Ulysses Belz, Eunji Seo
July 16 - August 28, 2020
It sometimes seems as though our visual world is dominated by the pixel, whether in video or photography. In such a universe, the works of Ulysses Belz (born 1958) and Eunji Seo (born 1984) feel like a true rediscovery of the line. Vectors, trajectories, marks suggesting gravity or speed: the lines in Belz's and Seo's work show, outline or hint at something otherwise intangible. They appear, perhaps as instinctive responses to a stimulus; or perhaps as an energy field that permeates everything.
Reflecting on the creation of his copper engravings, Ulysses Belz explains: "Conductivity is a well-known factor in copper printing…the copper plate absorbs body heat when it's handled, and is then heated before printing to improve the flow of the ink. Because it's an excellent conductor, copper is also affected by nerve impulses in the body of the artist - that is, it is able to pick up states of tension."
Confronted with his copper engravings, those impulses and tensions - which we all experience more or less unconsciously in our own thought process and imagination - suddenly become visible. In Belz's work, lines become messengers, as in his large-format graphic You are HERE (2020). Although ethereal, they nevertheless appear as collections of substance; without defining a specific area, they somehow suggest a space; they imply gravitational fields that nonetheless have nothing to do with mass. At first sight, everything appears constantly in motion, mocking the viewer's efforts to bring visual order to the work. Then, all of a sudden, the red dot familiar from hundreds of information boards, and the title of the work come together in the viewer's mind as if with a smooth click of recognition: "you are here". But this discovery is instantly displaced by another ambiguity: where, exactly, is 'here'? And what, for that matter, is 'you'? Recalling Descartes' maxim "I think, therefore I am", You are HERE is typical of Belz's oeuvre which, since 2005, has been characterized by a grappling with neurosciences and his own cognitive processes.
Eunji Seo's intricate works, meanwhile, are characterized by formal severity, concentration and apparent uniformity. They play with the limitations of perceptual physiology, at the same time focusing on the way in which every creative act requires the artist to dominate the chosen materials.
From a distance, the works appear to be purely monochrome. But as one approaches them, their appearance changes: they begin to vibrate and flicker. It is only close up that the seemingly-infinite number of lines responsible for these effects - positioned extremely close to each other as if by a patient determination - are discernible. Constant repetition lends each work a pleasing sense of perfection. But this is an illusion: in fact, every line is an individual object, and evidence of the artist's creative process. No line is the same as its neighbor, but stands for itself and is made unique by irregularities.
In her pictures, Seo quite specifically seeks to break away from a mathematical idea of perfection. The pieces are given formulaic names, such as (6,5)3 (2020) or (1-19) (2020), which refer to her approach. Every number stands for the length or the width of the lines, or the distance between them within the picture. But this apparently rigid order carries an element of chance within it: Seo chooses one of the parameters by rolling a die. This approach reflects her aspiration to "find a balance between 'difference and repetition', 'chaos and order' and 'chance and necessity'."
16.07. - 28.08.2020
Türkenstr. 32, 80335 Munich