Exhibition of recent works by Austrian artist Thomas Baumann opens at Galerie Nicolas Krupp

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Exhibition of recent works by Austrian artist Thomas Baumann opens at Galerie Nicolas Krupp
Installation view of Thomas Baumann's exhibition @ Nicolas Krupp, Basel.

by Georg Janik

BASEL.- The solo presentation at Galerie Nicolas Krupp by Austrian artist Thomas Baumann combines recent works from his sculptures and paintings in a complex arrangement.

Rooted in his training under Bruno Gironcoli, Baumann's approach is marked by a deep engagement with materials as well as a profound knowledge of, the development of and application of a range of technical tools. Automatisation, kinetics and programming languages are as suitable raw materials for Baumann as the medium of painting itself. Harald Krejci, Curator of the Belvedere in Vienna: "The status quo in Baumann's works often forces one to challenge the technology with regard to its political, social and societal use or abuse. For his art, the use of technology is a means of experimentally casting into question the tools of artistic production — a brush being a form of technology..."

So, the choice of technical processes and systems in his work is not solely an allusion to a conceptual approach to contemporary issues in art, furthermore it shows the artist as a protagonist anchored in critical Modernism.

Thomas Baumann's further development of a self-designed and self-built "Painting Machine" using his own computer control programming for application onto the support, enables him — going beyond the computer code — to undertake drawing and painterly interventions in the progression of the painting by hand. Ultimately, says Baumann, "a hybrid between hand and machine, between freehand drawing and digital processes." Baumann's painterly forms here are precise structures, frequently dominated by geometric schemes and abstract patterns that then lend individual expression to these expressions of machine-made repetition when the motif blends into inverted or opposing forms. Whether "erroneous" staggered and overlapping patterns show, or small connection errors in orthogonal grids bring the organisation off track, they are as essential as the deviations appear gradual. The reliability of the standardised compositions acquires fissures, and tips of kilter. Baumann — enjoying himself — raises the question of responsibility: What is a systems failure, what is deliberate intervention?

The way the artist exhausts the potential of aesthetic and semantic transformation is at first also evident in the wall-length intervention There is a Hype between all this Leaves, which leads from one gallery space to the next. It shows a camouflage net that contradicts its own significance, attracting exposure with alarming fluorescent colours, reminiscent of a psychedelic meadow of flowers. An "overstretched" explosion of colour that provides an interesting example of an expanded notion of painting. Arranged as a pair, rotating pills of impressive dimensions hover above these.
In the second space the question is posed: Is there a White, is there a Black Inside? Mobile, kinetic objects comprised of small parts, a smashed clock with neon tubes give an overview of the diversity of the sculptural creations. In a sequence of alternating ideal transmissions that occur within and in-between the works, the artist poses questions about origins and end, about procreation and departure. Similarly, in a work made of porcelain that Baumann had completed in Jingdezhen, the ancient centre of Chinese porcelain manufacture. The group of sculptures shows oversized eggs with split tops. Something great has emerged there, the outgrowing in the imagination of the viewer can step into the spotlight.

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