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Bernhard Sandfort
Sechzehn und eine Farbe, 1990
Oil on card on plywood
16 parts
308 x 308 cm
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022

Photo: Gerhard Sauer


In Bernhard Sandfort’s sixteen pictures there seems to be neither a beginning nor an end, no centre – and top and bottom, right and left can only be designated on the strength of the outer or inner demarcation of the overall work and of the individual panels. Strips of colour lie on top of each other like Pick-Up Sticks, dominating the surface and penetrating the space. “In the square network of the colour field irregular rectangles form a weave of apparent spatiality, connections that interact with laws, an abidance by rules and chance”, as Bernhard Sandfort explains. This interaction is the result of a profoundly constructive approach to art that allows, however, chance enough leeway to transport laws and an abidance by rules into a dynamic framework.

In his piece “Sechzehn und eine Farbe” [Sixteen and One Colours] from 1990, the grid formed by the square panels follows a clearly regular pattern that is disrupted by the painterly “inner life”. But gradually an order also develops therein. On the one hand because the eye of the beholder seeks order, and on the other because the artist has already introduced this order into the artwork. The eye adjusts itself to a bright orange hue and suddenly filters out strips of colour from the entire work that all are travelling in the same direction. Stripes of a darker orange make up the verticals, which traverse the work a total of four times from the top margin to the bottom. Additional stripes in green and blue tilt gently from the orthogonal, but likewise form a regular sequence.

However much Bernhard Sandfort adheres to the rules of constructive composition, chance is equally important to him. This is more than that of an artistic attitude – or as Theresia Kiefer writes: “The artist conceives of his visual systems as metaphors that stand for life.” And indeed Bernhard Sandfort has found an artistic equivalent for life in which – between laws, abidance by rules, and chance – everything is possible but nothing mandatory. This form of contingency is convincing and perhaps brings his art closer to life than was ever the case with Constructivism of the classic kind.


Bernhard Sandfort

1936 born in Cologne
2020 died in Mannheim