Gavin Brown's Enterprise
620 Greenwich Street, 212-627-5258
April 1 - April 29, 2006
Reception: Saturday, April 1, 6 - 8 PM
Thomas Bayrle’s displays a wide range of work from the past 35 years which includes: a series of graphic works from the early Seventies, film works, wallpaper, paintings, collages and recent sculptural reliefs made during an extended stay in China in 2005. By its sheer massive range his work has successfully eluded the usual art historical attempts at classification: labels such as “politically motivated German Pop-Art” that do only superficial justice, and only limits our view of his work.
Bayrle’s work with printmaking, photo-collage and design has been called `Piranesi-esque’ with its complex, micro/macro patterning that generates a kind of visual synecdoche. Diverse areas of `knowledge’ such as nanotechnology, cybernetics, pornography, urbanism and advertising provide the foundation, the impetus and the raw material of Bayrle’s practice. Through the relationships of dot and grid or cell and conduit, the artist creates pictorial superstructures that analogise the social frameworks we inhabit. He states: “I consider the relationship between individual and collective/community the same as that between dot and grid, the dot representing a component of the grid, and between cell and body, the cell being its basic element.” An oft-repeated metaphor in his work is the motorway. For him it is a symbol of the apparently never-ending, 24-hour conveyor belt production which `maintains’ our society.
Bayrle constructs architectonic, technically innovative imagery that perturbs perceptionthrough its iconoclastic use of forms. In addition to his two dimensional works, the artist also produces sculptural objects: cardboard maquettes of serpentine motorways that suggest another kind of superstructure of urban ecologies. The “highway cords” which “brutally” weave their way over and under the city create an irregular, relief-like structure on which a heavily screened photograph is printed. All the photos of the Cultural Revolution originate from the artist’s private collection which he started in 1964. They depict scenes in which construction crews are building streets and laying water mains. Thomas Bayrle is fascinated more by their vivid imagery than their ideological implications.
As a founding figure in Germany’s Pop movement along with Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter, Thomas Bayrle has been influential as both an artist and as a teacher at Frankfurt’s Staedelschule for over thirty years.