Brandishing chemical reactions and painterly gestures, Berlin-based artist Daniel Lergon creates intriguing metallic canvases through scientific processes of his own design. At the crux of his works—abstract water-on-metal-on-canvas paintings—is the application of acidified water to metal, which induces oxidation and results in dynamic surface patterns and color changes that range from subtle to striking. This December, visitors to NADA Miami Beach are treated to a selection of Lergon’s newest works, presented by Cologne’s Galerie Christian Lethert.
Lergon, who has been experimenting with these techniques for several years, manipulates variables by using light-sensitive materials or chemically charged surfaces in his paintings. The resulting works range from reddish copper plates with grey or green oxide stains to zinc plates that are entirely in grayscale. “Now instead of a physical modulation of light—as in the paintings in which a transparent varnish is painted on a light-sensitive fabric, colour is created and the disturbance of the surface is achieved in a chemical manner, through oxidation,” the artist explains.
The copper series stands out for its color contrast and composition, and for the complex layering involved. Because of the metal undertones in these works, the pieces have an otherworldly, futuristic feel to them. Untitled (copper) (2014), for example, presents a rich copper foundation, on which Lergon has applied a dynamic twisting series of brushstrokes which evidence the chemicals employed through the range of green and icy blue passages of color. Speckles emanate from the painting’s main swishing arc, evidencing splashing chemicals and rapid movement. In the zinc works, like Untitled (zinc) (2014), the limited range in color results in a focus on contrasts of light and dark and the interplay of marks made by chemical versus those born from the artist’s hand.
Lergon has been working prodigiously over the last eight years, putting forth over 20 unified projects, reimagining an alternative means of creating paintings for virtually every series. Though he has no formal scientific training, Lergon has always been interested in science, and wants to convey themes of interconnectivity in the universe in his work. Considered to be a “painter who doesn’t use paint,” Lergon has made truly transformative work using a process that is entirely his own.
Visit Galerie Christian Lethert at NADA Miami Beach 2014, Booth 2.61, Dec. 4–7.
May 4–8, 2018, Park Avenue Armory