arnulf letto, born in berlin in 1932, trained as a typeface designer between 1948 and 1951. studied painting at the berlin academy of fine arts between 1951 and 1957, as a student of professors hans uhlmann, emil schumacher and alexander camaro. master-class student. max beckmann scholarship. from 1956, paintings using constructive design principles, from 1960, reduction of forms to evenly arranged rectangular and square subdivisions, "exclusion of colour, discovery of grey values". from 1965, paintings with false convexities, from 1969, reliefs with shades of grey in rotation. from 1972, static reliefs in shades of grey.
in 1974, first white relief in rotation, generating grey values. from 1975, static white reliefs generating grey values.
from 1978, reversal of monochrome and coloured reliefs, curved and plane surfaces.
from 1994, shadow boxes, shadow catchers, perceptual permutation of open and closed surfaces. "air seen as matter, matter seen as air." dates as proof of thoughts, trying, wishing, failing, substitute for finished products.
in his view, these thoughts and visions have been there from the very beginning. air seen as matter, a dandelion, an envelope of deep water as solid ice, deep vs shallow, dark vs light. observing that the deeper our insight into the "real", the more wonder becomes possible. he has time to spare for wonder, for happiness about the new things, that continue to come his way during his experiments.
he only works in white and black and knows, there is no absolute white or black, there is always colour in them.
in his 26 shades of grey, so far, there is matter enough for colour contrasts, encouraging him to have the slight convexities or concavities, created in his reliefs beforehand, become planer, in different grades. during the process of painting, he tries to transform plane surfaces into delicate, three-dimensional reliefs, working with light and shadow, but rather erasing them, "painting against the light", than, as would be common, using them for intensification.
wanting the unreal, turning the world upside down, he says, to offer deeper insight, knowing at the same time, that, seeing with our eyes, feeling warm and cold, dry and damp, we know, while the sun is setting, that there is no above and no below, that the world is already upside down, that we live on a globe … when asked to describe his art, he refers to reduction, he also says that it's been enough now, that he has reached his aim, that he's old now. his intellect insinuats this prejudice to him. the joy when he gets up and goes to work with the aim to create something new, when yet something different, something he did not know about, emerges, all this will dissolve this prejudice.
julius stahl was taken by surprise by our invitation to arrange a joint exhibition with arnulf letto, and was delighted.
he only knows a small number of letto's works, he's excited, realises the tentative and surprising transition between realities in paintings and objects, from light to dark, from concave to convex, from internal to external, intentionally provoked, not adhering to any laws, not even those of op art. they haven't met in person, fingers crossed they will like each other.
julius stahl, born in witten, north rhine-westphalia, in 1978, studied at the technical university of berlin between 2001 and 2008, and at the university of the arts. he is the recipient of numerous awards and grants, taking on functions in the fields of music, electroacoustics, philosophy, and fine arts. between 2001 and 2006, he was busy composing electroacoustic music, which eventually turned into an interest in visualising sound, aware of that which had been achieved by other artists or architects in the field, for instance, in his work for the john cage foundation.
"my acoustic raw materials," he writes, "are the pure, or sine tone and white noise. by definition, the sine tone embodies the concept of motion. comprising, almost simultaneously, the entire range of audible frequencies, white noise is in direct contrast." julius stahl creates acoustic instruments whose resonance is visible in the form of vibration, whose sounds, however, are inaudible, as they resonate in frequencies too high or too low for the human ear to perceive (as opposed to bat's ears). for instance, in the object "feld V", where hundreds of thin wire rods of different lengths inserted in the large surface area of the object vibrate, forming a kinetic object. concerning his craftsmanship: he had to build himself a mobile sliding bed so as to be able to glide above this surface, inserting and tuning.
in a new series of works, using a self-developed drawing device, he captures these vibrations in the form of vibrating lines, transferring them to photographic paper in the darkroom. "photograms".
on the other hand, he creates reliefs that seem to be chaotically refracted, resulting in "white noise" in the object entitled "fragment". several light drawings of pure tones (bats again). "phonographs".
one might think he's going to great lengths, he's mad, if it weren't for those large, distinctly visible, subtle "sound" reliefs, "sound" cubes, spaces that you may enter, walls of "sound", that create zones. "sound" drawings, photograms and, in turn, light surfaces, that picture resonances, "luminograms". and all this "silent".
john cage contradicts rauschenberg, your white paintings are not, in fact, empty, silent, devoid of form, but serve as "mirrors of the air" and "airports for the lights, shadows, and particles."