“What is speci c about an artist’s work, assuming he/she is working on a piece of work – physical work – and not just some bit of buffoonery? Well, the same as what we nd with a carpenter, cabinetmaker, stonemason, blacksmith – with the majority, if not all of these trades.” The foundations of the work of Michael Beutler (Oldenburg, 1976) appear to rise out of this declaration of principles, put forward by Ángel González in one of his latest interviews. The dif culty of tackling a body of work which eludes any kind of categorisation and shies away from canons or formulas, constituting a methodology which spans time and constructs, through simulated improvisation, a free and primitive language. Here the terms fade away until they disappear. Experience substitutes theory. There is no image; there is body. Paths which transgress the uniformity and homogeneity of the artistic.
The Heinrich Ehrhardt Gallery is presenting the rst solo exhibition of Michael Beutler in Spain. As is the case with the vast majority of Beutler’s projects, this involves work carried out speci cally for the gallery space, where the process of producing the pieces is undertaken in tandem with the installation of the show. Combining various directions and stages of artistic creation Beutler creates a chain effect by which process and oeuvre form an indivisible whole.
Michael Beutler’s work comes out of nothingness, a void. There are no preliminary steps. Materials, production, mechanics and method all come together in an exercise which transforms the magical into routine through the construction of all the elements necessary to manufacture and assemble his pieces. The starting point of the process, the manufacturing of the very machines used to make the pieces constitutes an essential and permanent part of the exhibition. And, meanwhile, the material produced in situ out of the functioning of those rudimentary artefacts, practically invented and improvised by the artist on the spot, constitutes the ephemeral part. On this occasion, and for the rst time in Beutler’s oeuvre, the machines are no longer manufactured in wood but in plaster and sackcloth, as a sort of functional sculptural elements which craft all of the pieces in the exhibition using rollers, blades and ink.
Diversifying the body of work over a series of stages, the manufacturing method is presented in highly precise phases, in which the different types of paper are cut, printed and rolled up, in their nal combination forming incredibly long columns of colour. It is as such that the gallery takes on the appearance of a psychedelic labyrinth of brilliant winks of scale in which the fragile and weightless verticality formed by the columns of paper comes into contrast with the weight and prehistoric robustness of the plaster machinery.
The referential aspect of Beutler’s work is of minimal importance here. The path the artist has chosen not only sparks new debates about the originality of art, it also opens up an enormous gap between the system of production and work, a deep gulf that swallows up the avenues and canons of art which nd themselves at the polar extremes of a unique and visceral work which is also methodical and rhythmic.
Amorphous shapes which unravel between the abstract purity of grafting and the formal sophistication of the avant-garde. Between popular folklore, artisan craft and trade. African art and Prouvé. Functionality and the absurd. A sense of humour and a commitment to what we do and how we do it. A “Do-it-yourself” taken to the most coherent, ingenious and comprehensive consequences of a work that is committed to art and to the world. A taste for colour, for the architectural, for play, for the unexpected… A brilliant artist whose lucidity enables him to surpass the uniform tedium which is ravaging art and its globalisation. A new game has been invented, with coherent and moving rules which lead Beutler to play a role which illustrates not just his commitment to art but to a way of existing in the world. Reminiscent of Fischli and Weiss, this artist strips the mask away from something as essential and relevant as the very “State of things” through the physical and phenomenological. And that is where the never-ending work of Michael Beutler comes into play