Wolfram Ullrich thirty years of career at MARCA Catanzaro
Museum MARCA of Catanzaro from 1 December 2018 to 27 January 2019 presents “Coordinate e Convergenze” curated by Alberto Zanchetta, an exhibition that traces thirty years of career of the German artist Wolfram Ullrich. Through historical works from the 80s to the most recent productions, the exhibition describes the characteristics of his research.
Wolfram Ullrich in his studio
His creations appear like wall sculptures, even though Ullrich calls himself a “painter” and not a “sculptor,” which play with perspective, polygons that float and appear immersed in a deep space, thanks to the use of intensely colored areas.
His works are literally built by assembling different parts, in a process unlike sculpture, where the artist takes away.
Depending on the viewer’s position the works bend, become soft, fold into tight slits of shadow. Ullrich’s work relates not only with the viewer’s eye, but also with the space and with the movements of visitors inside this space, treating both as dynamic variables.
One of the characteristics of the German artist’s work is the use of matt color. Ullrich’s color sign animates the surface of the wall by leaving living presences on it. The color becomes concrete and three-dimensional form, establishing the works in spatial extensions, to the edge of the installation.
Artist’s studio in Stuttgard
Around the mid-1980s, Ullrich’s practice began to focus on a rational geometric structure that is not merely intellectual. During this time his series Holzobjekte zweiteilig was born, with elements in wood and hard fiber that are then separated by a slender gap. These are simple yet strange geometries that elude all convention or conformism. At the same time he also made the Streifen, rectangles that share a cut from one corner to the other, dividing them into a mirror-like pair.
In the late 1980s, the artist set aside natural materials in favor of iron and steel and chose to focus on the discrepancies between reality, appearance, and perception. During this time he made Relief mit zwei Schnitten, sheets of iron we could liken to irregular trapezoids. The cuts suggest a division of the plane into segments that, despite their two-dimensionality, give the viewer a sense of depth, here accentuated by the oxidized surface. In the 1990s, the artist then added the formal concept of the “relief,” further emphasizing stereometrics and segmentation. The sharp shapes, which at first glance seem to attack the viewer’s safety, extend outward from the walls, suggesting a perspective that splits and fragments the space.
Once again, formal evolution corresponds to technical evolution. In fact, the artist stops shaping iron and instead crafts steel which is treated with color, in pastels or especially intense shades. More specifically, the color seems to lighten, or in any case disguise, the heaviness and stiffness of the material, further complicating the visual trickery of the Faltungen.
Wolfram Ullrich @ MARCA Museum
In addition to working on single pieces, the artist develops polyptychs that allow him to explore the many versions of a single polyhedron. Seen from the front, the individual elements appear similar to the others, but in profile they constantly change: each one stands out for its points of contact with the wall and the sloping parts that protrude into the space.
But there is a substantial difference between the pigmentation of previous decades and the color vibrations of his latest period. The artist uses color like a luminous counterpoint with respect to steel: the surface painted with acrylic, slightly grainy, contrasts with the luminescence generated by the milled edges.
Wolfram Ullrich @ MARCA Museum