Gerold Miller (1961, Altshausen, Germany) is known for the coherence with which he has developed over the years the minimalist and conceptual poetics that make him unmistakable, centered on the exploration of the innumerable possible interactions between the (real and fictitious) space of the work and the visual perception of the viewer. Trained as a sculptor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart, from the outset he concentrated on the creation of object-frames poised between painting and sculpture made of aluminum and coated with lacquer or industrial enamel. His works are often described as rigorous, geometric and rationally designed to activate the surrounding space through a highly calibrated synergy of light and colour. If, at first glance, one is tempted to associate the formal reduction that characterizes them with Donald Judd’s radical compositional essentiality, the sensual irradiation of color in the environment seems rather to place them in an intermediate position between him and Dan Flavin, for whom the neon is a module to be articulated in potentially infinite series that enter into a critical relationship with space.
Also in Miller we find simple recurring forms that relate to the architectural context in which they are distributed, highlighting its structural specificities, combined with the emphasis on the color-light link understood as a tool for poetic metamorphosis of a given environment. In the case of the German artist, it is not a matter of a real luminous emanation from the sculptural elements, but of the effect of calculated chromatic combinations and abstract figures which in each single piece create illusions of depth and multiplication of planes even in the absolute planarity of the drafts. The slight mirroring property, due to the lacquer, which unites all the surfaces, uniforming the intensity of the saturation, also induces us to read the succession of several works as a chromatic scansion of the space in which they live, from which the spectator feels at the same time welcomed and rejected due to the evanescence of the reflection they return. This effect is the result of obsessive attention to the quality of the varnishing and the impeccable workmanship of the materials, operations that are commissioned by the artist to specialized industrial workshops, with very high production costs. Precisely the executive perfection and the complexity of the production process mark the radical difference between Miller’s practice and that of the fathers of historical minimalism, of whom he seems to reinterpret the vocation for synthesis in the light of aesthetic solicitations coming from visual habits established by the digital.
A further perceptual ambiguity is found even if we focus on the morphological aspect, with regard to which we can observe how the proportion between the various modules that make up the works (and each installation as a whole) seems to refer to the multiples and submultiples of a scale which, although detached from any declared reference, seems to refer to the human dimension. This is perhaps the main reason why Gerold Miller does not conceive his works as self-sufficient objects, but always imagines them in relation to a real environment which he himself experiences before starting a new series and which constitutes the presupposition of that special intersection between sculpture, wall surfaces and painting to which the multiplicity of figurative problems he tackled can ultimately be traced back. Therefore, the wall (like the three-dimensional space in which the sculptural works are placed) instead of being an impersonal display support, fully enters among the basic elements of the work, as it is demonstrated by the preparatory cardboard models with which from the beginning he designs in every detail the reciprocal correspondences and interconnections between works still to be carried out and which he has preliminarily summoned in the form of mental presences.
At this point it seems clear that, although it is always fascinating to meet one of his enigmatic works in fairs and exhibitions, to fully experience the perceptive subtleties of his poetics it is far preferable to access one of his site-specific environmental installations, so as to be able to immerse in the mutual reflections and refractions between the works. The opportunity not to be missed is now a monograph, created in collaboration with the Artesilva gallery of Seregno (MB), at KAPPA-NöUN, an exhibition space founded in San Lazzaro di Savena (BO) by the collector Marco Ghigi, inspired by which Gerold Miller created the unpublished series called set, presented here in preview together with three new sculptures from the Verstärker series. The latter repeat in three different scales the only sculpture module to which the artist has always dedicated himself, i.e. a tripartite formation of three parallelepipeds oriented to each other at right angles, two of which form the base and the third extends upwards. The sculptures inhabit the space as stylized presences, but the silent dialogue they establish between them, the visitors framed from time to time by their grids and the works on the wall imbue the nature of these objects with ambivalence (and also that of those who find themselves between ensnared them). If so far the three-dimensional form in Miller is always identical to itself, the evolution of these works lies in the material: instead of being made of stainless steel, like the square-modules he intended for the wall, they have been produced in black Belgian marble. It is extremely unsettling the fact that the surfaces, treated with a sophisticated workmanship, refer to the identical mirroring of the metal ones, to the point of making it really difficult to notice the difference, despite the emergence of some delicate veining.
The new set series instead consists of six rectangular works of different sizes arranged in sequence on a single wall, on each of which the same geometric composition is repeated, formed by a square (central with respect to the pictorial plane in the sense of the width but positioned downwards in that of the height) framed by four other backgrounds of different colors oriented at 45° so as to create a sort of vortex movement of which the square seems to be the fulcrum. It appears more than ever evident here how Miller’s abstract figuration never wants to define a static image, but rather a changing boundary between internal and external space, continually called into question by illusionistic breakthroughs obtained through the virtuosic control of a painting strictly anchored to two-dimensionality. In particular, these more articulated and wavy sets, which represent a further development of his work for the use of unprecedented colors and geometries, suggest both equivocal volumes between the relief and the recess and both the circular opening and closing movement of analog camera lens. In a certain sense, therefore, Miller’s works, despite their steadfast minimalist structure that does not admit errors or smudges, can be seen as a passionate investigation into human nature and the way in which perception affects the way we see and understand the world.
curated by Valerio Dehò
31/01/2023 – 11/03/2023
Via Imelde Lambertini 5 – San Lazzaro di Savena (BO)
Graduated in art history at DAMS in Bologna, city where she continued to live and work, she specialized in Siena with Enrico Crispolti. Curious and attentive to the becoming of the contemporary, she believes in the power of art to make life more interesting and she loves to explore its latest trends through dialogue with artists, curators and gallery owners. She considers writing a form of reasoning and analysis that reconstructs the connection between the artist’s creative path and the surrounding context.