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For a Phenomenological Reading of the Catalogue “The Ways of Exile” by Jörg Christoph Grünert

by Ezio Sciarra


My appreciation for Jörg’s artistic production now condensed in the catalogue of the last exhibition organized at “Ex-Aurum” of Pescara, allows me giving an interpretation perspective, which can be divided into seven parts for the sake of description.


The first itinerary may be identified in the works included in the section “Less is more”, which is developed in the pages 14-20 and then to 27, and with references in pages 38-47, where Jörg represents impressions of the tragedy of our time, consisting of the corruption impressed on human and natural living as violence, alteration, deformation. The user is exposed to a sort of discomfort, which is striking for the expressionist monstrosity of shapes. However, there we feel that the artist is not guided by the aesthetics of forcing emotions, but by his own realistic feeling, which is realistic as it relies on an expressionist language of his education and training in the roots of the German culture. Jörg does not communicate the drama of present time through scientific abstraction, which suggests monstrosity in the deviations of science and technique and reveals schematism of natural consumption concealing itself as a hyper-realistic map of living. On the contrary, the monstrosity that is to be shown is the monstrosity created on living forms by contemporary human violence, a social time of systematic violating alteration producing the deviated excesses of nature.


A second current is developed in pages 28-37 and continues the inspiring message, although as a proposal in relation to criticism. These are constructions made of several different materials in a more abstract-conceptual expressive dimension, represented by installations of simple and raw materials – mainly stone, iron, as well as glass, paper, fabric, felt… – in which artistic operativeness is aimed at showing a minimum action for simple combinations. Jörg shows the explicit message of “Less is more”, as a proposal message for reduction of present technological haughtiness and arrogance, which violate the balances of human and natural living through “mega” constructions and installations. This is an invitation to simplicity, minimality, and humbleness of constructivist action, against the trend towards a hypertrophic and Promethean implementation of a kind of technology that forces all borders, causing the corruption and lacerations presented in the previous current. Therefore, this moves from criticism to proposal in a stylistically interconnected way. It is not by accident that the context within which these simple and minimal installations are placed is the context of expressions of residuality that survived the decadence of imposing installations of the industrial age, almost peripheral signals of the corrosion and dereliction in a large periphery of industrial archaeology, which keeps a slight track of alleged magnificence of a previous age, which has now declined.


- A third centre of phenomenological readings, whose meaning is to be identified, appears from pages 48-49, in which all the messages of the two previous currents are translated into a meta-communicative symbolism. In this symbolism, a logical-formal, as well as conceptual and philosophical grammar of paradox, of non-coincidence between grammar and discourse, between sign and denotation, between word and reality, appears. Shortly, it is an additional denunciation of formalizing distortion of technocratic age, which claims expressing the inexhaustible richness of living, in information technology and logical-mathematic symbols, which can never be reduced and trapped in the schematization of the same grammars that claim imprisoning it. In this respect, the passage recorded with explicit writing of Descartes philosophical language is significant, as it alludes to cogito ergo sum, in contrast with the living corporeity of feeling, which translates that formula in the existential and sentient revaluation of living organicity. On the geometrical shapes, which are aesthetically transfigured in coloristic, soft, and refined perceptions, anti-Descartes formulas with a sensational-existential character: sum ergo cogito; cogito ergo sentio; sentio ergo sum should be explicitly read as a message addressed to readers or users. This philosophical manifesto from Condillac to Sartre is against Descartes, in the spirit of the living organicity of Schelling, the father of the psychophysical identity of German culture in which Jörg’s formulation è immersed.


- In the fourth current called “meditating in matter” from pages 50 to 71, the artist explores the intimate properties of materials he works on (stone, wood, iron), in which surfaces, cavities, fissures, indentations, empty spaces in masses, indicate on one hand the exercise of tactile and visual sensitivity on interior properties, which are unexplored and pleasant in the intimacy of matter, and on the other hand, the symbolic value of receiving places, fertilization nests, openings in which it is possible to cultivate the recovery of silence, of meditation about enjoyed and not dispersed time, against surface and purposeless noise of present accelerated, convulse, and alienating time.


- A fifth current from pages 72 to 75 shows a coloristic display of various materials (powders, ink, gold, silver, pencil) on canvas and canvassed wood, with strong vividness characterizations, on which red, black, and yellow earths prevail, which seems to put us in the presence of living organicity in its basic elements, in the place of connection between organic and inorganic, between original creation and construction of the first organization. Everything moves in a great aesthetic-coloristic composition capacity of living creative richness, when it is still uncorrupted and non-violated.


- There is a sixth current from page 76 to 81, under the item “signs” in which the artist expresses his reception of emblematic stylistic features within which he recognizes himself, in art classics, in his inner search. On one side, for example, we find his suggestion on Leonardo da Vinci, as well as his search for his own centre of gravity. These forms come back with stylistic features which alternate geometrical with organic in a chromatic pleasantness of great balance, sobriety and expressive elegance, which shall be the latent and harmonic correlation between nature and life, object and subject.


- In the seventh current from page 82 to 89, the artist uses various materials with matching compositions, which comply with and support the compatibility of colours and matter in a way as to build up emerging realities, which are different from human or natural organicity, but they respect its limits, balances, and aesthetic pleasantness. In this way, the artist shows the possibility of creativity not violating the organic limits or performs an abstract formalization of logic schemes of nature, which are poetically added to the existing nature through the mediation of competitive and constructive creativity of organic forms as a continuation of organicity and from the properties of materials they come from. It is as if the artist wanted to show that after the violent de-structuring of techno-formal age, there is still space for artistic creativity that develops natural forms, but respecting their limits.


The final part at pages 90-95 is connected with the second current for recovery of a composition as a non-detrimental minimal action and respecting the natural limits, as a criticism of gigantism and violating excess of hypertrophic techno-architecture. In the conclusion, Jörg Christoph Grünert’s aesthetic message is read again.


Pescara, 31 January 2009

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