German / English
André Butzer has been known for roughly executed figure paintings in a style he once labeled sci-fi expressionism. This book highlights his recent black-and-white colorfield paintings that explore two anti-geometrical rectangles and their balancing act between movement and stagnation. With two essays by fellow artists and a lengthy exchange with Butzer himself, the complete inner workings of this shift toward an anti-geometric orthogonality are explored in sympathetic detail on nuanced full color plates.
ROUNDNESS: A DISCUSSION OF PAINTING (excerpt)
Part 1: The Number
André Butzer: The holiness of the pictorial field is connected to a measurement. Is that true, and if so, how do you measure it?
Daniel Mendel-Black: I’m not looking for a mathematical answer such as the Golden Ratio. The solution probably isn’t 1.6180339887 . . . Pythagoras, Euclid, Leonardo of Pisa, Kepler, and many others tried to quantify beauty, to discover a secret universal formula in numbers. Neither, as with the Golden Mean, do I search out the answer in ideology. I doubt that beauty is somehow located in the perfect balance of moral extremes, that the place where ethics and aesthetics touch is in any way average. These philosophical belief systems may provide elements of truth, certain clues, directions to pursue, others less fruitful to avoid, but they alone cannot contain the whole answer.
AB: That’s right. These numbers are wrong and don’t exist. Though I myself believe in the holy thing. So there is a number in terms of a relation, but unknown. It’s just something very close to the holy thing. It says: here I am, I can’t be counted.
DMB: Newton’s devotion to the discovery of the Philosopher’s Stone is a good example. He spent hours on end locked away in his dark dormitory experimenting with alchemy. Then, one day, he dons his powdered wig (the fashion of the day) and emerges into the light of morning with the manuscript of Mathematical Principals of Natural Philosophy tucked under his arm, miraculously reintegrated into his academic community—except in one key regard: he refused to take the holy orders. Why? Because he rejected the trinity. He was apparently pretty sure the secret number wasn’t 3. Perhaps I am less concerned with which number than I am with the notion that, whatever it is, it declares itself, insists on its existence.
AB: I don’t know anything about existence. For me, it’s a dream. I have to destroy only. I have destroyed the Readymade. We paint for churches only.
Every painting destroys endlessly anything else. I am alone and I can see a proportion of light. We are half man, half god, or no one. We cannot create. I wait for the holy thing, and I have seen it already in perspective.