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"ZENTRALFORMEN" OF ROBERT SCHABERL
Over the past few years Robert Schaberl has developed
a series of paintings which are entiteled Zentralformen.
These monochromatic pictures adress themselves directly
to the nature of painting as a material practice,
whilst avoiding the pitfalls of a reductive "minimalist"
discourse. Rather than using this medium to create
illusory space, Schaberl has opted to investigate
the relationship that develops through the interaction
of painting, light and viewer.
Whilst much contemporary painting finds itself in
crisis, the rigorously condensed format of these
works opens a rich realm of visual speculation.
They do not refer out to, or represent objects in
the world but, rather address themselves to value.
The material of these paintings is rigorously condensed
so as to focus on their very substance, the hue
and tonality of colour whose modulations are given
value through the agency of light.
The Zentralformen re-assert the authenticity of
painting not as a narrative but as a connotative
form; the dialogue on value embodied in the work
proposes a correlation in other discourses.
The "Central Forms" are intended to appeal
at first to sensual perception. The viewer will
be captivated by the iridescent concentration of
light on the shiny surface of the picture. Once
he or she approaches the surface this impression
changes. What the viewer believed he/she saw is
no longer tangible up close, since it becomes dissolved
in color mass, scratches and reflections. From a
distance what one sees is a color surface where
light is concentrated in the center, resulting in
a non-distinct, color-spatial situation.
The picture prompts the viewer to keep moving so
as to be able to get as much information as possible
from its' surface, the material and how light reflects
off of it. He/she feels tempted to touch the surface,
which reveals a diversity of materials but does
not immediately suggest oil paint.
The light beams point to the center of the picture
and trigger the impression of strictly concentrical
circles. At this point, however, the sensual impression
misleads the viewer. What appears to be a circle
is, in reality, an oval. The center of the imagined
circular form does not lie in the geometric center
but outside of it – in the visual center.
In the "Central Forms" series, I am interested
in tracing this visual center which is dependent
on the color tone. When I speak of tracing, I mean
that this visual center is not be constructed but
is rather something that reemerges from the given
composition of the picture. The American artist
Agnes Martin puts it very succinctly in one of her
texts: "We make art work as something that
we have to do not knowing how it will work. When
it is finished we have to see if it is effective....
Composition is an absolute mystery. It is dictated
by mind. The artist searches for certain sounds
or lines that are acceptable to the mind and finally
an arrangement of them is acceptable... Composition
and acceptance by mind are essential to artwork."
When the color palette approximated black, the question
arose as to what "black" really is. In
the process of working it became clear that the
appearance of the pure color mass black (two different
black pigments mixed together) was lighter than
the color nuance resulting from the application
of blue over black. This resulted in the fine nuancing
of color tones in terms of their "brightness".
The paintings were presented parallel to one another
to make their contrasts visible. In more recent
oil paintings I concentrate on strong colors and
a polarity of the inside color field and the outside
areas and the tension that arises in between.
All this research and the urge to brighten the colors
finalised in using another new color-medium which
allows me to build up coats of color 50-70 layers
thick: It is a new series of paintings executed
in acrylic paint on primed linen or unprimed raw
canvas. The use of interfering medium pigments in
combination with numerous thin transparent layers
of acrylic color allow the paintings to completely
change their colors, depending on whether one views
the surface in the or against the direction of light.
The paintings are highly sensitive to light changes
and almost look like colored mirrors. The color
field in between the center and the outside circle
appears to be a colored lake or even has a certain
thickness akin to plexiglass. I see my paintings
as objects in space, objects without a clear color-definition:
a painting is more than one painting because viewed
from different angles it appears in a totally different