Jorinde Volgt: Trust and Rain
August 26 through October 2, 2021
By JONATHAN GOODMAN, September 2021
Mid-career, Berlin-based artist Jorinde Voigt, a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, works primarily in the field of drawing. A highly cultivated person, she studied cello and has read philosophy for a long time. Her work, regularly abstract, has been compared to a musical score; in the beautiful geometric drawings on show in “Trust and Rain,” there are often written notations on the side, covering a range of topics and indicating that, for Voigt, the process of image-making is importantly intellectual in nature. Drawing is a transparent medium, and in the artist’s hands it becomes a way of thinking as well as a visual expression. It can be said that in art abstraction requires, to some degree, abstract consideration, and the Germanic accomplishment in philosophy accompanies this artist’s manner of thinking. That being indicated, Voigt’s art cannot be reduced to an intellectual exercise; she is an image-maker of considerable achievement, pushing forward the long European history of abstract art.
In Trust and Rain in June I (2020-21), Voigt uses gold leaf (a favored material), pastel, oil chalk, and India ink to create an image that, on first glance, seems to connect with the sea. An oval-shaped line, with touches of red on the far edge of either side, contains a massed group of polyp-shaped forms, often also touched with red. Throughout patterns of straight white lines, a kind of downpour of rain, cover the background of the entire piece. This is a more organic work, in contrast with the group of geometric drawings lining the gallery corridor. It might be a jellyfish during a rainstorm, but that reading would force the image into a figurative genre, not something that Voigt does. Instead, the image is suggestive of schema that move beyond the nonobjective, as can happen with such art. The transparency of the drawing, both in its materials and in its gestalt, leaves Voigt’s audience wondering about the ability of abstraction to communicate with several voices, including that of representation.
The suite of smaller, vertically aligned abstract drawings following the length of the gallery hall are notable for their formal cohesion. In Sara’s Question XIII (2020), a group of angular parallelograms, variously colored--reddish orange, green, black, pink, yellow--build a tower of connecting hard-edge forms. This motif is repeated throughout the body of work. The particular image described satisfies the viewer’s need for a nonobjective image to hold its own in a formal sense. There is measure to the drawing--a sense of equal weight given to the part and the whole. As a result, the composition demonstrates a sense of propriety and order, despite the difference of its components and their sides of unequal length. Maybe that’s the key to the artist’s success: a combination of slight disarray that embellishes and animates her overall sense of rightness. In another drawing, titled Referenzialitaet (2020-21), there is a rounded component, colored blue on the top and blue and yellow on the bottom; the rest of the structure is composed of triangles in yellow, gray, blue, and pink. The English translation of the title, as abstract as the visual work itself, is “Referentiality.” The word is likely key to Voigt’s creativity, which describes so well the relations between the parts and the whole.
Voigt is also a sculptor. She has two pieces in the show. Betrachtung/Contemplation (2020), created with thin lines of gold-plated brass, offers two cones in outline, one issuing upward and the other moving toward the floor, that have a shared middle. Within the pyramidal shapes, curving lines of brass animate an otherwise straight-line structure. Somehow, the perfect weight of the forms and their proportions makes one think of architecture: the design of a cathedral. The title, in alignment with the sculpture, indicates the beauty of thought. There is a beautifully rational element to much of Voigt’s art, which distances it from the intuitive, regularly expressionist art we often find here in America. She is a cerebral person with remarkable visual skills. So her work cannot be seen merely as examples of theory. Instead, it is poised in a notable place where what we see and what we think merge. As a result, Voigt’s feeling for form and the ideas she takes interest in occupy a space in which art and meditation influence each other--equally, in a memorable fashion. WM
Jonathan Goodman is a writer in New York who has written for Artcritical, Artery and the Brooklyn Rail among other publications.
view all articles from this author