Sometimes all that’s needed is one painting and a monograph. I was fortunate to see one of Gregor Gleiwitz’ paintings, “15.03.2016,” in person having missed his first US solo exhibition at ACME Gallery in the summer of 2016.
Gregor Gleiwitz is a young painter whose work is refreshingly unfamiliar, idiosyncratic, and mindful. Polish born, Gleiwitz lives and works in Berlin. Paintings are finished within a day, and the date of completion becomes the title of each piece. Clues to their meaning are not freely given: no indication, no allusions, and no explanations. Everything is left to the viewer’s imagination. Paintings materialize through a few distinct steps, or a series of acts—a three act play—a performance without words—painterly movement distilled into psychological interiority. First, layers are applied thinly and loosely with a slightly muted European, Anders Zorn palette. Through scraping and virtuosic paint handling, a type of Rorschach psychological emergence signals the end of the first act.
As soon as nebulous structures emerge that only the artist can comprehend, he solidifies and emphasizes certain areas with thicker layers of paint. At this juncture the artist makes the usual painterly decisions; value–to–form relationships are encouraged and nursed into existence, which Gleiwitz does so well, giving his paintings their naturalistic tone. Further, color associations fortify neighboring choices, which in turn compliment, as well as signal their kinship to the first act—the environment. Blackout.
Curtains don’t come down. The artist doesn’t wait for applause. Instead, a flurry of movement from skillful hands reinforces certain areas with more painterly precision. With greater visual foci, Gleiwitz modifies overall unifying factors of the painting. However, even though certain areas have greater visual coherence, they offer no further clarification to specific meaning or resolution. You’re on your own. Ambiguity predominates as hazy memories emerge in the viewer’s mind’s eye while gazing at otherworldly forms, shadowy figures, entropic collapse, or perhaps creatures with impossibly long limbs emerging from the nether regions. While there is structure, and form, and even depth, with no pretense toward illusion, the paintings beckon you to look deeper into the chasm.
There is the desire to see forms, because that’s what humans seek, greater understanding and clarity from ambiguity, and the ability to categorize the unknown. It takes effort to meet the paintings as they are without attempting to make sense of them, allowing the eye to wander effortlessly across the canvas letting the artist take us on a journey with no clear beginning, middle, or end.