durchdringung – weiss auf rosa, 1973
Oil on canvas
111,6 x 111,6 x 9 cm
Photo: Gerhard Sauer
Almir Mavignier first embarked on his characteristic paintings featuring dots arranged in grids in 1954 while studying at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm, under the influence of Max Bill and Josef Albers. In these pieces Mavignier, who originally hailed from Brazil, occupied himself with such topics as instability and motion, with dismantling the hierarchically structured composition, and with the participation of the viewer. From this he developed a new concept of the painting which later had an impact on the avant-garde mouvement he jointly established, the New Tendencies.
In the work durchdringung – weiss auf rosa [penetration – white on pink] two grid patterns, each consisting of uniform sized white dots of paint, have been superimposed on one another upon a delicate pink background. The piece itself can scarcely be described in traditional art terms: it is neither painting nor object; the white elements are neither points nor circles. The paint has been applied very thickly and every dot done individually, but on viewing the work as a whole, the differences in the microstructure get lost in an objectified, systematic macrostructure that has been placed with great accuracy. Mavignier has dabbed the colour on to the canvas with the flat end of a nail. This produces the dots, whose pointy tips stand out from the canvas, rather like little hats, and bend gracefully in different directions – thus involving them in a subtle play of light and shade.
Almir Mavignier’s works have often been placed close to Op Art as a result of the optical effects they produce and the way they seem to pulsate and vibrate. In 1965 Mavignier participated in The Responsive Eye, a legendary exhibition in New York that led to the breakthrough of Op Art. While it is doubtless correct to say that Mavignier’s paintings paved the way for optical and kinetic art in the 1960s, a work like durchdringung – weiss auf rosa shows that the artist also had something further in mind: right from the outset, he tackled the themes of arrangement and objectification with a certain imperfection and in that way invested his precise structures with a congenial sense of liveliness.
1925 born in Rio de Janeiro
2018 died in Hamburg