Bringing a twist into the stylistic tradition of conceptual art born out of high (abstract) modernism, Alexander Gutke creates carefully choreographed analytical sculptural and cinematic situations that question our traditional understanding of “realism”.
His current solo exhibition features objects/sculptural works made between 2008-2014 and three recently finished videos, that all of which correspond to the idea and illusion of infinity in their own specific way.
The wall mounted Measure (2011), made from brass sheet, transforms a domestic object –the textile measuring tape– into a Möbius strip. As the twisted cylinder with engraved metric markings becomes both a poetic and deadpan metaphor of paradoxical nature that conveys the concept of the infinite surface, Folded Into One (2012) works with countable infinities. As an installation it presents variable configurations of the image of the universe squared and formatted as a heap of hundreds of stacked folded cardboard boxes. Printed both inside and out, the 3-dimensional collage is built as a modular system to be expandable through various arrangements that may spread out vertically and horizontally carrying the very same image of a starry sky.
Since the very beginning of his career, Gutke has been occupied with cinema’s material elements: the physical and technical characteristics of analogue film (light, celluloid filmstrip, screen and projector) and cinematic narrative. Three of his new videos from a series of five, Draw (2014), zoom in on some minimal theatrical spectacles of spontaneously combusting vintage matchbooks. Unfolding through changing image formats, Gutke`s seductive sequences, similarly to previous film-based works, reveal a studious process and dramaturgy. Held against a monochrome dark background, the torch-like fires appear like calibrated hourglasses measuring “their own time”, each burning, then fading away at a slightly different pace leaving only a smoke trail before the picture turns black again and the looped performance restarts
With an undeniable playfulness and self-irony, Gutke`s practice at large often challenge both our logic of viewing and the mechanisms of perception. Untitled (for Christian Andersson), a sculptural object from 2007 pays tribute to generous collegiality and to some enthusiastic late 90s experiments with two-way mirrors and light, recalling the novelty design lamps of 60s lounge lighting. Placed on the floor, the open box is equipped with light tubes, a mirror and a two-way glass, together creating the illusion of an infinite tunnel inside the box, which is revealed when one bends to look inside.
His new sculptural work Loud, loud (2014), made specifically for the exhibition, presents a 137,5% enlarged brass replica of a Marshall Amp volume knob displayed centrally on a large wall of its own, attuned to the scale and proportions of its immediate surroundings. Inspired by his subjective experience of a spectrum of noise qualities from unwanted random to expressive musical, and from loud to barely audible, the piece continues in a line of replica works with their considerable set of references to the heydays of analogue technology and music history.