In collaboration withGalerie Nordenhake and Galerei Riis
Art Basel Art Unlimited 2012
Territorium 17, 2012
Günter Umberg makes paintings with pure, dry pigment that are entirely about the paint and not at all about illusion or anything outside the painting’s materials. Territorium 17, 2012 comprises 21 monochrome paintings of different sizes in various shades of green and black as well as an 8m long wooden wedge—an oversized ramp. The ramp as an architectural element highlights the physical aspect of the viewer‘s encounter with the paintings. It obstructs the view of the monochromes but at the same time guides it. Its wooden surface acts as a visual counterpart to the paintings. Prevented by the ramp from getting close to a single work it is difficult to perceive the painting‘s dense, deep, and non-figurative surfaces without experiencing them in relation to each other. The viewers are invited to focus on the group in its entirety and to explore the relation and interaction between each singular element. The subtle differences of the paintings‘ individual colors, their specific sizes and rectangular forms, as well as the spaces in between them become apparent. Their surfaces seem to alternately recede and emerge from the wall—a movement evoked by their differing distances from the wall.
The project for Art Unlimited is the 17th in Umberg’s series of installations titled “Territorium” (territory). By installing his paintings in carefully arranged groups and shaping the viewer’s paths of approach and bodily movement, the artist creates a specific space for sensual experience, opening up a close dialogue between the paintings themselves, the room, and the viewer. Since the 1980s Günter Umberg has undertaken the task of returning to the “root source” or the “essence of painting”, taking the monochrome not as a metaphor for the death of painting but as point of departure. In the last years he has consistently created specific installations with his paintings, and in addition has curated museum exhibitions including other artist’s works to enable an enhanced understanding of his highly specific approach to painting in general as well as to his primarily black or green monochromes in particular.