper, rows of rhythmic circles and squares, alternating between red and yellow, call to mind the Nakagin Capsule Tower by Kisho Kurokawa.
Taussig employs fully saturated, pure primary colours. The elements are separated, not overlapping, and do not interact with one another. The fauvist principle of the autonomy of hues is in force, originating from a design for purification and simplification of means. Colour is often reduced to the fundamental trichromy, as red, yellow and blue clash with the non-colour of black or white.
The experiment in composition of coloured tissue paper goes even further. Colour is broken down into elementary components and then arranged into an optical composite. It becomes subtle, muffled, and tiny fragments of tissue paper form a twinkling, quivering structure with surprising dynamics. It’s an attempt to integrate painting and sculpture and also a paean to the sense of sight.
Matisse dreamed of “an art of balance, of purity and serenity, devoid of troubling or disturbing subject matter, an art which could be for every mental worker … a soothing, calming influence on the mind, something like a good armchair….”
Veronica Taussig’s art is Orphic in spirit. It grows out of peaceful contemplation and joie de vivre. It impacts the viewer through colour, evoking certain emotional states. From an infinite number of expressive possibilities of colour, Taussig manages to select and harmonically juxtapose those most strongly expressing joy and vital force. But Taussig’s works require active involvement from the viewer, a kind of co-creative perception. They supply psychic stimuli for stirring the imagination, sensitivity and feeling—only then do they afford the relaxation of a comfortable armchair.
– Katarzyna Haber