RESONANZEN: Exihibition of Mary Baumeister and Jakob Mattner

Mary Bauermeister is interested in the day, the substance of prism beams, luminescence. Jakob Mattner, on the other hand, is fascinated by the night, the twilight, the intermediate tones. The cosmic, the macro and microcosm – this is where the key subject matters of these two very different artists meet. Both are interested in the structures created by nature and in questions about the role played by chance – as well s the artist – in designing images and forms.

The starting point for both artists is nature as an educator, nurturer and creator; both focus on vision and the tools and materials associated with vision. Mary Bauermeister does so in a way that is very direct and focused on the object; easels, pencils, lenses, prisms are addressed get alienated in close vision, enlarged images and implemented three-dimensionally in the form of sculptures or reliefs. Jakob Mattner, on the other hand, depicts a sort of distance vision, e.g. in his “camera self-portraits”. Mattner shifts the focus to faraway places, to the moon, the sun, the black hole, the universe – while Mary Bauermeister zooms in even closer on the writing and characters with her round lenses, almost to the point where they are completely
illegible due to the close proximity.

Mary Bauermeister (born in 1934 in Frankfurt and currently lives near Cologne) was one of the formative figures of the avant-garde scene in the Rhineland in the early 1960s. Her studio was a centre for “new
arts”, in music, as well as art and architecture. She teamed up with Karlheinz Stockhausen to create “Originale” (Originals) in Cologne in 1961 and appeared alongside Hans G Helms and Nam June Paik as
“The Painter”. Her first exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and successful shows in the Bonino Gallery in New York starting in 1964 featured the “Malerische Strukturen” (Picturesque Structures) – organic tiers, stratified rocks from which she developed both large and small reliefs. Her line drawings are reminiscent of both musical scores and Dada poetry; words and images become one, small and large lenses accentuate the projection surfaces, which are transformed into boxes, cabinets, even entire rooms. Easels and enormous pencils appear to change shape. The objects retain their own poetic life and the natural world grows like the large substantive images. These are the traces of a life lived to the fullest with their compressions and openings. Meditative music is interwoven with the rigid structures, the free flowing with the natural, large gardens are designed like small drawings as islands of thought.
As she approaches her 80th birthday, Bauermeister is now finally starting to get the attention she deserves in Germany. Even today, you can still sense the undaunted creativity, love of life and vitality generated by a multifocal oeuvre – one that has been recognised and received the appropriate level of museum and gallery time rather late in the game, similar to the experience of Meret Oppenheim or Louise Bourgeois.

Since around 1970, the work of Jakob Mattner (born in 1946 in Lübeck and lives in Berlin) has been continuously exhibited in galleries (Carpenter & Hochman New York), art societies (“In der Mitte ist die Nacht” – In the Centre is the Night – in Münster in 1980 and the Kestner Gesellschaft in Hanover in 1988), the Biennale SITE Santa Fe (1995), museums (“Der Blick in die Sonne” – Gazing at the Sun, Wiesbaden, Bremen and Berlin 2005/6), right up to latest artist lexicon written by Thomas Deecke in 2013.
In his light sculptures, glass panels reflect geometric shadows that take on a three-dimensional appearance on the walls. These “drawings”, which are sometimes as large as the wall itself, emerge from the controlled, but freely progressing processes of pouring and growth – coffee grounds or water.
The flow of forms is stopped, paused in a moment of creation. Associations with landscapes, be it frozen surfaces, sand dunes or reflections of tree groves in the water, still remain almost immaterial and openended.
Jakob Mattner is interested in the oscillation between object and structure, between that which is seen and that which is imagined, that which is designed and that which forms of its own accord (approaching Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge’s work “Der Bildungstrieb der Stoffe” – The Formative Tendency of Substances – which was published in 1855!) The waxing and waning of motion, which is then frozen at a particular moment in time; the mobile, which becomes static; the darkness, which begins to shine – these cosmic moments form the intellectual foundation of the comprehensive oeuvre of Jakob Mattner.

Text: Wulf Herzogenrath
A conversation between Mary Bauermeister and Jakob Mattner will take place on 29 October at 6:30 p.m., moderated by Wulf Herzogenrath, in which they will discuss and scrutinise the ‘resonances’ between the two artists.


14 September 2013 - 12 November 2013
Opening: 13 September 2013, 6 p.m.
Place: 401contemporary, Potsdamer Strasse 81 B, Berlin (Tiergarten)

Ralf Hänsel founded 401contemporary in Berlin in March 2009 with the intention of promoting selected young artists and challenging them to engage in cross-generational dialogue with other artists. The resulting hologram of the past and present is not only meant to inspire young artists; the gallery’s focus also initiates new artistic interpretations and provides important stimuli for all parties involved.
In December 2010, 401contemporary moved from Berlin Mitte to Potsdamer Strasse (Berlin Tiergarten), one of the most energetic artistic and creative areas in Berlin during the 1920s, and today once again an epicentre of the Berlin art scene.