Sunday, 12 July 2009

Matthias Weischer

Ecke 2005
Oil on Canvas 40 x 30cm
51st Biennale, Venice
1st November 2005

Despite his work being in the Saatchi collection and at Frieze 2004, I had never seen it in either print or at an exhibition before. This is a man who is obsessed with interior space. Almost every painting shown was an interior, all sparsely furnished and unoccupied. In fact I cannot even remember a door or window and the overall effect was of very claustrophobic spaces. I felt they were almost a mental space rather than an actual space - probably because there were limited details to associate with.

My favourite was this simple painting of just a corner. It is typical of the work shown, exploring space through the construction and deconstruction of an imagined interior by building up layers of paint at the same time as creating overlapping perspectives. The paint is so thick that it overhangs the edge of the canvas (see below) making the image almost a sculpture. Then having created the space and depth within the picture, with the thickly painted surface he reminds us of the flatness of the painting by covering areas with fine speckles or drips of paint.

In all of his interior views there is an all-prevailing absence of a utopia, they are sites that seem to have no relation with the real space of Society. However, nor are they sites of voyeurism like the sets of television reality programmes such as Big Brother. These are fundamentally unreal spaces, offering nothing to distract the occupants from their own existence or let them forget their own life. We are given no clues as to the function of the rooms and without windows and doors it is as if the outside world doesn’t exist.

The other interesting aspect of these spaces is the difficulty one has assigning a date or a period to them. Devoid of meaningful visual clues, even when a sparse piece of furniture or decoration is included, we are thrown back on regarding the walls as intersecting colour planes. For me this reinforces the notion that these rooms are psychological rather than physical spaces. Without a connection with time or reality they become somewhere to mentally retreat to, and be alone for reflection and contemplation.

©blackdog 2009


  1. I wonder why you have chosen just this painting, it is very minimalistic in comparisom with other interieur-paintings by MW where we can discover some things and walk with our eyes through strange- cool rooms! I agree this painting - together with the title word "Ecke"- may evoke different reflections and feelings: some mysterious one- we have to go round in order to see the still unknown corner (but never fairy-tale-like) , hidden and forbidden 'things', lost, thrown-away 'things', being outsider (s.o. in die Ecke stellen, drängen = push into the background; in der Ecke stehen, in former times usual in schoolclasses, Eckensteher = good-for-nothing, poor people), a kind of retreat (sich in eine Ecke verkriechen = crawl into a corner, to be for his/her own filled with a sad- melancholic mood ) or - perhaps- murder (s.o. um die Ecke bringen= bump s.o. off)- the red paint and the damaged spots signalise blood and crime in my (overdriven) imagination, and there is a big blob looking bloody, also a bloody- red line on the 'ground' along the wall- the alarm bells are ringing in my ears and I could imagine a bad deed/happening! It remains hidden.
    Another association: The red walls look like cardboards made from paper, and I think of the streetpeople, often children who live and sleep in the corners of houses, metro-stations... in/on/between such boards, people who are outsiders living at the edges of the society, pushed into the corners! First I innerly refused to deal with this painting, but the more I look at it, the more moving I find it- thanks to your very good general interpretation that may reinforce my understanding for such kind of painting! I just read in a German newspaper that MW now (2009) is ready to leave his corners, "to open his doors" and to go into the open air in order to change his style and to get a distance to the "Leipziger Schule"!

  2. Why pick this one - three reasons. Firstly I like to review ones that I have actually seen, secondly it was the most melancholic of those on show in Venice, and finally it is a good example of his use of paint as material. It probably isn't clear from the reviews but my main area of interest is how different artists use the painterly mark to emphasise the underlying melancholia in the work.

    Your imagination certainly does run riot! I made no bloody connections at all, but saw the line on the floor as an institutional reference. For me the space was more about "around the corner", than "in the corner", but it is interesting to read the German associations with corner. Who knows what was in Herr Weischer' mind.

    Yes I too read his association with our Mr Hockney!!! Bizarre. Very interesting to see what the outcome is, especially as he is one of the star Leipzig graduates.