Views and reviews as a dual play of analysis
Sometimes the initial impressions that we receive, in the form of unspectacular build-ups of momentary snapshots and emotions and out of a wavering deliberation, mislead us into that mood of irritation which some individuals regard as attractive and which, like a challenge, is ready to probe more deeply into the profound and the obvious. We find it impossible to define precisely for ourselves whether a compendium of inconsistencies, imbalances or the denial of an all too prominent poster style is what provokes us to engage with the work of an artist. Are visual irritations now reckoned to be a guarantee of motivated attentiveness where the debate with this work is concerned? Or do they enrich our saturated vision in the intellectual sense? If we study the paintings of the Tyrolean artist Thomas Riess, by taking on the role of spectator we are ultimately making a conscious decision to address ourselves to a complex overall structure.
In this context the complexity does not apply solely to pictures that are patently substantially derivative and are naturally perceived and/or interpreted as such; rather these pictures are preceded by compressed descriptions of images – in this case the picture title as such loses its functionality, which becomes more of an attribute. For the artist, a title is not something you tag onto a picture but the inception of an idea that incorporates the central theme in spite of the loss of unambiguity. Fleischflügler [“Flesh Winger”], Zebrale Wesen [“Cerebral Being”], Überkopfflieger [“Overhead Flyer”], Belichten (Box) [“Exposure (Box)”], Sauger[“Sucker”] or Raumgreifer [“Space Grabber”] are word masks that parody the basic theme relating to the subject matter. We perceive that intoned passion for incorporating more and more anonymised counterstatements into the items which were previously assumed to be self-portraits as a consistent phenomenon.
However, the portrait as it is understood in classical art is subject to a pictorial perception that structures the being as unapproachable and alien. It is true that a masked face allows us to a limited extent to make an associative comparison, but further advances in intimacy are vehemently avoided by the artist and countered in our deeper insight by a permanently veiled corporeality, an intrinsic materiality that extends into the technoid. Now we can begin to experience Thomas Riess’s tendency to present the current nominalised figurativity of the abstracted corporeality of earlier artistic works – in this sense, the variable decision in favour of figuration takes on another function as a transmitter and is part of a predominant symptomatic dualism in his ideas. The question of consciousness that is mainly subjective is reduced not only to the analysis of internal and external spaces, of reviews and the perception of what is real within oneself: rather the attempt of the person creating the art to reveal on paper or canvas the temporal principle of the planes and of the status quo happens in a more forceful manner. Planes are defined though tonal values, figurative character sequences, shortened perspectives, paradoxical lines of sight and the accompanying description of these as already mentioned.
It is just that inevitable significance of the graphic works that manifests in its rich scope, its rich variety of technical realisation and its characteristic chronological style of subordinated fragmentariness the intention of the artist to treat converging thought impulses in subsequent large-format pictures. Are they now on a par with pure architectural embellishments for later visual content and finger exercises, or do they inspire us to further thought constructs as a result of their originality? The graphic convolute is based on one particular characteristic – that is, fulfilling the autonomous criteria of a spontaneously induced artistic snapshot and being yet another starting point for imaginary configurative scenarios that are implemented accordingly in the pictorial work. Now Thomas Riess deliberately bolsters the imagination of the outside observer with other definitive interpretations. The preferred fluctuating type of exchange, depending on our mood, or the visually perceptible penetration of plane structures are what enable us to look for the solutions offered – solutions which are not devitalised in terms of content as a result of collectivised statement formulae but are constantly challenging our viewing behaviour and intellectuality anew.
The works which Riess has executed over the past few years in his special Tippex technique juggle in subtle variance with the tilting characteristics subordinated to a complex way of looking at them. At the same time, photographic artwork defines the format of the content and composition which is also preceded by graphically disengaged conceptions. Black and white – the latter coarse-grained as a result of the use of the Tippex – eliminate memories in colour and are conceived as a visual illusion. Consequently the decoding of the content takes place layer by layer, with the result being revealed as a comprehensible whole. Again and again we find in Thomas Riess’s work variations of patterns being used like stencils and symbolic repetitions whose irritative value grabs our attention in parallel with a certain familiarisation effect, and finally this is followed in an insightful frontality by the main statement of his intention, inciting us to further analysis.
The freedom to do this embraces the capacity of the individual to define him- or herself in space and to critically accept the static and dynamic definitions specified by the artist as such.
Eleonora Bliem-Scolari (Curator)