Jorinde Voigt: The Match
On ViewDavid Nolan Gallery
February 17–March 25, 2023
Stretching along the hallway of David Nolan Gallery and into a light-flooded exhibition space, two large offices, and a parlor, Jorinde Voigt’s show The Match features a number of sculptures called Dyads (made of gold-plated stainless steel), and Triads (composed of wood), together with nearly thirty works on paper. Covering ten years of production and evolving techniques and media, Voigt’s content has been both coherent and diverse. With reflections (literal and hand-written) elaborating on mental and physical relations, the works invite us to navigate the artist’s evolving terrain by hiking, swimming, and reading along with her—over hills and bodies, through water and fish gills, and into hairy, humanlike orifices. It’s an exhausting journey.
With involutions at every turn, Voigt maps her interior landscape: her moods, her reactions to her environments, and her thoughts, fickle and/or focused. Throughout her multifaceted work—paintings, prints, collages, drawings, and sculpture—she focuses on relationships, of past to present, words to images, art to life, mind to matter, land to sea, and art history to art present. Her introspection is exposed as she leads us through the meandering shapes of her thoughts with written instructions, twists of line, or words as directionals, telling us and herself to move back and forth and then reverse. As we travel, we see her mapping the landscape of her mind, guiding us through time and correction, intention and accident, decision and regret.
The show’s title succinctly elaborates the underlying links and tensions embodied in the works, between materials like ink and feathers in the drawing Synchronicity (1) (2015), and the depictions of substance versus illusion, philosophy and physics, art and literature, change and constancy.
Land and seascapes pervade the show, which opens theatrically with one, an expansive canvas called Potential 2 (2020), in the gallery’s central room, hung opposite a fireplace in a setting that resembles a domestic space. The painting, with its rhythmic undulations and drips and evidence of underwater inhabitants both animal and vegetable, immerses us in an underworld of warm blue. It’s like nature’s water ballet, aligning rhythm and form in a performance. In the same room, solid wood and steel sculptures are arrayed elegantly in contrast to the painterly fluidity.
Voigt maps space and time, often using words in lieu of photographs and other forms of visual representation. In a large drawing from the series, “Love as Passion: The Codification of Intimacy” (2014), she explores the idea of love by quoting words and references from a 1982 book of the same name by the German sociologist Niklas Luhmann, translating his text into visual imagery. Similarly, words from Roland Barthes’s A Lover’s Discourse assume the form of mental images through color and shape. In other words, Voigt moves fluidly between word and image, triggering our imaginations. The relationship is more solidly evident in the abstract sexual postures and sense of motion in sculptures like the seductive modernist alder wood Triad 1 and Triad 2 (both 2023) where anatomical shapes interweave cubistically.
A Berlin-based conceptual artist, who tellingly began her career as a cellist, Voigt draws upon music for her rhythmic emotional depictions. The curves of the instrument recur throughout her work and the reflective surfaces of her materials (the metal sculptures and mirrored collages) reach over and through one another as they establish compelling relationships within the complex pieces of her art. She is especially interested in perception, as in phenomenology, whereby, according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “we classify, describe, interpret, and analyze structures of experiences in ways that answer to our own experience.”
Voigt’s drawing Particella III (2021), composed of graphite, oil chalks, and ink with a black organic cut-paper shape affixed to mirror glass, is like an eerie comment on her project—enigmatic, anxious, and introverted. Not surprisingly, we encounter alchemy in her use of gold, copper, and silver leaf on paper, as in Incommunicability III (2014) a work that flatly riffs on three-dimensional sculpture in a thrilling intermedial exercise, taking us from mind to matter.
Landscape is echoed in a rich painterly evocation of Clyfford Still in the large Abstract Expressionist–style painting Immersive Integral Zenith XVII (2018), with vertical streaky washes of a teal blue over a cream backdrop. Color is form and content in this image. The language of art is underscored throughout Voigt’s work in the evocation of Cy Twombly’s abstract writing, with suggestive lines scratching into reality and entering our thoughts. And of course, there’s music. As Voigt told the online journal lvhart.co, “I work on the development of rhythmic fields. I imagine that every pulse, every beat, every interference is already there in an infinitely continuous manner, and every music that is there is a kind of message or report from this spectrum.”