Stefan Baumkötter + Rudolf de Crignis, Bartha Contemporary, London, United Kingdom

Rudolf de Crignis, Painting #95029, 1995
Oil on canvas
32 x 32 inches

January 16 – March 26, 2011

Bartha Contemporary is proud to announce the forthcoming exhibition of works by Stephan Baumkötter (DE, 1958 – ) + Rudolf de Crignis (CH / USA, 1948 – 2006). The exhibition will feature selected paintings and works on paper, demonstrating the distinct characteristics of these exceptional artists and their significant contribution to contemporary painting.

Over the past four decades, abstract painting has often been categorized as Minimalist, Non-objective, in some cases as Colour-field, Radical or simply Monochromatic. Despite the fact that the works of de Crignis and Baumkötter have often been exhibited within such contextual frameworks, their practices have always been somewhat outside the realms of these insubstantial terminologies. The purpose of this exhibition is to showcase their unique independent careers and to explore the similarities of their working practices, which resulted in distinctly dissimilar works.

The artists were life-long friends, sharing an admiration for each other’s work, signified by an approach and process that has more in common with the act of performance-art of the early sixties rather than the singular methodology of painting. At the heart of this practice, exceptional care and detail and attention are given to the conception of a work, signified by each artist’s choice of materials and methods.

De Crignis’s process begins with a carefully prepared canvas, onto which the artist applied layer upon layer of paint, using a variety of brushes, alternating the brushstroke direction for each layer from horizontal to vertical, either by changing the direction of the brushstroke or by physically turning the canvas. Often changing colour from layer to layer, de Crignis built up dense colour-spaces, which at first appear monochrome. These seemingly infinite colour-spaces are concerned with light, space and colour. The work, the light, and finally the viewer’s perception come together to form the total experience of these works. As de Crignis wrote, “Experience makes them.”

Baumkötter on the other hand applies paint in a far more direct and seemingly less restrained manner. Oil-sticks are rubbed, rolled or pushed onto canvas, leaving undeterminable marks, which the artist blends into fields of colour. The surface of each work is slowly built up by repetitively applying multiple colours. This very physical and direct process deposits large amounts of pigments in an almost brutally uncompromising manner. By smudging each colour into the next the artist builds rather than paints densely layered canvases. Its Baumkötter’s unique ability to create subtle and often intriguingly undeterminable colour areas within what at first appear as uniformly monochrome paintings. Their delicate appearance stands in stark contrast to the concealed painting process.

Depending on changing day-light conditions, Baumkötter’s as well as de Crignis’s works dramatically change their appearance as different colours within the works surfaces appear to shift in and out of the viewer’s perception.