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April 2010, Sol LeWitt @ Konrad Fischer


Sol LeWitt, Wall Drawing 578, 2010
Courtesy of the artist and Konrad Fischer Galerie

Sol LeWitt: Wall Drawings  
Konrad Fischer Galerie
Lindenstrasse 35
10969 Berlin
26 February through 24 April 2010

The latest exhibition of Sol LeWitt consists of three of the artist’s large wall drawings. The first, Wall Drawing #571A, in its formal execution, calls to mind the horizontal line paintings of Agnes Martin, though her palette is typically more restrained, and thus the overall effect is not nearly as reticent as in a Martin. Contained within a (painted) black frame, five thick equal bands stretch horizontally across the wall, immediately confronting the viewer upon entering the gallery: a yellowish green, a red, a darker green, a purplish blue velvet, and an orange. As per LeWitt’s instructions, each band is rendered in colored ink washes, giving the colors a velvety, textured, tactile appearance to which reproduction does a major disservice.
 
Wall Drawing #576A, surrounded by a bright blue band, seems almost an amplification, in terms of brightness, of the last three colors in #571A. This wasn’t specified in the artist’s instructions, but adds a meditative resonance to the overall composition of the exhibition.  

The final, and largest of the three, Wall Drawing #578, also gives the draftsman the largest degree of freedom; a wall is to be divided into six unequal vertical parts and colored with color ink washes superimposed, but LeWitt does not specify which colors or the size of each section. The colors selected here are a yellow, a blue-green (hinting slightly at the greens seen in the previous two pieces, but this one is more marine), a narrow gray sliver lightly textured like a rocky crag, an orange somewhere between the previous two oranges in tonality, and a green-yellow that resonates with the premiere horizontal stripe in #571A.  


Sol LeWitt, Wall Drawing 571A, 2010
Courtesy of the artist and Konrad Fischer Galerie


Throughout, the colors manage to pull off both a bright and pastel effect simultaneously – a seemingly contradictory feat, but ultimately a rewarding one. I admit to not being a great fan of LeWitt, and conceptual art in general tends to leave me cold, but the soft and warm tones utilized in these paintings make them quite rewarding and harmonious. Again, I can’t help but see Martin’s influence everywhere in this exhibition. She was so often regarded as the master of Minimalist painting, though she herself insisted that her work fit better into the Abstract Expressionist canon. And, minimal in conception though her paintings might be, they still radiate the sort of warmth that you see here – and that is so often absent in LeWitt’s work.  

LeWitt’s wall drawings, of course, consist of instructions that can be painted by anyone, anywhere – from a gallery wall to a dining room. Interestingly enough, a sheet accompanying the exhibition reprints LeWitt’s specific instructions, which are useful for comparing with the results, as well as credits to the draftsmen who originally carried them out (all three stem from 1988, FYI.) Odd, then, that the gallery doesn’t credit whoever drew and painted them for the current exhibition. At least one of the theories of authorship presented by LeWitt’s approach would be that the final work is a collaboration between the conceiver-artist and the draftsman-artist. Here, the Konrad Fischer Gallery assumes the latter role. This has troubling implications, given the fact that it’s a commercial gallery, though the implications would be no less troubling, but in a different way, were it an institution.

 

Sol LeWitt, Wall Drawing 576A, 2010
Courtesy of the artist and Konrad Fischer Galerie



Travis Jeppesen

Travis Jeppesen's novels include The Suiciders, Wolf at the Door, and Victims. He is the recipient of a 2013 Arts Writers grant from Creative Capital/the Warhol Foundation. In 2014, his object-oriented writing was featured in the 2014 Whitney Biennial and in a solo exhibition at Wilkinson Gallery in London. A collection of novellas, All Fall, is forthcoming from Publication Studio. 

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