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Wunderkammer IX in occasion of the exhibition "Graphein" 18 January -15 March 2019

Wolfgang Seierl
Works on paper using autographic poems by Julian Schutting

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The idea of developing and elaborating autographs in pictorial form was suggested by the collector Gerhard Hartmann (Lindau). I therefore asked the poet Julian Schutting for manuscripts, because in my capacity as a composer I had put some of his texts to music some years previously. I was therefore already familiar with his thought processes.
The poetry jottings provided by  Schutting for this project were written down on different types of paper, such as envelopes or cardboard, and in terms both of content and visual appearance provided a good basis for pictorial dialogue. Everything had a significance: the colour and form of the paper (in some cases torn or cut), the addresses and mail stamps, the handwriting (in blue ink), and not least the moving content of the texts.
I gave free rein to my imagination, responding to the written word with pieces of paper glued above and below the writing, with additional words and drawings, and with overpainting. I attempted in my work not so much to impose my own world on Schutting’s original sheets but to visualise the inner reality of the poet’s thoughts and to construct a framework for them. The resultant dialogue had a light and playful air. The rereading of the texts gave new stimulus to my pictorial interpretation, but it also left much unstated, which in no way distracts from the end result but rather puts the state of suspension into focus. (Wolfgang Seierl, 2019)

Ein paar Sätze zu dem, was ich für Wolfgang Seierl in der Annahme, er würde dies und das in seine Blätter integrieren, auf Packpapier, auf die Hinterseite von Briefkuverts etcetera flott hingeschrieben habe - hatte also nicht damit gerechnet, daß das alles in schwer leserlicher Handschrift transkripiert mitpubliziert würde.
gehalten habe ich mich an zu dieser Novemberzeit 2017 Skizziertes, zum Beispiel an meine jüngsten Verfremdungen berühmter Hölderlin-Gedichte („Hälfte des Lebens“, „Hyperions-Schicksalslied“), an meine Aneignung von August von Platens „Wer die Schönheit ...“, an meine Verschärfungen der von Schubert in seiner „Winterreise“ hinangehobenen Gedichte von Wilhelm Müller. habe aber auch, ohne viel zu überlegen, mir in diesen Tagen durch den Kopf gegangenes vor mich hin improvisiert:
halbzeilenweise wie Schriftproben in Graphiken aufgenommen, würde das schon taugen ... an die nicht von mir festgelegte Abfolge dieser Druckschrift-Gebilde hab ich allein schon deshalb nicht gerührt, weil mir so Belangloses, wie was mir als erstes, als zweites ... hinzuschreiben eingefallen ist, schon nach diesen fünf, sechs damit verbrachten Stunden entfallen war. (Julian Schutting)

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Graphein text=art through seven centuries

Visual Poetry

Opening: 7 p.m., Tuesday, 16 October


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16 Oct. 2018 -15 March 2019

As a dual talent proficient at both writing and drawing, Victor Hugo wrote in one of his travelogues in 1839: “The hieroglyph is the essential root of the written character. All letters began as signs, and all signs began as images. Human society, the world, and the whole of humankind is to be found in the alphabet.”

The current exhibition at Galerie Hochdruck looks at the interaction between writing and visual art, from individual letters as abstract signs or symbols to texts that take the form of pictures. The focus will be on the twentieth century, in which the exponential growth of graphic printing, particularly in commercial art, produced a colourful array of new typographical ideas, in some cases with a fluid transition from writing to image and back again, but also demonstrating the fine balance between artistic effect and popular impact.

In that context, the exhibition will show commercial art designs by artists for posters, book and newspaper covers as well as outstanding graphic solutions for advertising made by professional designers. The third component is pure graphic art using classic printing techniques - woodcut, etching, lithography and silkscreen - in which calligraphic or typographical or textual elements in all possible combinations contribute to the formal structure and impact. Art books represent a stand-out group of particular interest. One notable example in this regard is the book La fin du monde filmée par l’Ange N.-D. by Fernand Léger, published in 1919 and based on a text by Blaise Cendrars, with text collages printed by hand using stencils and inspired by illuminated signs and the new medium of film. The stencil technique has been recently rediscovered by graffiti artists all over the world. Other themes in the exhibition include notation, musical or otherwise, and abstract signs that imitate the structure of writing, often in the intermediate area between instructions for use - as in graphic notation - and pure artistic expression - as in Keith Haring’s sign language. The exhibition also includes examples of visual or concrete poetry, a genre that forms an interface between literature and visual art.

One of the fascinating features of the exhibition is the possibility of comparing new and familiar letter art with examples of text-based intermedia art from the fifteenth to nineteenth century. It gives an idea of the wealth of material in this area, from illuminated Renaissance books and richly ornamented Persian poetry manuscripts to labyrinthine Baroque calligraphy, early nineteenth-century Japanese Surimono and African liturgical manuscripts, using graphic characters that have long disappeared—also going beyond the more recent avant-garde ideas with which typography at least is usually associated today.

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