[…] this solemn Voice/ Which knows itself when it sounds/ to be no longer the voice of anyone/ As much as the voice of the waves and the forests.
Paul Valéry, “La Pythie”
The exhibition consists of a group of ten plaster reliefs and nine stamp drawings, all made within the last year. The reliefs are painted with red casein paint in a tone which at once can evoke architectural (brick, terracotta), geographical (soil, red earth), and political (flag, revolution) contexts. Similar to the motifs of the drawings, which are arrangements of elementary linear fragments, the reliefs are configurations based on a 14 ¾ x 20 7/8 inch module. Like the cliché stampings of the drawings, these objects can be described as proto-mechanical: they are made by pouring plaster into silicone molds; however, the initial forms are hand-constructed, and the final works hand-painted. This mode of production triggers the relationship between the positive and the negative space, as both visual elements are already part of a single cast object.
This new body of work furthers the artist’s involvement with cartography and territorialization, as manifested in After a Map of Eretz Israel…(2013–14), his previous exhibition at the gallery. The reliefs originate from stamp drawings of simple linear and rectangular progressions, which can be seen as representations of borders and volumes. In the shapes of the plaster reliefs, one territorial element relates to, touches, or overlaps with another, which might suggest a spatiotemporal event. This uncertainty of boundaries, which results from this quasi-areal exercise, is in turn arrested in the final objects: the intersections of positive and negative space establish grids, sections, elevations, and gaps. Of these new works, Pumhösl has said: “The reliefs did not offer a direct pictorial transposition of the drawings. They appear to me as irregular (in Doesburg’s sense: painting as an irregularity in architectural space), and—cautiously speaking—tonal.”
Pumhösl’s use of geometric abstraction insists on a kind of topology of modernism, which goes beyond the gestalt of the works, and in a sense, at once suspends and reactivates some of its achievements. By employing such visual vocabulary as the monochrome, the geometric regularity, the binary logic of positive/negative and vertical/horizontal, he is imagining a territorial play between the aesthetic and the sociopolitical.