Stefan Wissel @ ITALIC, Berlin

Stefan Wissel – Prenez bien soin de vous, molécules!
15 September – 24 November 2018
ITALIC, Leipziger Str. 61, 10117 Berlin

Stefan Wissel’s sculptural and installative works are usually oscillating between the polarity of reduced formal language and conceptual narrativity charged with humor as well as melancholy. It reecontextualises the minimalist, and in part object-like, sculptural elements, which always openly carry the character of their industrial production, and brings them to a new meaning. Aesthetically, a concise pictorial narrative is thus conveyed in the tension between what is concretely, materially tangible in the space and the abstract artistic idea mostly hinted at by the title.

Prenez bien soin de vous, molécules! (in English: Take good care of yourselves, molecules!) does not only refer to the exhibition of Wissel at ITALIC but also to his new work which has been tailored to the specific room. For this purpose, Wissel starts by stacking up 70 rough-cut wooden planks, which are usually used in constructional or civil engineering, to stack a 300 cm long, 108 cm wide and approximately 85 cm high cuboid. Slightly elevated from the ground, it rests on squared lumber and thin, transverse slats allow its individual layers to appear separate from one another. This creates a delicate, graphic and parallel structure which counteracts the voluminous massiveness of the cuboid. In addition, the minimal and constructive nature of the regular geometric body is disrupted by the presence of a fragment of a terracotta planter. It once depicted the concrete shape of a cat whose hollow body was left open upwards in order to leave space for planting. Now all that is left from this obviously found fragment is the front part of the torso with the head and front paws. Positioned on the right outer edge of the upper side of the cuboid the objet trouvé transforms into the ironic hero of the work on its new stage. A moving head mounted under the ceiling lets a beam of light, carefully choreographed, roam around the room and thereby repeatedly accentuates the presence of the seemingly standing cat figure, which thereby appears almost human. Depending on lighting conditions and time of day the viewer perceives the theatrically placed light in a more or less intensive and manipulative way. This emphasises the temporality within Wissel’s work and generates a kind of speculative narration in connection with the collision of the two opposing sculptural elements. Reflecting back on the title of the exhibition, this poses the question of who or what is the protagonist of this rather odd spectacle? Is it really the strangely human and yet seemingly lifeless fragmentary image of a cat? Is it maybe the constructive-geometric stage that, consciously quoting the habitus of minimal art, presents the reduced fundamental form as the actual star of the exhibition? Or is it in the end about a different, invisible level at which common art-related terminologies no longer appear to be applicable? Wissel’s plea to the molecules can thus also be understood as an emancipatory imperative to find art in the places where it is least suspected.

Text: Philipp Fürnkäs

Works in the Exhibition:
– Prenez bien soin de vous, molécules!, 2018, Spruce Planks, Ceramics, Moving Head, Interface, 124 x 106 x 300 cm, Installation: dimensions variable

Backstage:
– You’ll really miss Robin Williams, 2018, Aluminium, Powder Coating, Cotton Thread, 43 x 47 x 11 cm, Edition 3 + 1 AP, signed, numbered

Stefan Wissel (b. 1960, Hamburg) lives and works in Düsseldorf.

Fotos: Gunter Lepkowski

https://berlin.italic.de/product/stefan-wissel-prenez-bien-soin-de-vous-molecules
ITALIC, Leipziger Str. 61, 10117 Berlin