In an extensive exhibition, Galerie Michael Haas confronts sculptures and drawings by Hans Uhlmann (1900-1975) with paintings by Günter Umberg (*1942).
A strict, intensively densifying abstraction, which at the same time testifies to an incredibly sensitive handling of the possibilities of drawing and painting, characterizes the two very distinct artistic positions: the late sculptures and drawings of the time around 1960 by Hans Uhlmann and the monochrome works by Günter Umberg, which seem to float in front of the wall surface and which were created in recent years.
Uhlmann, who studied engineering in Berlin, turned to sculpture as a young man. Geometric bodies, partly completely abstract, partly in strongly simplified configurations of iron or wire, were the focus of his artistic life. He left behind an extensive oeuvre of drawings in addition to his many sculptures. Beginning in the late 1950s, Uhlmann developed distinct black-and-white drawings of line, space, and dynamics based on moving bodies and their outlines. These drawings increasingly condense and leave the amorphous behind in favour of clarity and concentrated austerity.
Uhlmann’s works on paper at this time seem at first to follow a completely different artistic approach than Günter Umberg’s works, which are composed of numerous layers of loose pigments with dammar gum and are devoted to painting itself: the reduction to the properties and possibilities of paint, pigment in its pure materiality, but also, similar to Uhlmann, the handling of surface, space and perception. With his layering technique, Umberg compacts and intensifies to such an extent that painting appears to fall silent and at the same time gains in intensity.
Umberg reduces to such an extent that the painting seems to fall silent and creates space for a sensual and meditative immersion. If we take part in the dialogue between the drawings and the wall panels, this effect intensifies all the more, with Uhlmann as with Umberg. Movement and time, that is the participation of the viewer, are decisive for the effectiveness of the individual works and at the same time link Uhlmann's drawings and sculptures with Umberg's paintings.
Hans Uhlmann defined the art of abstract metal sculpture in postwar Germany like almost no other artist. After an engineering apprenticeship he turned to art in 1925. From 1926 to 1933 he assisted Max Kloß at the Technischen Universität in Berlin. He experimented with geometric figures and from 1932 he began to use wire, which would become characteristic for his work. In 1933 he was charged with sedition and imprisoned for a year and a half. Despite the imprisonment and being labeled as a ‘degenerate artist’, he continued to produce work which he exhibited in 1945. In 1950 he was called upon by the Universität der Künste in Berlin and taught there in the Bauhaus style. The majority of his sculptures can be found in public spaces. His drawings, sketches and smaller works have been shown in numerous exhibitions, such as the first three documenta exhibitions in Kassel.
Günter Umberg, who today lives and works mainly in France, studied from 1963 to 1969 at the Düsseldorf Art Academy and the National Hoger Instituut voor Schone Kunsten Antwerp, as well as at the Werkschulen in Cologne. In 1994 Umberg received his first guest professorship at the Kunsthochschule Kassel. From 2000 to 2007 he is professor of painting at the Staatliche Kunstakademie in Karlsruhe. Following the invitation from, among others, the Museum Ludwig, Cologne and the Museum of Modern Art, Frankfurt am Main, he curated exhibitions with works by other artists, contemporaries and classics. In 2005, Umberg, whose pictures are also shown in Milan, London, New York and Tokyo, was awarded the Fred Thiele Prize for Painting in Berlin.
The exhibition opening takes place at the gallery and Kunst Lager Haas.