16 March – 14 April 2013

Salon Dahlmann is proud to present the exhibition ‘Robert Lucander: The Walls 5.0’. The exhibition focusses on the Finnish artist’s early, abstract works dating from the period 1992 to 1997, most of which have never gone on display in Berlin before.

Curated by Katharina Schlüter

Robert Lucander (born 1962, Helsinki) studied in Berlin at the Hochschule der Künste from 1989 to 1995 and was largely preoccupied during this phase of his career with an intense critical study of the Constructivist school of painting as exemplified by Kazimir Malevich or Piet Mondrian. His study of these artists and the stances they adopted between figuration and abstraction proved particularly fruitful for Lucander in the development of his own style. He experimented with colours and techniques on new painting supports and revealed his inspiration by such artists as Blinky Palermo and Gerhard Richter, who had broken new ground from the 1960s in broadening the modern language of forms. For Lucander, this period of creativity was one of painterly experimentation. Sometimes Lucander would pour the paint onto the support using a watering can, on other occasions he would leave scored and scratched lines in the geometrically arranged colour fields of his composition. He soon discovered his favoured choice of medium: industrial paints, often glossy acrylic paints, standardized in the RAL and TGL colour classification systems and produced in Western and Eastern Europe. He started using wood panels and sheet metal as supports and had them cut into standardized ISO A formats. What interested Lucander about these materials and forms was their industrial, pre-fabricated nature—a characteristic which he subsequently ruptured in his works by allowing chance to influence certain stages of his work process, while simultaneously questioning and breaking with the self-imposed norms.

Inspired by Blinky Palermo’s work, Straight, dating from 1965, Lucander made a series of works that included das gab es früher schon (1993) and geraderaus (1993), in which he poured on the lines of paint and presented the works by leaning them against the wall, deliberately unhung. Lucander used paints produced in both Western and Eastern Europe, in a reflection of the historical context of the years immediately following the collapse of communism. The long-divided city of Berlin had a decisive influence on the artist and this is evident in his continuing fascination in duplications and reflections in his paintings’ subjects.

At the same time Lucander emphasized his conceptual stance towards painting by altering the manner of presentation according to the space. Works such as So ist es immer from 1995, a two-part, geometric painting on zinc presented in a corner of the room, illustrate Lucander’s investigation into the relationship between painting and the surrounding space that preoccupied him at this time. Lucander was not interested in painting as the painterly treatment of a surface, rather he used his works to question the conditions and limitations of the medium of painting itself. As a result, he turned some of his canvases into objects, for although he painted their recto, he used the stretcher frames on the verso, complete with traces of paint from the front, as the substrate for the actual work. The theme of colour experimentation also manifested itself in his use of colour scales as a subject for these works.

Two other important points of reference in Robert Lucander’s work are writing and music. Lucander used to be a slow reader. He would grasp the text by seeing the print as a pattern. This form of visual appropriation, indicative of the singular gaze of an artist, is also revealed in the geometric formal language of his earlier works, and explicitly in three of the ‘text pictures’ on display in today’s exhibition. The act of listening to music continues to be of fundamental importance to the artist, who is also interested in the spatial quality of sounds. As a sign of this spatial understanding of sound, he named his 1995-exhibition ‘Stereo’ and dedicated it to the subject of the vinyl record. In 1995 the first works started appearing in which he used abstracted details culled from LP and magazine covers taken from his large personal collection. This has proven fertile ground for Lucander who continues to draw from his collection in his figural works, the first of which dates from 1996. As such, Lucander’s works always act as bridges to the future, through his continuous occupation with such motifs as reflections and duplicates, print and text, and the condensation and abstraction of the image.

Most of all, Robert Lucander’s early works seem astonishingly topical and relevant today, be it due to the site-specific manner of their presentation, the inclusion of historical contexts, or the ‘tendency to the inexact’ in his experimental handling of painterly concepts. It will be interesting to see what significance will be derived from these early works when seen from today’s perspective.

Duration of the exhibition: 16 March – 14 April 2013