ARTISTS / Art after 1945
Thomas Lenk

Relief 31
© Thomas Lenk / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Thomas Lenk

Relief 31, 1971

Chipboard, white/silver
260 × 260 × 50 cm

Unique piece
Photo: Exhibition view art KARLSRUHE 2016
(LENKT/R 3)

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Literature: WV (unprinted), p. 61, cf. no. 30 (Relief 31), there with color specification white/luminescent green. In the 1970s, the work was an integral part of the stand architecture of an exhibition booth of the Bauer company.


With the so-called "Schichtungen" (Layering), Thomas Lenk developed a formal language that was as independent as it was memorable, with which he joined the ranks of the important sculptors of concrete art. For his works, the artist placed wooden panels, some of them industrially prefabricated and painted, on top of each other in a serial sequence and with somnambulistic precision, whereby the front panel forming the end is always accentuated by the application of color. Thus "Relief 31" pushes itself towards the viewer through the silver of the rounded squares with which the four layers, directed towards an imaginary center and seemingly growing out of the wall, conclude. The monumental effect of the large-format stratifications is absorbed by the sensitive color scheme in white and silver and held in abeyance. Lenk thus redefines the surrounding space through his relief and at the same time makes the aesthetic space thus constructed recognizable as a - partial - optical illusion. For while "Relief 31", when viewed from the front, almost physically strives towards the viewer through the effects of color, form and shadow, the view from the side - described by Lenk as a "banal view" - objectifies the perceived depth. In this way, the relief initiates a rational and physical dialogue between viewer and object, which explores the effect of forms and colors as well as the sensual and empirical perception of space and time.
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