2011 Trio 3 3 parts
Trio 2 3 parts
Trio 1 3 parts
Duo 6 2 parts
Duo 4 2 parts
Duo 5 2 parts
Duo 3 2 parts
2010 Duo 2 2 parts
Duo 1 2 parts
Cirrus 3 parts
T 4.02
T 4.01
2009 odore aspergere II 4 parts
odore aspergere I 3 parts
T 4
T 4.3.
T 4.2
T 4.1

Introduction to ‘low lrequency’

Galerie im Turm

Opening March 17 2011, 8 pm

There’s a big difference between Sabine Laidig’s work and the work of the other artists from Berlin, greater Germany, and around the world who have previously been shown at this gallery. Upon entering the gallery, many might say that they see nothing. I’d like to try to make this “nothing”—the art of Sabine Laidig—a bit more visible.

Sabine Laidig’s work from 2009 and 2010 is exhibited at the Galerie im Turm; this is only the second time her work has been shown in Berlin. Last year, she showed a temporary mural and a few large canvases in the ground floor gallery, together with works by Susanne Fleischhacker. Born in 1960 in Sindelfingen, Laidig studied in Stuttgart and Frankfurt. In 1989-99 she taught in Ludwigsburg, since 1997 in Trier, and in 2005 in Greifswald and Rostock. In 1997-98 she completed post-graduate study in Japanology, including a six-month course of study in Japan, which was very important to the further development of her art. It should not go unmentioned that Sabine Laidig has won many prizes and competitions in the field of architectural and site-specific art, including a piece installed in the parliament building of Liechtenstein in 2008/9.

What is on display here is something special, but it will only emerge if we look closely and with concentration, if we engage “meditatively” with these drawings. Sabine Laidig has succeeded in interconnecting “rationality and intuition,” bringing them equally into play. Laidig’s process occurs in a state of the highest concentration, in a meditative mood, which is then transferred to the viewer. Here the artist’s experiences in Japan are transformed into creative output. The time that she spends on these works is preserved in them, and they merit at least a fraction of that amount of time in attentive inspection and contemplation.

Delicate, thin lines drawn with pigment pens or with ink overlay the white of the paper in strict parallels, forming a grid of small squares. Laidig titles the first series odore aspergere (floating scent/mist). This series is comprised of seven pieces, each with an orange grid drawn with pigment pen on handmade Hahnemühle paper (located on the entrance wall). In the first piece, the lines form 2 mm squares, in the third, 3 mm squares, etc., in a 1 mm progression up to 8 mm in the final piece of the series. The full effect of a progression from piece to piece unfolds only upon concentrated viewing. An intellectual-abstract dialogue arises between the subtle coloring and the blinding brightness of the white paper or canvas. The tiny orange squares of the grid form a 25 x 25 cm square within the 40 x 40 cm paper square; this larger square seems to float like an orange mist on the empty paper which borders it. A further level of dialogue arises from the logic and severity of the composition and from the sensuous impression created by the whole. Here a conversation develops between the artwork and the viewer.

The second series is called cirrus and consists of three pieces made of stiff vellum (each 70 x 70 cm) and gray-blue ink (exhibited on the back wall). Here the pattern is built of 2.5 cm squares. In the first piece, the small squares compose a larger square of 12 x 12 blocks with a distance of 2 cm between them. In the second, the larger square is 11 x 11 with 2.5 cm gaps, and in the third, 10 x10 with 3 cm gaps. An 8 cm-wide strip of white paper is left blank around each piece. This white border makes the grids look like cirrus clouds which seem to hover over the white of the paper.

I provide very precise dimensions because they are precisely calculated in order to create the desired effect. The pieces depend on these careful calculations in the planning stage and on careful measurement in the execution.

After extended viewing, after letting oneself enter into what appears to be NOTHING, the drawings, as well as the paintings, seem to shine, to exude light. In spite of the works’ apparent colorlessness, the tones of light grey-blue or bright orange, and of yellowish-, reddish-, or cool bluish-white, barely perceptible against the white of the canvas, nonetheless reflect outward. In this way a space of light develops between the color-surface on the paper or canvas and the eye (retina) of the viewer.

This vibration and movement, the forward and backward movement of the pattern, the frequency of light, causes the viewer’s eye to oscillate, if she or he allows it to. Here, as in all of Laidig’s works, the lighting of the room is very important: how light strikes the artworks, whether they are viewed by daylight or artificial light. Depending on the light, the drawings and canvases create different impressions, which are constantly changing, new, and surprising.

With the simplest media—a prepared surface measured in the required millimeter intervals, a ruler and a pigment pen or calligraphy pen and ink, and the fewest possible colors (as shown in the previous examples)—the artist draws these patterns. Laidig’s ability to create light, space, and depth on the paper seems mysterious, but she has, as already mentioned, carefully calculated the effect, and the successful result depends on many previous trials and experiments. Many test series are necessary to achieve the best illuminative quality on paper. Calculations and experiments make Laidig’s works interesting and lead to surprising possibilities.

It is amazing that the reduction to JUST linear constructions, to a seemingly tension-less flow without expression or phrasing, to simple networks of parallel lines and square patterns can call forth a light, barely perceptible vibrato, as from a violin. This breath, this pulsation, can be sensed and observed—what the artist names “low frequency” is perceived by the viewer also as a high frequency. The network of lines seems to float lightly over the structure of the paper. The space-between, the calculated intervals or, if you will, the long or short pauses in the totality of the image are given the same importance. It is the lines/squares and the intervals together which achieve the desired balance. A rhythm is inherent in both motifs—the squares and the grid-compositions—which conveys a high musicality which the viewer can hear and feel perhaps more than see. Without a doubt, Sabine Laidig’s works lead to an increased “differentiation of perception.”

The three works in acrylic on canvas (all 180 cm x 180 cm) from 2009 were developed from Laidig’s favored motif of the meander, formed from tiny square color-fields, which structure the canvas in logical, measurable regularity and create a tension that seems to lift the shapes from the white background. The meander motif continually forms itself anew from the restless structures of the carefully measured small squares, which seem to shimmer and whir, and the empty spaces that form between them on the canvas. Sabine Laidig calculates sizes and distances very precisely with a computer, from which she has templates made which she uses like stencils to transfer the shapes to the canvas. With white and slight coloring, she then causes these shapes to glow. The arrangements of squares seen in this exhibition, which extend right to the edge of the canvas, exude more quietude and peace than the previous meander compositions. These arrangements of 2.5 x 2.5 cm squares create diagonals, visual passages, crystals, rhomboids, and free spaces. The alternation of squares that are filled in with up to seven coats of white or slightly colored paint and those that are simply outlined with grey-blue pigment pen develops reflections of light and color against the white-primed canvas. The barely perceptible delicate yellowish, reddish, or blueish tonality of the white-primed canvas develops only with distance and according to the outward lighting. Only with distance does the viewer realize that a gently colored light shines out from the painting, creating an oscillating light-space which makes the canvas seem “flooded” with light.

Here too there is a rhythm of squares which move forward and backward; when one observes the color-filled squares and those that are “only” outlined, a feeling of space and the aforementioned richness of light is created.

Sabine Laidig’s works on paper and canvas thus necessitate a contemplative perception. They demand a variation of viewing perspectives, from the greatest possible distance to the closest physical proximity. Only in this way is it possible to truly take in the tiny oscillations in the light-space of her works. Each piece is based on a precisely conceived and calculated concept, on precise dimensions which continue to compel Sabine Laidig towards new artistic choices, whether in the exactly computed interplay of lines of color or in the placement of a planned rhythmic order of squares. Her drawings are permutations of a pure idea. She works in series, in episodes, in order to vary and modify the motifs of square and line. Each work leads to the next. All the works are drawn flat on a table, and the chosen colors determine the “light frequencies,” the movement, the rhythm of light and space in drawing and painting.

Although Sabine Laidig has found her own mode of expression, she is nonetheless part of the tradition of concrete art, conceptual art, and minimalist art, in which the “Typologization of Imagery” (Stefan Gronert) was developed (Agnes Martin, Hanne Darboven, Roman Opalka, Robert Ryman, Rudolf de Crignis, and, in Berlin, Horst Bartnig, et al).

Without mathematics, without a underlying basis of rules and regularity, the aesthetic of her works and this visual effect is impossible and unimaginable.

Above all, I hope this exhibition will have attentive and thoughtful viewers!