This will be the first solo presentation by Uecker in London in over fifty years. Spanning two floors, Verletzte Felder (Wounded Fields) will feature a group of new works. The gallery will publish an artist’s book in conjunction with the exhibition.
The title of the exhibition is derived from a series of six large-scale paintings, presented here for the first time, which embody Uecker’s highly physical approach and explore various articulations of light and shadow. On the process of creating these paintings, the artist has written:
Canvas glued onto wood surfaces covered in thick white paint, applied by hand.
Emotions transform into gestures, into artistic actions—they become visible and form a field, tilled and furrowed like cropland. Nailed, planted.
A crevice, a gash in the painted field, struck from behind with an axe; a split in a developing structure, driven apart by nails; a battlefield.
The shifting daylight creates shadows in the nail fields like those on a sundial.
The material becomes artistic expression: painted, broken apart, sown with nails. The perception of world events finds reflection in the ‘Poetry of Destruction’—applied to the surface, driven into the ground, buried, visibly rendered in a dense poetic expression of signs and ciphers.
Like many of Uecker’s incisive works, these paintings are eminently ethical, considering themes of human violence, vulnerability, and political responsibility. To create them, Uecker stretched canvas atop thick pieces of wood, intuitively painting the surfaces in a highly physical, ritualistic, and visceral manner using thickly applied white paint. Formed on top of the painted surfaces are undulating patterns of nails (a material the artist has employed since the late 1950s) in differing configurations—some expansive and field-like, and others geometric and orderly. Uecker attacked the surfaces of the paintings—both from the front and verso—with an axe, creating violent and disruptive gashes in their meditative planes. For the artist, the absence of colour in his white monochrome works opens up a wealth of mystical possibilities. In his lecture ‘White’, held in 1965, Uecker defined the white space of his work as a ‘space of spiritual existence’, linked to the concept of the void; for Uecker, it represents a new world ‘of silence beyond all screams’.
Verletzte Felder also includes Bäume aus einem Stamm (Trees from One Trunk), a work created between 2009 and 2015, which comprises three tree-like forms all originating from one large wood trunk. The individual ‘trees’ are covered in ash and nails, and evoke a frequent theme in Uecker’s work—his long-term investigation into the complex relationship between nature and humanity, with an underlying message of healing and resurrection. The materials covering the trunks reference this cycle: in Uecker’s work, the nail, frequently associated with piercing or violence, has opposite connotations. Here, nails sprouting from the tops of the tree trunks instantiate a new visual dimension, creating ever-changing arrangements of light and shadow. Ash, coating the rough tree bark, simultaneously represents death and evokes the sequence of life—‘from dust to dust’—pointing to the possibility of rebirth.