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Review by C. Martin Schmid

Jean-Christophe Ammann calls man a time-binder. Time is stored in works of art and kept in the museum as a collective memory. A temporal dimension can also be seen in works by Klaus Fabricius, in particular in a pictorial sign, a slightly swelling, acute-angled triangle with an oblique base, which appears in pictures bearing the title 'Cathedral'. The cathedral refers to past times, but these are not taken up as sentimental memories, rather they are examined in terms of their current effectiveness. Various ideas and interpretations accumulate on the cathedral over time, which are concentrated and made present in the pictorial sign. Through this overload of interpretive possibilities, the cathedral eludes definition. The relationship between the pictorial sign of the cathedral and the multitude of meanings that the cathedral brings with it can no longer even be determined as an ambiguous one. Rather, the cathedral stands for the idea of the mutability of knowledge and the dissolution of an ultimate judgment.

In an older work by Klaus Fabricius, a cathedral appears as the central element of the left half of the picture. It is juxtaposed with a restless surface created from many small forms. If one recognizes the pointed individual forms of the right half of the picture as flames, which, by the way, also occur more frequently in the pictures of Klaus Fabricius, also in combination with cathedrals, then an interpretation corresponding to the cathedrals is obvious. For flames, too, elude access both in material and functional terms. As pictorial symbols, however, the flames refer to the suspension of the fixed.

Despite the fact that the theme is how ideas and insights elude definition, it is precisely this that is defined in the image. In the picture, the suspended state of the unclarifiable remainder becomes visible. Thus, viewed from a distance, the picture appears as a sign claiming general validity for a certain idea, eliminating the artist as producer. If one approaches the picture more closely, however, traces of its production become apparent: brush marks, corrections, and scrapings. The picture reveals itself as something made. The absolute claim of the distant view is withdrawn.

Thus, especially the way of making and the choice of material refer to the relativization of the supposedly fixed. The flame tongues cut from rolled lead take on a certain changeability in the picture. The lighting changes the effect of the surface structure in the play of light and shadow. The polyurethane foam used on the left half of the picture has another aspect of changeability. This is evident not only in the slight bulging of the paper ceiling, which yields to the pressure of the foam layer behind it, but above all in the cathedral spilling out of the picture surface. The polyurethane foam, while used purposefully, keeps pushing beyond its limits. The momentum of the foaming must be constantly tamed and contained. Only after some time, with the solidification of the foam, which is then only lightly reworked, does a pictorial sign emerge that contains the idea of an incalculable remainder, of something that cannot be fully grasped in thought.

The approach to the theme of the unfixable, albeit from a different direction, is also evident in Klaus Fabricius' photo and material montages. While a pictorial sign developed from history dominates the cathedral pictures, found objects are used in the mounted images: Wooden boards, iron sheets, or pieces of rust are associated with images copied onto transparent film. Both the materials and the copied images, most of which emerge from photographic images, bring with them a history that is unique to each. The materials show traces of use and decay, the photographs refer to the real world that existed at the moment they were taken. However, this authenticity is broken up. The copied images are alienated by a strong raster, by blurring and by their cropping. They reveal themselves as an image of an already existing image. And they are mounted in new contexts. In this way, the found images are freed from their own history and released into a neutrality that makes it possible to fill the images with new stories. Photography as an image of reality eludes its definition.

While in the cathedral pictures historical accretions are concentrated in an abstract pictorial sign, the found object montages go the opposite way: concrete pictures get rid of their original meaning. Both means of expression lead to a liberation of the image, which manages to make the viewer look beyond his existing ideas.

Klaus Fabricius' pictures arise from looking at them, without resorting to preceding, linguistically formulated concepts. Nevertheless, his pictures are carried by a fundamental idea, the questionability of knowledge of the world and its ultimate intangibility.