Rauchzeichen / Smoke Signals
Solo show – Nurnberg, Germany
March 10 – April 17, 2016
Like clouds passing through an empty sky or the flickering images on a white cinema screen, Micha Patiniott’s “Smoke Signals” deal with the fleeting, ever-changing nature of form, versus the eternal stillness of the empty canvas.According to Patiniott, any meaning found through form is elusive and transitory. This ultimately points to its origin and end: the absence or transcendence of meaning itself. The human mind, whose function is to fix meanings to objects, may regard this as absurd or slightly terrifying – but can also feel attracted to it, as to a freeing space of open-endedness.
The paintings in ‘Smoke Signals’ concentrate on these in-between moments. The apparent subject is often the sensory aspect of (the) painting(s). Human figures and anthropomorphised objects can be seen to investigate their surroundings and each other, by means of touch and sight. The figurative happily swirls towards abstraction and vice-versa. Patiniott shows how formal elements – material, composition, shadow, light, shape, and format – induce relationships that either prove or debunk an image’s representational and illusionary meaning. Also on a narrative level, the content of the images vibrates between different possibilities, often opposing ones. Laced with humour, playfulness and sometimes barely concealed violence, the works declare ‘all that is, can always be different.’Visual motifs recur, sometimes in the same context or even as a duplicate – for example in the work “Incredulity” (2013), where a digital drawing functions as a slightly altered double, next to a painting of the same scene, executed in oil on canvas. The repetition of motives that spans the body of work include the empty background, the lamp, the eye, the hand, and the ink-loaded brush or pen. A predominant motive is that of the canvas / picture-frame. Many paintings behave like nested dolls: their content seems self-aware of being a painting, and thus depicts itself within itself.
This happens both formally, by playing with grids and frames-within-frames as a structuring device, and narratively, by depicting human-like canvasses that are engrossed in cartoonesque scenes. An empty canvas with arms and legs that is being stretched and tortured on a medieval breaking wheel, while the wheel is indeed breaking (“Breaking Wheel”, 2014), a curved canvas floating through the air like a saddle without a horse or a giddy ghost (“Saddle Up! 2014), a single canvas standing in a dark space, its ‘body’ curved and bound with straps resembling a straightjacket and the letter C (“C for Canvas, 2014).In the painting “Index” (2015), an androgynous person is depicted holding up a bare canvas. The shape of his outstretched arms makes a frame reminiscent of painting stretcher bars – one of his arms has an unnatural extra joint. The shape and colors of his surroundings, some of them dark and some of them airy, are mapped like a jigsaw-puzzle, also literally framing the body. While one eye is covered by a wisp of hair, the other intently looks at the blank canvas. From the back, his index-finger pokes through the canvas, almost touching the eye. The content of “Index” hinges on the invisible point of concentration, right between the gaze and the touch. It is as if the work expresses a curiosity to see if it can step beyond the confines of its own inquiry, resulting in an indefinable blank spot. This single point of origin finds its visible counterpoint in the multiplicity of black spots that are painted around the image as a whole: the suggestion of little nails in a stretched canvas.