02 November 2014 -
31 January 2015

Above the Surface

Martin Werthmann

Above the Surface

Martin Werthmann’s prints and his installation "Sink" captivate the viewer with their unique dimensions and by virtue of the fact that they are often produced on a very large scale. They immerse the viewer in sometimes physical experiences, offering new ways of seeing, living, and thinking about the world.

Martin Werthmann is a German artist born in 1982, who mainly creates very large-scale prints. His work follows the long German tradition of woodcuts that began with Albrecht Dürer and was taken up by the Expressionists of the Die Brücke group before reappearing in the work of contemporary artists such as Anselm Kiefer or Gerd and Uwe Tobias. Martin Werthmann's expansive multicolored and multi-layered prints express the semiotic character of everything in the world. These prints surprise the viewer, not because they conceal a hidden message that is waiting to be discovered, but because they open up a polymorphous space for reflection that is concretised by the viewer through a personal dialogue with the work of art.

The special appeal of Martin Werthmann's works is the result of the anachronism of his juxtapositions. There are ornamental elements, often inspired by watery reflections, onto which vegetal, carnal or architectural designs are ironically superimposed, resulting in an emotionally charged effect that leaves the viewer with a fascinating sensation of attraction/repulsion. This dynamic is reinforced by the alternating layers. The colour play and the structure of the surface contribute to the narrative expression of the work. Martin Werthmann’s prints break the established conventions of figurative representation and lexical discourse in order to destabilize the viewer, forcing us to experience the world differently.

This feeling of destabilization and the possibility of a new physical experience is also very present in Martin Werthmann’s installation, "Sink [1]" (2014; wood, rubber, pumps; 400x600x600cm). The viewer is invited to climb into the heart of a giant whirlpool that circulates 17,000 litres per minute, giving the impression of being both invincible and on the verge of being sucked into the heart of the earth. The somewhat ironic title contrasts with this existential, almost mythological experience, which in natural conditions would certainly be fatal. At the same time, this installation represents the will of mankind to master the forces of nature by reproducing the sensations of a catastrophic experience while removing its destructive powers.

Frederike Lagoni