Irma Blank and Stephen Rosenthal are the protagonists of a double solo show running until 10 June at the P420 gallery in Bologna. The idea linked to the exhibition project “Irma Blank: Gehen / Stephen Rosenthal: Notations” was born from the meeting between the two artists, which took place in 2018. It is the work of Rosenthal (Washington D.C., 1935) to welcome the spectator, who comes across the succession of nine canvases and five papers from the Notations series, created between 2019 and 2022, which are the spokesperson for the artist’s research both from a technical point of view, and from the conceptual one. They present themselves as surfaces from which thoughts emerge, words from ancient languages, in a continuous creative flow and research of interwoven relationships between the elements of the pictorial space. The artist operates a stylistic evolution with respect to stratification and subtraction through the use of cloths, solvents created in the previous series entitled Constellations, to which the gallery had dedicated a solo exhibition in 2018. In the works on display, the artist reconstructs, weaves relationships between the elements present on the surfaces of the canvases and papers. Thus, a vibrant tension towards the transcendent emerges, towards the concept of universal and harmonious balance, where the sign coexists with the word, both immersed in a space that is no longer just pictorial, but expressive, meditative: a means of communication between thought and creative gesture, a space where Rosenthal’s art finds its fulfillment and its expression.
In the critical text that accompanies the exhibition, taking the expression “More & more about less & less” from Ad Reinhardt, it is stated that: «His painting is nothing more than a way of thinking, even when one ventures into a territory liminal, where adding (more & more) meets subtracting (less & less)». Proceeding along the exhibition itinerary, we reach the room dedicated to Irma Blank (Celle, 1934 – Milan, 2023), a recently deceased German artist. The works on display are part of the Gehen, Second Life series, created following a paralysis of the right side of the body, which struck the artist in 2016 and, starting from which, she had begun a second artistic life, restarting from acceptance of her new physical condition and developing a new way of approaching art. The sheet becomes the space to walk, to give shape to those thoughts that crowd the mind and need an order, a representation that perceives their flow, the passage of time.
Time, for Irma Blank, represents the dimension within which man moves, in the flow of life and events, which balance each other. It is for this reason that the succession of lines represents the flow and the passage of time necessary to trace them, but at the same time the reflection of the situation experienced in the same instants. Signs like words, like a new language that takes shape in the making, with the movement of the hand. Trembling lines are traced on white sheets with the colors of writing such as blue, red, black. As it is explained in the guide, they constitute «an inner seismograph, where the tip of the pen becomes a device that translates a feeling. Instead of translating moods, these lines show a breath, as if Blank has found a graphic way to breathe, always new and always different. Exhibited side by side, her drawings continue in our minds, making the series a cycle with no beginning and no end».
Also on display we find some works from the Ways series, which demonstrate a further evolution in her expressive style. The lines, drawn with five different felt-tip pens starting from the same point, divide and branch off in different directions, inviting the viewer to follow them and perceive the specific peculiarity and identity attributed to them by the artist. Thus different paths are outlined, different possibilities of representing life experiences, many perspectives in a single horizon, that of the pictorial plane, on which the spectator manages to walk together with the artist. Traveling through the thoughts of Irma Blank and her physical and emotional changes, she shares the universality of the human condition which, despite its fragility, always manages to find the strength to be reborn and to give life to that creative spark, typical of artwork.
Irma Blank: Gehen / Stephen Rosenthal: Notations
6/05/2023 – 10/06/2023
Via Azzo Gardino 9, Bologna
She has a scientific background, but also a great passion for art, which she loves to tell, admiring all its expressions.