Desert Disco

The image shows an art work by Allan McCollum installed at Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin.
Allan McCollum, Object Lesson, 1973, installation view at Galerie Thomas Schulte. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin. Photo: Stefan Haehnel.

Review
Works 1970-1073. Allan McCollum
April 23 – June 4, 2022
Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin

The first challenge when encountering these works is how to address them: paintings, tapestries; paintestries, tapings? These are wall structures out of canvas and various types of adhesive and caulking. The artist does refer to them as paintings.

The works carry both history and tradition, and are yet clearly contemporary: the geometric shapes refer Arabic patterns, Ancient garden culture and traditional wall tapestries. The glitter and silicon manifest the Now. The by times camouflage-like dying techniques show references to war, a characteristic emphasized by the visible adhesives and the sheer size of the works. Then again, the paintings offer a direct path to meditation allowing absorption and getting lost in their large format and the sense of touch they give to the walls. 

The image shows an art work by Allan McCollum installed at Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin.
Allan McCollum, Deep Connections, 1973, installation view at Galerie Thomas Schulte. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin. Photo: Stefan Haehnel.

Works 1970-1973. Allan McCollum at Galerie Thomas Schulte shows a selection of Allan McCollum’s Constructed and Bleach Paintings. Started in 1969, these work groups demonstrate the artist’s emphasis on process, repetition, and various kinds of systems.  The bright colours of his later works here reside in subtler shades without losing their essentially visual impact and – literal – edginess. But it comes less blatant. The exhibition’s Showroom in particular (side note to the white roses) offers an Oasis of calm.

The breadth of the geometric patterns is perceivable only from afar. Silvia Ebling (1971) specifically relates to Street Art, an(d) intervention on brick work. Object Lesson (1973) resembles a Tetris-board, again subtler and cheekier though. Deep Connections (1973) marks an oil catastrophe happening on a rainbow. From afar, the work seems less hostile than seen close-by with its explicit brush strokes and loose threads constituting an eerily ambiguous materiality. In its entirety difficult to grasp in proximity, If Love Had Wings: A Perpetual Cannon (1972) is an uprising in an activating and self-sufficient way. The work is sun, breeze, sand, sea; dessert, blossom and garden.

The image shows an art work by Allan McCollum installed at Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin.
Allan McCollum, If Love Had Wings: A Perpetual Cannon, 1972, installation view at Galerie Thomas Schulte. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin. Photo: Stefan Haehnel.

And just like that, these works form geometric gardens – Labyrinths; not the unsettling, but clearing ones. 

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