The ability to establish new frameworks of interpretation through a refined manipulation of form which serves to liberate the object of its definitude and traditional raison d’être places Michael Sailstorfer at the very forefront of a new generation of concept and installation artists in Germany today.
In addition to the conventional materials he is acquainted with as a renowned sculptor, Sailstorfer employs both sound and scent as well as the medium of time, synthesizing dimension with deformation to produce arresting works which never fail to stimulate the whims of the imagination. Ambiguous and light-hearted, his work at times conveys mischievous wit, at others expressive impact, producing without exception a state of semantic suspense – a sense of transformation that transcends category, an atmosphere of perpetual astonishment.
His creative process itself is no less experimental. Beginning with a powerful concept, Sailstorfer transforms his idea by hand, testing the limits of the imaginable while working both with as well as against the force of gravity. At times the artist’s brush is the flex grinder, at others the welding torch or his own hands. Set against the sheer dimension of his projects, Sailstorfer’s physical approach lends his work a human touch unintimidated by even the most absurd idea.
The artist has now produced a series of works exclusively for Perrotin New York: Bridging the traditional chasm that divides the internal from the tangible external, he employs a teardrop analogy to strip naked the most extreme states of the human mind.
Neither innocuous nor innocent, the art objects depicted in his video work “TEARS” reduce a home in the town of Spessart to rubble and stone. Here teardrop-shaped iron wrecking balls weighing two tons each hammer down onto the roof of a German farmhouse at a disturbingly slow pace.
At the gallery entrance, the installation “COWBOY’S TEAR 2” seems to interrupt a flowing train of tears and almost threatens to ‘lasso’ us into the exhibition.
In “SALT”, three teardrop-shaped blocks of salt dissolve into the returning tide on a distant Norwegian shore. Their surrender to the elements is
transmitted live via projection into the Perrotin gallery space, offering a playful testimony to the transitory nature of existence.
In the “HEAVY TEAR PAINTINGS” series, Sailstorfer uses lipstick as a medium to transfer the enigmatic form onto a lead surface. The ultimate symbol of emotional expression, the teardrop merges chemically with the metal surface that serves as the artist’s canvas.
The installation piece “TEAR PRESS” is actually a hydraulic machine. Hydraulics, originally the study of liquid flow behaviour, are employed here to press teardrop-shaped coal briquettes destined for a “TTV” furnace in the form of a television set with a bronze chimney. The final work is no less complex than the idea behind it, which parallels the lost and obsolete nature of emotional experience in a rationalized and systematic world with that of a bleak industrial process of solidi cation.
As leitmotif of the exhibition, the teardrop and its tragic monopoly on human existence provide a corporeal symbol of passage, one which illuminates the themes of transience and the existential possibility of transformation – motifs that once again underscore the bold diversity and creativity of Michael Sailstorfer ́s work.
Frank SteinhoferView of the exhibition “Tear Show” at Perrotin New York. March 2 – April 13, 2019. © Courtesy of the artist & Perrotin. Photo: Guillaume Ziccarelli