Peter Kogler

15 Sep - 30 Oct 2010

© Peter Kogler
untitled, 1998
Silkscreen on aluminum
97 x 147 x 0,5 cm

15.09. - 30.10.2010

We are pleased to announce the third exhibition by Peter Kogler at Galerie Mezzanin!
Upon entering the gallery one is confronted with ants channelling their way over two canvases. Ants are a recurring motif in Peter Kogler’s work: the individual patterns are eighteen silkscreen prints from 1994, which Kogler then brought together onto two canvases in 2009. However, the resulting ornaments do not entirely work. Each has one inverted module, so that all parts can not be seamlessly assembled together – on the one hand the ornamentation is broken, on the other hand the modular system is revealed by this very interruption.
A few steps further, on the side wall before the main room, one encounters the ant again, this time singly and on paper. It is in good company hanging beside images of brains and a light bulb, likewise old friends of Kogler’s motif universe. These paperworks are created by means of pen plotter, a medium that would generally be used in architecture for prints from plans, which has in the meantime been replaced by the laser and inkjet printer. Plotting is thus a virtually historical medium, a symptom of a couple of decades in the last century, which were shaped by the change from analogue to digital. Equally important to the twentieth century is one of the motifs itself, the light bulb. It displays structural efficiency, it changed the way we live, and quickly became an icon. As the prototype of invention the light bulb stands, as it were, for the idea itself. Thinking is represented instead by the brain, which is shown in three variations: as a cross section, from the side, and as a transparent side view. They are all abstracted representations, which develop equally from a transformation of geometric forms, as from the inherent reduction of lines through plotting. A rationalization of the basic material takes place, an act that mirrors the contradiction between the maze-like form of the brain that is entangled in itself and that which captures arising rational thoughts.
The main room is half covered by wallpaper, which again borrows a motif from Kogler’s earlier work. The rats, which first appeared in Kogler’s work in 1980, and later returned in a new form for his retrospective exhibition at the Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Vienna (2008), appear in longitudinal and crosswise channels across the walls of the Galerie Mezzanin. The channels move in opposing directions, then abruptly ending to continue on in vertical or horizontal paths. There is no rule to identify, but the formations create something pattern-like, which in their stark contrast between black and white retrieve something ornamental. Kogler has hung images over the stream of rats, which set themselves apart from the background through their gaudy shades of red, while repeating the color of the rat’s eyes. On the left side is an amorphous form, a computer generated anti-motif that like the blob hovers over the rats as a threat to absorb everything into its formlessness. Four silkscreen prints on canvas hang on the other side. On them are shown layered tubes and bar structures, a motif that he adopted already in 1997 at the documenta 10. As a reference to the encompassing data streams and their omnipresence the canvases open themselves in the exhibition with simultaneous immateriality like windows that are closed with big bars.
Another work in the main room functions similarly. However, it is not a window, but a frame. It is encloses the wall without a motif. The motif comprises of the frame itself: it contains layered ants, which were cut out of metal by a computer operated laser cutter. The work concerns the translation of a cardboard piece from 1984 by means of a contemporary medium; as a self-reference it revolves around Kogler’s work, while as a pattern it merges into pure ornamentation.
Ants, rats, and pipes create patterns, just as they themselves become reduced to structures. Kogler finds metaphors for the individual and his social positioning in arrangements that he liberates as modern ornament. He portrays the image of an engineered and technologically devout community, which is linked up and trapped in the net of a structure made from the superimposition of different archetypes. He describes the world as a sequence of technical upheavals, whose “magical channels” increasingly affect our lives, while he stresses a central theme through his labyrinth by repeating patterns of his own artistic oeuvre in a self-reflexive way in order to transcend them.

Text: Severin Dünser

Tags: Peter Kogler