Markus Raetz: Aargauer Kunsthaus.
In fact, Raetz has been an artist of perception from the beginning, one who manipulates images in order to affect our very faculty of vision. The great range of media and techniques he has mastered, spread over fourteen rooms and a courtyard, is as impressive as one might expect. Even his early paintings from the '70s, in which he tested himself even more thoroughly than Sigmar Polke in various printing and painting techniques, allow one to sense his virtuosic handling of light and material. Raetz seduces us with his photograms, reliefs, and mirror installations, which demand precise observation of the viewer.
For example, in Dryade, 1985-88, he joined several tree branches at one end of a wall; their minimal presence recalls arte povera, but from a certain angle they form the image of a woman's torso in a small round mirror at the end of the wall. Silhouetten (fur Ernst Mach) (Silhouettes [for Ernst Mach]), 1992, a cast-iron bust turned on its head, also appears in a mirror, not only the wrong way around but right-side up. Raetz builds two profiles, hardly noticeable at first, into one bust so that they appear in their reflection.
In the face of the flood of images surrounding us, Raetz seems to be a Minimalist. His formal language generally boils down to outlines of generic landscapes and figures. This painstaking constructor is less interested in which landscape images meet our retina than in how they do it--so he usually delivers them sideways. The classic, in this respect, is Zeemansblik, 1987, whose Dutch title means "The Sailor's Gaze," though "blik" can also mean "tin." From a sheet of polished zinc, Raetz formed two joined circular forms to suggest a view through binoculars. Through a fold, a kind of horizon appears in the middle, which, thanks to the refraction of light, causes an ocean landscape to appear when we walk in front of the object. In Raetz's universe, a bent piece of metal becomes a view of the open sea.
Following Magritte, Raetz always looks for the backdoor into the image. He is no Surrealist, though, for he seeks neither the absurd nor the uncanny, instead tinkering with the transition between seeing and symbol making. Mostly, everything needed is already available to us--to grasp it just requires seeing it from a different perspective. For this, one would need years of experience and a gifted vision. Raetz has both.
Translated from German by Sara Ogger.
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|Date:||Dec 1, 2005|
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