Innerer Klang, Rod Barton, London EC1

26th September - 31st October, 2009
Private View: Thursday 24th September, 6 - 9pm

Group show including:
Luke Dowd, Andrew Palmer, Tim Phillips, Henrijs Preiss and Berthold Reiß curated by Irene Bradbury.


All methods are sacred if they are internally necessary. All methods are sins if they are not justified by internal necessity.*

A century ago, Wassily Kandinsky painted his first abstract oil painting; its completion coincided with the publication of ‘The Art of Spiritual Harmony’ (later known as ‘Concerning the Spiritual in Art’). Drawing from his own practice and pioneering steps into the field of abstraction, Kandinsky’s paintings paved the way for the future generation of artists whose work he described as being ‘animated with spiritual breath’*.

In the Introduction, Kandinsky heralded the arrival of a spiritual revolution with use of the term ‘Innerer Klang’ (translated as inner sound); comparing artists to musicians who express a reality beyond the material, a consciousness like that of a meditative state in which ordinary reality is transcended.

The reverberations of Kandinsky’s belief in ‘Innerer Klang’, or self-revelation, continue to be felt in the field of abstraction today. In his essay ‘Concerning the Spiritual in Contemporary Art’ Donald Kuspit argues the current loss of ‘impulse for spiritual expression’ and the ability to sustain what Kandinsky referred to as a sense of spiritual ‘stimmung’ (an atmosphere untainted by current social and historical pressures).

To counter this argument, ‘Innerer Klang’ includes five artists whose work questions systems of belief whether, religious, mystical or the occult. Varying in media, these artists explore spiritual archetypes and symbolic languages, both ancient and modern, with a fresh resonance and immediacy, creating visionary works that converge transcendent and iconoclastic tendencies.

Luke Dowd
From the point of hanging two crystals high above his degree show space, Dowd has employed both the prismatic construction and sharp-edged geometry of energy-giving stones as a fundamental tool within his paintings. Previously, Dowd turned to Kandinsky’s work as a way of breaking down the refractive gem format so he could move further into an abstract realm.
Recent shows include the East End Academy at the Whitechapel Art Gallery and solo exhibitions at Tony Wight Gallery, Chicago and Nicelle Beauchene Gallery New York.

Andrew Palmer
Palmer’s densely layered paintings appear like icons or portals into another dimension. Worn, or stripped back, the imagery reveals partially buried symbols or ciphers, a numinous and timeless language, illuminated or parched in their finish. Palmer references from a wide ranges of sources including cosmological geometry, modernist design and Divine ethics.
Recent shows include Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle, Munich and ‘Enter the Path’, Timothy Taylor Gallery, London. Currently showing at Moot in Nottingham.

Tim Phillips
Meticulously Phillips constructs ethereal symbols of veneration, both real and virtual from materials allied to status and mercenary empowerment. Crafted from many finishes including corporate veneers, neon under-glow lighting through to artificial plant arrangements Phillips manufactures an ambivalent union between worlds of culture and belief, commercialism and the archaic forms of religious authority.
Phillips just completed a residency at the Florence Trust, London and was nominated for the Catlin Art Prize this year.

Henrijs Preiss
Born from a family of Russian and Latvian artists, Preiss absorbed a vast knowledge of multi-cultural compositional methods from medieval religious iconography, Taoist diagrams, Cabbalist symbolism, Ancient Cartography through to his Father’s own admiration for Kandinsky’s abstract works. At the centre of Preiss’s radiating and visionary mandalas he repeats what appears to be an alchemical formula or planetary cyclicality.
Recent exhibitions include the East End Art Academy at the Whitechapel Art Gallery.

Berthold Reiß
In his enigmatic series of delicate watercolors, Reiß revisits the German schools of Romanticism, Jugendstil through to the Mediterranean Metaphysical art of De Chirico. Operating within their own utopian context and logic, the sequence of four ‘Fabel’ paintings is devoid of any perspective or narrative yet combine classical figures amongst Mediterranean arcades, horizons and botany. Bleached in their near translucent colour washes, like stain-glass windows they emanate a serene sanctity in their didactic balance of pictorial elements. Underlying Reiß’s work is Immanuel Kant’s notion of a ‘schema’ which adheres to Kandinsky’s theoretical approach to diagrams, such as the moving triangle that represents the life of the inner spirit.*
Currently, Reiß is on show in ‘Access All Areas, a drawing exhibition’ at Max Hetzler, Berlin and solo exhibitions at Galerie Ben Kaufmann, Munich as well as curating an exhibition ‘Hier is Amerika’ during Art Berlin Contemporary in 2008.

*All quotes from W. Kandinsky ‘Concerning the Spiritual in Art’ First published in German 1912 and then English by Constable and Company Ltd in 1914 and The Dover edition with introduction by M.T.H Sadler in 1977

** Donald Kuspit ‘Concerning the Spiritual in Contemporary Art – The Spiritual in Art – Abstract Painting 1890-1985, Los Angeles County Museum cat. published November 1986

Currently a touring major retrospective on Kandinsky work is at its final venue – The Guggenheim, New York from 18th September 2009 – 13th January 2010.


Installation view, Innerer Klang, Rod Barton, London

Installation view, Innerer Klang, Rod Barton, London

Installation view, Innerer Klang, Rod Barton, London

Installation view, Innerer Klang, Rod Barton, London