Dr. Barbara Willert
Brigitte Kowanz is one of the most internationally acclaimed light artists of our times. For over three decades she has charted the immaterial manifestations and spatial qualities of light, and given it form with her art. In her recent works the artist, who in 2009 was awarded the highest accolade of the Austrian state, the Großer Österreichische Staatspreis, has combined the media of light, mirrors and language to create special perceptual experiences that open up new avenues for insights.
Light and mirrors are first and foremost instruments for illumination and perception, and language also has in principle a great potential for enlightenment. That perception is not however the same as knowledge and certainly not the same as truth is shown most impressively time and again by Brigitte Kowanz: her works consist of light that loses itself in infinity; they show texts in Morse code or shaped from neon lights as scarcely decipherable words in ornate handwriting.
The artist is interested less in the legibility of the script than in its qualities as image or object. Language is grasped by Brigitte Kowanz not only as a means of verbal expression and communication, because one of the central topics of her art is the mechanisms of encoding and deciphering that underpin every system of language.
Her works move with exceptional elegance between purist, technological clarity and sensual illusionism. The white neon light illuminates with a cool, factual quality, only to transform into a wondrous play of light that carries on into infinity through the mirrorings in Brigitte Kowanz’s objects. Mirror surfaces set face to face in her works dispel the visual trappings of physical space and create virtual depths with any number of reflections – meaning that what we see is hard for the mind to grasp. And there in the midst of the experience the viewer finds himself again, mirrored in the objects, and with that becomes part of the artwork and of its illusory space.
The exhibition on the ground floor of Museum Ritter allows the visitors to plunge into a baffling and fascinating game of perceptions which have a truly poetic beauty. On show are a selection of the artist’s wall and floor objects. Apart from large light objects with mirrors, a number of works from Brigitte Kowanz‘s latest group will be on view in which she has combined light and Morse code with stainless steel discs.
Pictures from upper left to right:
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2011