Seeking from a distance at Untitled (2022), a smaller painting on wooden that does not appear to be to demonstrate nearly anything but scribbles in white paint mixed with some traces of black, orange, and yellow, you may possibly imagine Robert Ryman’s under no circumstances-ending endgame of portray in all variations of white. But if you occur closer, this association proves to be inappropriate. Rather of Ryman’s allover colour application in pure gestures, 1 discovers in the arbitrary squiggles and scribbles a bouquet of flowers, and, sprinkled in excess of them like pollen, good particles of aluminum glitter that also really do not very in shape into a neo-avant-garde-like position. On even nearer inspection of the small photo, the size of a sheet of paper, it is disclosed that the traces of fluorescent orange and yellow are not used to the floor but instead emerging from the floor of the painting, in the areas in which the scribbles erode the white paint to these types of an extent that a colored qualifications results in being seen, revealed in fragile lines vaguely defining the contours of petals and stems.
Nora Kapfer’s minimal portray hung at the really starting of her recent solo exhibition at Kunsthalle Friart in Fribourg, Switzerland. Its adjacency to substantially bigger (in comparison gigantic) paintings, each of which makes entirely various visual consequences, nipped any affiliation of painting’s endgame in the bud. Black-brown, partly reflective, partly matte surfaces in which stenciled contours emerge (Küriss , Untitled (Salami II) ) alternated with colour fields overgrown by stenciled flowers in a 50 percent-typical, 50 percent-irregular method (Pythia I and Pythia II ). Here, motivic banality fulfilled painterly pathos (Dein Herz/Dein Garten [Your Heart/Your Garden, 2022]), the ornamental fulfilled the resistant, the mechanical met the gestural, figuration satisfied abstraction, and nonorganic forms alternated with natural types. At the extremely close of the sequence of paintings hung a further compact-structure wooden panel, this time in black, with similar flower doodles, from which the coloured qualifications partly emerges in thin traces. By bracketing the sequence of significant paintings with much smaller white and black panels—two functions that exhibit a quick, uncontrolled painterly generation, similar to sketches—Kapfer suggested that the operates in involving are similarly about earning and permitting the painting arise from its material.
What is special about this emergence is that Kapfer’s procedure of producing is usually described by opposing methods of unmaking. The earliest functions offered at Friart were Untitled (Salami) (2017), Untitled (Salami II) (2017), and Küriss (2018), in which Kapfer produced a mechanical approach dependent on the application of bitumen, a tar-like liquid black substance, above the picture floor to give it a reflective area, into which the artist glued large silhouettes of bouquets produced of Japanese paper that soaked up the oily things. The natural composition of these papers indeed suggests the surface of a sliced salami—hence the curious title. Or is Kapfer humorously alluding here to her “salami ways,” a policy of modest steps to master the good maneuver of painting, of which she at the time almost despaired? In other paintings (not exhibited in Fribourg), flowers and other banal and kitschy motifs (hearts, stars, stylized figures) have been used as paper styles into the bitumen layer only to be taken out again, leaving obvious traces of the stenciled silhouettes.
Küriss bears no recognizable motif on its floor, but the black bitumen was partly scraped off the wooden with the assist of solvent to visually minimize out checkerboard styles and diligently stenciled circles as very well as natural shapes these stand out in opposition to the black fields and have been partly covered yet again with vinyl. The mechanical procedures of applying bitumen, slicing out stencils, gluing on paper cutouts, portray them over with oil or vinyl, and scratching the paint off again overlap with an auto-generative chemical approach caused by the bitumen’s response with diverse layers of the painting, supplying the area an organic and natural-on the lookout texture in some places. Of class, well-identified methods of a quasi-photographic écriture automatique are recalled listed here, but they are recombined with even more modernist and postmodernist components of portray these kinds of as the grid, the stencil, the pictorial gesture, the figurative cliché, et cetera.
Grids, stencils, and flower clichés also underlie Pythia I and II, painted in gouache, acrylic, and oil on canvas. Here, the largely mechanical, grid-like arrangement of colour fields into which flower stencils are serially inserted was supplemented by a somewhat painterly process. The bouquets right cite Andy Warhol’s Flowers and refer to his Do It By yourself series from 1962, which involved the mechanical filling in of fields according to a numerical code. But though Warhol’s Flowers expose the arbitrariness of colour and its business use, and his paint-by-quantities sequence insist on uninteresting mechanical codes, Kapfer’s “paint-by-flowers” works apply a to some degree gestural design and style by filling the stenciled fields with obvious brushstrokes in expressive purple or fleshy rosy colors, therefore undoing the mechanical result of the serialized varieties, specifically when irregularities split the serial pattern.
Ultimately, to make operates this sort of us Untitled (Oleander III) (2021),Kapfer recycled paper cuts torn off of other paintings, gluing and juxtaposing them in their partly fragmented sorts. The overlapping designs of paper bouquets are however marked by the composition of the canvas on which they were formerly pasted, and so produce an organic-like texture, although they just convey the content traces of their mechanical transfer. With a related impact, Dein Herz, Dein Garten (Your Heart/Your Yard, 2022)recycles flowers cut out of an additional painted canvas and fixed with acrylic glue on the area of the new canvas, therefore developing an overpainted, reduction-like structure.
Painting, in Kapfer’s variety of will work for Friart, offers by itself as a intricate layering of resources and current archetypes (grids, figure-floor relations, monochromes, stencils), which either keep “working” independently by chemically and materially infiltrating every other, or are “counteracted” by the artist manually undoing the layering through partial removing, scraping, scratching, tearing off. In the acrylic and oil paintings on canvas, it is alternatively the gestural software of paint that operates counter to the mechanical composition of the photo and the serial stenciling of banal flowers.
Also in the painterly doodles of the smaller wood panels, the uncontrolled scribbling of the artist’s device lays bare colored paper grounds, thus demonstrating the substance company in the creation of figuration. The motif listed here seems to be just a side outcome of the artist’s handling. Kapfer explicitly hyperlinks these minimal paintings to reverse engineering, as invoked by the cultural theorist and philosopher Sadie Plant in her 1997 book Zeros + Types: Electronic Gals and the New Technoculture.1 Plantrelates reverse engineering, a “process of analyzing a issue process to determine the system’s factors and their interrelationships and produce representations of the process in one more variety or at a larger degree of abstraction,” to procedures and discoveries by Ada Lovelace and Anna Freud.2 She describes Freud’s means to speed up her work—the writing of letters and lectures—by developing scribbles on blank pages at significant pace, which induced her to perceive her tasks as by now finished. She then additional effortlessly turned to the true creating, getting simplified it to a program of anticipatory principles and approaches. This technique of “beginning in the finish of any procedure, functioning backwards from that point to the commencing,” Plant promises, consists of in it an “invention of creation itself,” hence contradicting the basic stereotype of femininity that pervades psychoanalysis, in which woman creativity is usually dependent on the imitation of the pure.3
In accurately this sense, Kapfer’s white and black wood panels, tellingly each and every the dimensions of a sheet of paper, can be browse as innovations of the creation. Like catalysts in which the artist works her way back again to the floor from the a number of layering of colored papers and white or black oil paint in swift movements that are as uncontrolled as attainable, they launch the concepts of a way of doing work that can then be even further developed in the big paintings. In the very same way hackers use reverse engineering “and pirates conspire to lure the long run to their side,” as Plant places it, Kapfer pirates each expressionist and mechanical models of painting by “engaging in a method which simultaneously assembles and dismantles the route back again to the start, the finish, the long run, the past.”4 Sabeth Buchmann, in her catalogue textual content for Friart, analyzes Kapfer’s adaption of reverse engineering as a demonstration of a correlation of organic and natural, inorganic, and cultural types, further than the essentialist equation of biological expansion with aesthetic development: “Kapfer’s paintings engender that which engenders them” in the very same way as “nature does what is pure to it.”5
But how can a portray engender that which engenders it? Can it basically perform a type of “hysteresis, the lagging of consequences behind their will cause,” as Plant describes reverse engineering?6 How can portray go again to its “source codes”? Hysteresis is the dependence of the condition of a technique on its heritage. Chip reverse engineering takes advantage of techniques of delayering by etching and scratching off the hardware layer by layer in order to discover and separate its components. If Kapfer is etching, scratching off, and tearing out levels of her paintings, this, of system, does not result in protocols or diagrams. The frequent undertaking and undoing of layers appears to be a way of separating painting’s things from just one a different in order to recombine, redesign, and without a doubt reactivate them.
The things in Kapfer’s paintings do not end result in unified surfaces. Relatively, they expose the ruptures in the procedure of their producing and doc the back and forth of do the job ways. In the oil and acrylic paintings, these ruptures acquire the sort of obvious-reduce traces concerning distinct zones in which decreased levels outline the “reaction” of things in the layers on top rated. The stenciled flowers, for illustration, are never just stuffed mechanically with one particular colour but are painted in correspondence to the underlying grid. They “react” to edges, traces, varieties, and products beneath them and are for that reason often divided into various fields in phrases of color—fields that are derived not from the flower motif alone but from the method of its building. In the bitumen pics, the motif is in each and every case only a result of the working techniques (slicing out, pasting, tearing out, transferring, scratching off, and painting over), which overlap and make consequences.
But what Kapfer’s is effective last but not least reflect is that painting, as a lot as it may perhaps be a system, is not only based mostly on code. As Georges Didi-Huberman famously set it, portray is in the long run defined by the “sovereign accident” that he identifies as “difficult to analyze, notably in semantic or legendary terms for it is a perform or an impact of painting as coloured product, not as descriptive indicator.” The “sovereign accident” seems as a “symptom” that has dropped its code, its concept, and “opposes its content opacity—which is dizzying—to all mimesis.”7 The “symptom” is a painterly outcome that does not “lag” driving its “causes.” It can’t only be reversed the sovereign accident can only occur. Reverse engineering in Kapfer’s painting as a result does not consequence in pure assessment of its resource codes.
The bitumen paintings, but also the paintings on canvas, leave room for all types of sovereign incidents by dealing with substance opacity as the basic code of painting, to place it figuratively. In Kapfer’s most current paintings,this sort of as Pensées perdues (Misplaced Feelings, 2022), her methods of layering, etching, scratching off, and adding ever new layers of paint or figurative components, even no cost-handedly painted stems and petals, which feel to proliferate around the surface, savor and even revel in the effects that the at any time-new superimpositions and erasures of substance traces generate. The motifs, the flowers and vegetation in their various styles and colors, are just an impact “lagging of results driving their [material] triggers.” The piecemeal remains obvious. The portray is structured by means of ruptures of obvious-slice strains concerning distinct zones, each and every exposing distinct relations of their elements and their mechanical or guide cure. The painting does not present an natural entire but instead a synthesis of painterly situations, of get the job done methods and reversals.
Nora Kapfer’s portray is from scratch: she basically goes back again to ground zero of painting, bringing it even materially “down to earth” in the petroleum substance of the bitumen paintings. From there, the flowers develop in the asphalt. In this form of painting, remaining in today’s entire world does not suggest integrating its floods of pictures, but revitalizing its codes and eliciting a substance from even the most banal cliché by exposing the content alone as a generating power.
Nora Kapfer (b. 1984, Munich) lives and works in Berlin. Latest exhibitions involve Les beaux jours, C L E A R I N G, Brussels (2022) Identität nicht nachgewiesen, Bundeskunsthalle Bonn, Germany (2022) Recent Paintings, Édouard Montassut, Paris (2021) Areas, The Wig, Berlin (2021) Come a Time, Galerie Lars Friedrich, Berlin (2020) A Residence is not a Household and A Dwelling is not a Household, Kunsthalle Friart, Fribourg, Switzerland (2019) Celluloid Brush, Etablissement d’en face, Brussels (2018) 50 % a zip. Fifty percent a pow, Nousmoules, Vienna (2018) and New Tar, WIELS, Brussels (2017).