Much has already been thought and written about the head and portrait form of the well-known Black Square, first realized in 1915. The total detachment from the object and from the phenomena of nature exists only as an assertion, as an intellectual game - but not as something manufactured, and certainly not in the form of a work of art, which "is about a truth of non-objective being beneath the surface of phenomena" - at least, this is how Kasimir Malevich once put it, who gave a counterpart of the Black Square the following title: Red Square. Painterly Realism of a Peasant Woman in Two Dimensions.
The „non-objective being beneath the surface of phenomena,“ or rather the motivic and metaphoric connection that almost inevitably arises through the reductive forming of concrete natural and other phenomena, is the artistic-ideological field to which Frank Maier's painting also belongs, in which densely constructed, finely chiselled orders of lines and shapes prevail.
In the paintings, which at first glance appear abstract, the artist uses complexes of forms that refer specifically to reality - for example, to the physical characteristics of a marine animal, a crab (see: Crab, or Black Hole Crab Sun). It is recognizable by its triangularly tapering defense implements and its characteristically carapaced body - and at the same time evokes various associations. These include the aspect of defensiveness and of being armed, which can be understood in a positive sense as being sovereign or autonomous, because this is how the species from primeval times ensures its survival. In addition, there are other themes related to the crab, such as the connotations “not succeeding in” or “spoiling” something, as well as on the other hand the ability of the animal to move sideways and backwards if the given circumstances should not allow it to go straight ahead.
A complex matter is also the web of meaning that pervades Frank Maier's painting Lullaby, where severed claws and other fragments of crab bodies seem to have been stranded in an Yves Tanguy-like, fantastic wasteland. The potential for destruction and loss expressed in the well-known lullaby Schlaf, Kindlein, schlaf is hinted at - if not even illustrated - in the picture with a seemingly spilled red tone whose amorphous surface formation stands in sharp contrast to the circular forms also present in the pictorial space.
These circular forms look like multicoloured ball-bearings, compactly and autonomously present in Frank Maier's pictorial spaces (e.g. in Sparkling), or searching for new places there. Their actual form, consisting of staggered singular elements, is a „re-pupating“ of the ribbon-like frames, which in many of the artist's works accumulate at the edges of the picture and are often continued in material terms beyond the pictorial space by one or more frame strips - fanned-out boundaries with which the picture asserts itself as separate from its surroundings.
New in Frank Maier's iconography is the impression of cosmic landscapes, for example in the painting escape, in whose pictorial realm a supposedly rotating, technoid iridescent circular form mutates Franz Radziwill-like into a more or less known flying object, which either threatens the world humans live in or promises a monad-like shelter in view of the desolate situation on earth.
/ Text: Thomas Groetz
/ Übersetzung: Frank Geber