Innerer Klang, Rod Barton, London
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.
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
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
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
Phillips just completed a residency at the Florence Trust, London and was nominated
for the Catlin Art Prize this year.
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.
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
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
*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.
TIM PHILLIPS & LUKE DOWD
Installation view, Innerer Klang, Rod Barton, London
ANDREW PALMER, HENRIJS PREISS & BERTHOLD REIß
Installation view, Innerer Klang, Rod Barton, London
Installation view, Innerer Klang, Rod Barton,
Installation view, Innerer
Klang, Rod Barton, London