press release

21 January—12 March 2022

a proposition by christian herdeg

galerie lange + pult is pleased to present the group exhibition “licht”, conceived by Christian Herdeg, in our Zurich gallery spaces. Herdeg has selected a series of artists whose distinctive formal language, shine a unique iconography. Light shapes us. Like hardly any other medium, electric light has conquered our lives, taking over, and changing all areas of our everyday lives. In the middle of the last century, electric light established itself as an art genre, which has been constantly evolving ever since. In the exhibition “licht”, light art pioneers and younger representatives of the genre with works made of neon tubes, incandescent bulbs and black light transform the Galerie Lange + Pult into a luminous sea of color and illustrate the elemental attraction of the medium of light. The works of Christian Herdeg and John Armleder oscillate between function and impression, staging the optical properties of light and its sensual experience with large format colored light fields and basic geometric forms. Sylvie Fleury, Gina Proenza, David Renggli deal with the medium of writing, which becomes three-dimensional through light, acquires a spatial reference and thus gains expressiveness. Writing, light and space mutually intensify the staging of the socio-politically critical or playfully ironic statements. Interested in using fragmented text as an artistic medium, Chryssa found neon tubing the ideal artistic vehicle for blending her ideas around text, color, and light. Bob Gramsma documents spaces that once were, and that no longer are. He engages with space and how we move through it to imagine alternate histories. Gramsma often uses the labor of building and construction to make striking traces of the landscape. He is interested in creating works that riff off the materials of the sites they inhabit, creating sedimentary traces of production and artistic action that enable an opening between the present and the forgotten past. Jan Van Munster’s work often consists of only a single line. Sometimes that line undulates, at times she shoots diagonally upward like an arrow, at other times she forms circles. The lines light up in color: they are built up of neon tubes. The blue and green colors, and the clear lines give the works its remarkably pictural and aesthetic quality. In the work of Mathieu Mercier, who unlike the other artists does not use neon for its material properties, the neon tube is only recognizable as such at second glance, as it visually gives the impression of having been spontaneously wound around its holder like a soft working material.

Materiality also becomes important in the work of lighting pioneer Keith Sonnier – an interplay of copper and Plexiglas, aluminum and neon beguiles with diffuse, indirect light. For Olivier Mosset, purely externally, the object is reminiscent of a modern, common indirect light source. However, the colorfulness of the light corresponding to the surface painting transfers the idea to another level. It is no longer primarily a “utility lamp” that is used as a light source; rather, it has become a light object. In the process, the objects are questioned according to their colorfulness. Based on the intentions of a painter, the surfaces of the light boxes with their pigment colors are juxtaposed with the colorfulness of the light. This results in new and interesting perspectives, and the different coloring of each of the five objects has created a unique piece.

As a mathematician, Waltraut Cooper comes from a background in which technology plays a major role. Technological aspects have always fascinated her. Based on the series “Digital Poetry”, which she was able to develop for the Venice Biennale 1986, Cooper translated the initials of Lange to become the starting point and content of the design. The P of Pult was digitized, assigned a five-digit sequence of zeros and ones, and the put into the respective colors. Blue for 0 and green for 1. Thus a transformation from word to number and aesthetic object is being achieved.

Through diary entries, abstract paintings, and artisanal objects, Mai-Thu Perret constructs a piecemeal narrative describing life at the commune. By focusing on the fragment as a narrative device, Perret invokes the pastiche technique employed in postmodern literature and demonstrates her interest in the structure of language.

More than an archeologist, Mai-Thu Perret not only excavate elements of modernism but also reinscribes them in our present, giving them the role of narrative clutches at the disposal of the audience.

Whether aesthetic, provocative, playful, or abstract – light art made of artificial light embraces the appeal of the medium. Through the use of artificial light, it has transferred color into a new dimension: Color becomes spatially tangible, color becomes immaterial.