Less is More by Herbert Zangs at Blain|Southern Berlin

Less is More by Herbert Zangs

Blain|Southern Berlin Potsdamer Straße 77–87

29 September – 17 November 2018

The exhibition features a number of signature works by the artist including Folding Reliefs, Mathematical Signs Collages (PlusMinus) and a group of his celebrated monochromatic Whitenings; all of which demonstrate the artists commitment to an improvised, informal artistic process. A student of the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, where he studied under Otto Pankok and was friends with fellow student Joseph Beuys, his artistic career began in 50’s Germany, where the impact of the war andthe effects of austerity found artists in various fields engaged in finding new ways of expression. Renownedfor his uncompromising nature, he never formally associated himself with any artistic movement however, his use of monochrome and serial structures could be seen as a precursor to the Zero movement, which emphasised art that was purely about the material and not the artist’s hand.

Zangs began working with found materials and objects early on, using cardboard, paper, wood and jute bags to create collages which often featured white paint applied onto their surfaces. Flying over a country devastated by war and blanketed in snow during pilot training is said to have affected him deeply, and thisis reflected in both the subdued colour and structure of his Whitening paintings. In Strukturelles Farbrelief(1978) – and throughout the series, bright white paint fresh from the tube was eschewed in favour of left- over colour or masonry paint. The intention was not to turn the object into something more beautiful but rather highlight the materiality and structure of an object.

Another key aspect of his practice was the incorporation of mathematical symbols, “x”, “+” and “–“. He used them in different ways, sometimes appearing prominently in the form of collage or cut-outs of wood as in Rechenstück (1950). The symbols function as a geometric and aesthetic repertoire of forms and appear throughout his oeuvre. They can be seen as mere forms, or, on a meta level, the mathematical signs stand for order and logic – a paradoxical element of his practice given his nonconformity. Other reoccurring motifs in Zangs’ work are the folding relief and the grid. The Grid has a special significancein that the artist was interested in its sculptural aspect along with what the grid represents – a rigid,inflexible system, against which the innovative Zangs fought and rebelled against his whole life.

Images > Herbert Zangs, Less is More 2018, Installation View Courtesy The Artist and Blain Southern, Photo: Trevor Good