Visionary Fragment, 2007
Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York.
The patina of Katja Strunz’s geometric constructions suggests an artificial ageing and induced historicity. The passage of time and the transformation of materials are key to her assemblages, which often incorporate sculptural elements that reflect a variation on a theme: a series of different-sized cubes or a collection of folded shapes that appear to take flight in the gallery. The key to her materials is their physicality: the grain of the wood, the various processes of painting or the oxidisation applied to metals. Her works can appear as threatening forms or parasitical growths, or even zoomorphic gatherings of bird-like shapes. This sculpture presents metal cubes seemingly held in place by some unknown magnetism, to create what the artist calls “room language”.
Strunz’s cuboid sculptures treat the wall as a picture plane, with forms that suggest Malevich’s Suprematist experiments but in three dimensions, either cascading down the surface or huddled in neat groups. The materials fluctuate between exposing their own brute realities and hiding behind coats of black or white paint. A few of the bashed boxes are covered in rust, creating an intentionally trite sense of nostalgia, and building a history into these geometric shapes.
Strunz’s work is heavily informed by history. She speaks of how “you can watch how things change form as they get torn down and new things are built up. It’s always a question of how to store this organic history. I am interested in how to make history live, which is logically impossible. As a child, I remember visiting a museum of classical art and being upset to find that I could not feel the passage of time and its effects on the art. There is an impulse to preserve the art object, but when art stops transforming itself it all feels a bit like visiting a cemetery. I started looking for a kind of envisioning or visualization of time. Ones perception of time is not controllable, but it seems that within traumatic experiences or memories the past suddenly merges into the present.”