Rules and the reduction of variables dictate Wachholz’s practice, driven by a profound fascination for supposedly monotonous activities, marked by the endless repetition of reiterative movements. The exhibition, evolving throughout its six-week duration, begins with unmarked panels covered with a custom-blended red phosphorous paint–Wachholz’s own chemical recipe. The panels are arranged in a horizontal line, mimicking the form of the red phosphorous strip on matchboxes. Half of the panels are monochromatic, as seen on American matchboxes and half are made up of the honeycomb pattern seen on European matchboxes.
“Enter at your own risk” reads a sign on the door of MIER Gallery. For tonight’s West Hollywood attendees it’s an unexpectedly ominous welcome. But considering the box of matches that are offered upon entry, it’s only fair. MIER Gallery, owned by Nino Mier, is currently hosting the work of Cologne-based artist Thomas Wachholz. His show “Strike Gently” is an installation of two long wood panels, each painted with the artist’s own recipe of flammable red phosphorous paint.
There isn’t much to look at in German artist Thomas Wachholz’s exhibition at Mier gallery. Opposite walls of the narrow gallery are lined with rectangular panels. On the right row, they are painted in a pattern of tiny red dots; on the left, in a solid rusty red. The Cologne, Germany, artist didn’t create this imagery; his viewers did. The red paint isn’t really paint, but Wachholz’s own formulation of the phosphorous coating found on the edges of matchboxes. Upon entering the exhibition, titled “Strike Gently,” each viewer receives a box of matches, which they can light by striking against the panels.