Books and Boxes
January 19 – March 2, 2019
Nino Mier Gallery is pleased to present Cologne-based artist Thomas Wachholz’s second solo exhibition with the gallery opening Saturday, July 20th at 7313 Santa Monica Avenue in West Hollywood, titled “Books and Boxes”. An opening reception will be held on July 20th from 6:00 – 8:00 pm.
Structured through opaque color fields, iconic symbols like stars, clouds and grids contoured by geometric outlines, the paintings of German artist Thomas Wachholz create a dense visual net of formal traces and personal memories. Exploring the hidden dimensions of everyday materials, Wachholz’s new works appropriate the formal layouts of matchboxes and matchbooks. Gathered over years in places like hotels, restaurants, gas stations, cinemas, clubs or companies, the mostly colorful designed boxes shift the artist’s perception to an object tied to specific places of our former past.
While the concrete physique and 3-dimensional construction of the box is lost in the transfer process of painting, the hidden abstraction found by Wachholz within their imprinted imagery and graphics becomes magnified. An evolution in which the former layouts advance into colorful combinations that emerge through the elimination of visual information. Here, the freed forms populate the canvases almost endlessly and adjust the combinations through their oversized shapes. The latter capture our view and invite us to explore their colorful dynamics, just enough to interact with each canvas in the series.
Accompanying the painted boxes’ layouts, Wachholz’s set-ups take ownership of the striking surfaces as actual ignitors that not only recall his former investigations of alchemistic practices, which involved fire to initiate reactions, but also symbolize the potential to truly activate the paintings. Endlessly expendable like the patterns in Blinky Palermo’s iconic “Flipper” paintings, their different styles applied in red phosphorus offer restrictions and yet a visual freedom that reconnects Wachholz’s compositions to the conceptual approaches in late 1960’s abstract painting investigated by US artists such as Allan D’Arcangelo, Kenneth Noland or Europeans like Daan van Golden.
Unfolding their visual narration in this conceptual process on the canvas like a matchbook, the resulting paintings set up new rules on their own and reveal the matchboxes and matchbooks as triggers of the past moments and places we first encountered them. It’s here, where Wachholz happily engages with the realms of abstraction using the freeness of the isolated figures and shapes to let them take on a new life fired by our memories and guided by their different art historical sources as well as their prior functional heritage. Just like catching a glimpse through the looking glass, the abstract forms allow us a glance at their world of multiplied meanings and shift according to the emotions and experiences we are invited to connect to their structures and shapes. Through Wachholz, we can see beyond them and discover ourselves activating our personal recollections of symbols twisted and flipped over by abstraction.
Comparable to the visual information on several hundreds of matchboxes in his collections one sees spread out on a table in Wachholz’ studio, his paintings intertwine the formal references dating from different decades and sources to transcend their status of mere objects. Painting and the myriad possibilities offered by abstraction, become a tool for Wachholz to free the found images from their objecthood and release the compositions inherited in their inner architecture to visualize both the temporal circuit in which our system of references works and the compositional potential of images hidden unnoticed in our everyday objects. The resulting works reveal the ironic connections of art and composition, layout and symbol, form and function. Like the one single matchbox we spy out that winks at us with one eye, Wachholz asks us not to take him too seriously and proposes paintings that laugh both with and at the same time at their ironic twits.
Thomas Wachholz was born in Germany in 1984. He studied under Katharina Grosse and Marcel Odenbach at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Germany. His solo exhibitions include ‘Whiteout’, Nymphius Projekte, Berlin (2015); ‘Alcohol Works’, Roberts & Tilton, Los Angeles (2014); ‘Reibflache’, Raebervon Stenglin, Zurich (2014); and ‘Alkoholarbeiten’, An der Shanz 1A, Cologne (2013). In 2014 his work was featured in the group exhibitions: ‘Not Abstraction’, Yves Klein Archive, Paris; ‘Backward/Forward’, New Galerie, Paris; ‘daseinsamegenie…’, Baustelle Schaustelle, Essen; ‘On & On & On’, kunstgruppe, Cologne; ‘Shortcuts, Videos in Art’, Chu Galerie, Cologne; and Rundgang der Staatlichen Kunstakademie, Düsseldorf. He lives and works in Cologne.