"SCHEMEN" | R.J.Kirsch | Hochbunker Körnerstraße | Körnerstraße 101 | 2020

Shadows on the wall
Installation SCHEMEN,
LED, coloured foil, various materials, base, hot-melt adhesive, 5 x 4 m, 2018

Disposal of the night
Some remarks about the installation exhibition Schemen by the Cologne concept artist and painter R.J.Kirsch in the Hochbunker Körnerstraße, Cologne

Whoever leaves the exhibition SCHEMEN by the Cologne artist R.J.Kirsch carries, among other things, a strange afterimage in his memory, as if he had just visited an exhibition with several video installations. In fact, however, these do not actually exist there; instead, the visitor wanders past several wall-sized shadow images. Rolf Kirsch works intensively with shadow projections. Early on, the painter dealt with the relationship between painting and media, seeking ways to escape the dominance and "authority" of technical, electronic and, more recently, digital image media. Early on, he also found an equivalent to painting in the shadow, the formal openness and ambiguity of shadows inviting him to "represent" painting through the staging of shadow images. And Kirsch projects these by means of differently colored LED's, which, due to their punctiformity, enable astonishingly sharp images, some of them directly onto the wall. But no matter how much the virtuality of the images may seduce the viewer, the focus of the installations is always a sculpture, which the artist calls "prop".
Thus, when one enters the exhibition, the path leads, as if pulled by an invisible red thread, in a kind of chronological parcour past various stations that also represent developmental steps in the artist's work. From the first storyboard-like scribbles to the increasingly expansive watercolors and the subsequent sculptures, whose shadows carry the painter's artistic signature into the immaterial space, while at the same time keeping the material origin of the pictures constantly in view.

Granted, Kirsch's artistic position is a hybrid. Anyone who expected a homogeneous work in the classical sense will not get his money's worth here. But in the variety with which one encounters this work, one finds a whole series of references to a "classic", e.g. that of modernism.
First of all, there is his painterly approach, which is indebted to the Informel, or Abstract Expressionism of the 50s and 60s of the 20th century. In his series of watercolors and graphite drawings, he anticipated early on that abstract pictorial space which only becomes reality as a shadow projection in succession. His electro-kinetic approach, the positioning of projection lights and the movement of his sculptures thus refers to the Light-Space Modulator of the Bauhaus artist Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, which he was able to study extensively in Krefeld's Kaiser-Wilhelm-Museum already in his youth. And Brian Eno's legendary exhibition in the Hamburg Markthalle in 1986 gave the painter the decisive impulse to study the possibilities of colored light from then on. His sculptures, which serve only to cast their shadows, appear like a mixture of the junk sculptures of Chamberlain and Tinguely.
The entire work, structured like a film project, divided into scripts, sequences, layouts and "Color-Keys", is then staged as a spatial installation, or should one better say as a spatial illusion: shadow images, projected directly onto the wall following his compositional studies, elevate his painting into the immaterial, without however denying its material background. It is the interplay between illusion and material that builds up the tension of this work.

Rolf Kirsch studied at the Cologne Werkschulen with Dank, Wewerka and Spoerrie, and graduated in painting in 1991 with Prof.Franz Dank. In recent years he has been present mainly through painting series entitled "Rhythm of Statistics", with which he explored the limits of modern technology in crash scenarios. No less determined by the fascination of fragmented contexts of form, his project "SCHEMEN" is now appearing, which will present the Bonn art navigation in a current realization in August/September 2020 in the Cologne high bunker K101. From the relics of broken technology, a panorama emerges in the shadow images of his sculptures, which in gentle twists and turns escapes its shattered origins. These shadow projections are accompanied by a series of drawings and watercolors, which make the background of their creation comprehensible.

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