Seeing or thinking, observation or imagination? What is the better basis for what we call reality? For many, our experience with the digital and algorithmic world nourishes the suspicion that reality might be just a construct – and that a decision between perception and ideals might be a difficult one. However, we are not the first ones in dealing with this problem. Already the Italian Renaissance negotiated this dissent under the title disegno vs colore. Drawing as a means to give shape to an ideal (Michelangelo, Sebastiano del Piombo) was the dominant design principle in Florence and Rome. In Venice, on the other hand, a more liberated approach to color, its sensual and space-forming quality dominated (Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese).
The Berlin artist Rainer Splitt (1963) places himself on the side of Venice, on the side of observation, experiment and the emotional power of color. The flow of the paint, its specific shape and spaceforming characteristics are the core of his artistic research. How can paint succeed in painting itself, regardless of any desire for expression and independent of a prefigured idea? What consequences does this have for our expectations of the image?
Splitt pours the paint onto the surface, uplifts the pictural plane and lets the paint run vertically: Expansion, coherence and gravity form an astonishingly precise form, a colorful disegno that paradoxically reverses our expectation on how liquids move and our idea of a drop. On reflective surfaces, the color deletes the environment reflected in the image – on reflecting paint we recognize our colored self in the poured shape. Thus the viewer is not just a part of the picture; the image becomes a reflection level of one’s own perception.
The exhibition confronts Splitt’s latest large-format pourings with the work of a 17th century Veronese scholar. In this one easily recognizable: the first attempts of reversing the dictate of form over color – parallel to it Splitt: Disegno not as colored idea but as comprehensible shape of the colors gravity.