Museums show the imperishable or what they think is imperishable, galleries show what sells, and art associations show what no one else wants to have. On the other hand, it is difficult to define the mandate of a municipal gallery in a public building. It is somewhere between decoration, entertainment, willingness to compromise, training of taste, duty to inform and sense of mission. The frustration of transience is not insignificant, because where - except perhaps in a press release - is something left of the effort that artists and organizers put into turning a lot of artwork into an exhibition. There should actually be at least one catalog for each exhibition of works. Since this is not financed, there must be an introductory lecture that gives insight, because we can all see and yet remain blind to what the seen is above all.
This is not a shortcoming of theory-based art since the 20th century, but has always been the case. The smile of the Mona Lisa was never the essence of the work. The essential in Leonardo's art was the sfumato. The essence of a pair of shoes depicted by van Gogh was not this pair of shoes, but their meaning and how he painted them: as Heidegger did. The fact of the black surface was not the essence of a painting by Ad Reinhart. What was essential was the radicality of his contribution within the framework of non-objective art.
The art of Klaus Fabricius has much more than just the visible. After all, prestige already opens up part of this essential. That and the hidden will be our concern now. For example, we see the two paintings
Klaus Fabricius: Rendezvous with hands I and II, 2003 [Transferprint, 26 x 36 cm]
Hands are nothing new to us in themselves. Here they seem to be groping and seeking contact. They are placed isolated in front of a dark background, which naturally emphasizes them. The trident indicates that the hands of several people meet here. Furthermore, the clothing of the forearms is different. The arrangement of the two works is ascending and descending, i.e. seen as a pair they appear arranged like bridges. This could at least be a key to the meaning of the hands, which stand for something connecting. The fact that the gestures are cautious also fits this. The hands are open. We search in vain for a fist, which is also underlined by the title "Rendezvous".
So far so good and from pure observation already a bit more than a dumb identification of hands and end of observation and on to the next picture.
But that is not all. Klaus Fabricius must be trusted with knowledge. He is not only a creative artist, but also a curator of important exhibitions. According to this, he will be familiar with Dürer's work from 1506 "The Twelve-Year-Old Jesus with the Scribes" from the Thyssen - Bornemesza Collection. While there, however, the gouty hands of the zealous scribes form a significant contrast to the youthful, soft hands of Christ, Fabricius focuses on what is unifying, whereby the gesture of giving on the right panel resembles the hand position of Jesus in Dürer's work.
We do not need to go any further here, because the access is now established by itself.
Albrecht Dürer: The twelve year old Jesus among the scribes, 1506
wood; 650 x 800 cm, Lugano, collection Thyssen-Bornemisza
Is the historical quotation now coincidence or does it have method? The question is easily answered when we find further examples in Fabricius' oeuvre. His 2006 version of "Portrait Marat", for example, offers a direct reference to Jaques-Louis David's "Death of Marat" from 1793, but if David stylized Jean-Paul Marat as a political martyr, Fabricius shows a suffering, injured and maltreated person on the verge of death. Torture, murder and death are not suitable for a stylish - exaggerated representation. There is no aesthetics of suffering! Klaus Fabricius makes this obvious with his authentic version.
Klaus Fabricius: Portrait Marat, 2003
[Transferprint, 80 x 80 cm]
Jacques-Louis David: The death of Marat, 1793
Royal Belgian Museum of Art Brüssel
In Fabricius' work "Le Source", on which he had been working since 2003, the work "La Source" by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867) is quoted. The Source, however, has become a television monitor that, painted over in blue, provides a new basis for the Source nymph.
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres: La Source
oil on canvas, 163 x 80 cm, 1856, Musee d'Orsay, Paris
But it would be wrong to see Fabricius as an artist who makes use of historical memory above all else to depict social phenomena. Fabricius makes use of various means. The connection between past and present is one of them. Another is made clear by a work like "Die Verzögerung der Zuversicht" from 2002, which is still called "bomb" on the homepage "fabiart" (www.fabiart.de). Here he has marked the dramatic point of the explosion, the first reaction, the spreading mixture of explosives and blood, in other words, the scenery, which does not correspond to the press photos, but captures the situation that decides exactly between life and death. Even if the marking of this dramatic point has a great tradition that goes back to Gilberti's "Sacrifice of Isaac", Fabricius emancipates himself from all models and shows here the authenticity of being directly affected, and this certainly not least because he depicts the explosion set red on black with down feathers: a shockingly surreal idea.
Klaus Fabricius: Bomb, 2002
[Mixed Media with feather, 55 x 40 cm]
Lorenzo Ghiberti: Sacrifice of Isaac
Bronze 1401, Bargello
In an exhibition that has the scope of a retrospective - there are works on display since the end of the 1980s - in such a thorough exhibition it is appropriate to consider other examples from the artist's oeuvre. An important contribution to the diagnosis of time is derived, for example, from the progressive rock album "Stareless and Bibleblack" by King Crimson, but even more from the works entitled "gaddadavida", a homage to the 1968 hit by Iron Butterfly. The younger ones among us will certainly still remember it:
Klaus Fabricius: Gadadavida I and II, 1988
[Mixed Media with plumb, 240 x 240 cm]
The political conflicts became more massive in 1968, which was also reflected in the music. Especially the West Coast Sound got a new and above all harder form through bands like Spirit, Grateful Dead and Iron Butterfly.
"In A Gadda da Vida" (Jul 68) belongs to the absolute classics of rock music. "In-A-Gada-Da-Vida", means something like "In the garden of life".
During the time of the "Cold War" artists began to rethink their relationship to society. Many now left the territory of self-referential "autonomous" art, which had long since degenerated into a backdrop of bourgeois society.
One of the patrons of this upheaval was John Cage, a student of Arnold Schönberg. As early as 1952, together with the young Robert Rauschenberg, he conducted the first happening-like performances. In the late fifties he taught at the New School for Social Research in New York. George Brecht, Al Hansen, Dick Higgins, Allan Kaprow, George Maciunas studied with him. George Maciunas came to Germany in 1961. Through Nam June Paik he got to know Wolf Vostell and Karlheinz Stockhausen, among others. Thus "Fluxus" was born as a revival of Dadaism. Fluxus is closely connected with music, action and happening.
The practice of Fluxus on the one hand, and the theory of "progressive aesthetics" of the Stuttgart School around Max Bense on the other hand, enabled an artistic development that also included modern recording and presentation techniques. After the interlude of the 1980s, this direction gained importance again and became decidedly political - socio-diagnostic.
While Wolf Vostell was an early example of this, Klaus Fabricius is a current one. He too removes the limits of conventional representation and uses up-to-date form transport media with blackmarket, transfer- and pc-print and pairs them with impact metal, PU foam, leather and wood, with plexiglass, lead, wax and foils. In addition, depending on the theme, once machine-triggered assets or recordings of musical sequences are added. Fabricius remains faithful to collage and assemblage, relying on their immediate effect and using their critical potential to clarify his work's inherent references and messages.
Klaus Fabricius: CHECKSUM 45
1997, mixed media with plumb, 40 x 200 cm
The checksum of 77, 87, and 97 is 45.
1945 = The year of the end of World War II. End of culture?
Beginning of the postwar, which overruns its time.
1977 = Elvis, RAF, Sex Pistols, 1987 = Barschel, Warhol, Hafenstraße
1997 = The 80s October Revolution, Madonna, Matthias in cavity
In the work "Quersumme" from 1997, Fabricius not only formally employs this potential, but also makes it serve a deeply culturally critical content by calling up a kind of "commemorative collage" that recalls the years 45, 77, 87 and 97 and connects with names such as Elvis, Hanns Martin Schleyer, Barschel, Warhol, Madonna and Matthias Hintze. In the title of the work Fabricius refers directly to Vostell's installations and to songs by Bob Dylan.
Now Fabricius's view is not only directed at general social developments, but also with equal seriousness at the individual human being. In "Portrait of a Dream" we encounter a café visitor whose picture is blurred, however, and also contains a fully sculptured stone. The blurred image irritates the viewer, who at first does not know how to classify the scenery. The title of the picture helps to introduce the viewer to the world of appearance instead of reality and induces an associative approach.
Klaus Fabricius: Portrait of a dream, 2003
[Transferprint on stone, 60 x 106 x 12 cm]
The same applies to his series of portraits "open women", begun in 1999, mostly unspectacular introverted intimate or self-confidently demonstrative publications of the female, which range between Madonna and model. Enclosed materials stand for limitation and restriction. Some of those portrayed seem to be settled between melancholy and autism. If we try to encounter them, they give us the feeling of a gothic-looking distance and untouchability.
Klaus Fabricius: Woman's portrait, 1999
[Mixed Media with glass and wood]
Peter Christus: Portrait of a young woman,
In several of his objects - the work "Icarus" is an excellent example of this - in this object, Fabricius has crow feathers springing from a bible in Arabic script. An impressively speaking work, which in turn remains without any missionary zeal.
Klaus Fabricius: Ikarus, 2002
Koran and crow feathers, 15 x 30 x 7 cm
Early works by the artist from 1992 and 1989 - and I mean especially those in the entrance area of our gallery - seem to have been created especially for this exhibition. They mediate between the exterior space with the towering collegiate church and the gallery, which contains Fabricius' painting on the theme of "Cathedral" and shows a Calvary. In large areas and with a pastose application of paint, Fabricius succeeds in demonstrating a significant painterly skill that is in no way inferior to the directness of an Anselm Kiefer. The bow-like structure of "Cathedral" from 1992 in heavy earthy tones gives the work an elementary but dark power and is undoubtedly more a picture of the Inquisition than one of promise. Strange and a pity that the high level of painterly competence of this artist from the mid-90s onwards is barely visible.
Let's try a sum: The special feature of Klaus Fabricius' works lies in the consistency with which he combines his artistic means with his analytical view. He delivers masterpieces of an art engagée that is equally far removed from self-sufficiency and complacency and is committed to an enlightened impetus. What Klaus Fabricius has brought us here are protocols of a sensibility that arises from careful observation and that has its source in the attention to the depicted, and that is almost always the human being. The works of Klaus Fabricius belong formally and contentwise to the best this gallery could show in its more than thirty-year history.