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Telling Stories in 3 Dimensions: Art Today


Long before the recent movie Twelve Years a Slave earned high praise for dispensing with the Hollywood stereotypes of lovable masters and cheerful field hands, Kara Walker’s videos, cut-paper silhouettes, and installations zeroed in on an antebellum South of casual violence and unspeakable savagery.

We’re also Santa Claus! And yet you haven’t said what I told you to say! How can any of us trust you? Hey, whatcha watching? I decline the title of Iron Cook and accept the lesser title of Zinc Saucier, which I just made up. Uhh… also, comes with double prize money. Kids have names?

Come, Comrade Bender! We must take to the streets! Leela, Bender, we’re going grave robbing. Hey, you add a one and two zeros to that or we walk! That could be ‘my’ beautiful soul sitting naked on a couch. If I could just learn to play this stupid thing. You know, I was God once. Ummm…to eBay?

Hello, little man. I will destroy you! Check it out, y’all. Everyone who was invited is here. I barely knew Philip, but as a clergyman I have no problem telling his most intimate friends all about him. As an interesting side note, as a head without a body, I envy the dead.

Well, then good news! It’s a suppository. Is today’s hectic lifestyle making you tense and impatient? Shut up and take my money! Tell them I hate them.

Interesting. No, wait, the other thing: tedious. These old Doomsday Devices are dangerously unstable. I’ll rest easier not knowing where they are. The key to victory is discipline, and that means a well made bed. You will practice until you can make your bed in your sleep. Man, I’m sore all over. I feel like I just went ten rounds with mighty Thor.

Starting in the early eighties, right after the big wave of the New Expressionism, Mathes, born 1957, has an immediate attention for the logical element in a painting that is nevertheless extremely powerful and vibrating. The oldest piece on show (Das Dorf, 1982) burns a country village in black and red fire, but each movement is geometrically controlled and “fire” is clearly “only” a gestural pattern of yellow and red.

It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.

Mathes starts building “partitures” that will play an important role in his whole production. (Partitur (Gelaender), 1983), a work in 5 parts, is a bright example in yellow, black and white, with a playful mixture of techniques that build a language made of forms, a language that speaks to us even if we don’t know the meaning of it. It’s an interesting paradigm of the artists’ play with logical thinking. He plays with logic.
Many experiments and research with space, sculptural combinations, during the eighties, lead us to reliefs, explosions of painting-sculpture that walk in the space (Happy Cosmos, 1986) leaving colored dots in the multifaceted experience of the viewer.
Bertold Mathes spends then some years in Palermo, Sicily, the chaotic potpourri of Byzantine, Arabic, Normand culture and Sicilian disorder “all mixed up together in a bucket, with the eggs on top” (Monthy Python)
and what happens?
He becomes orderly.

Nikos KalyvasTelling Stories in 3 Dimensions: Art Today

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