Gerhard Merz
Germany, 1947
The stated aim of Gerhard Merz' work is to find what can be "objectified". The roots of his work spring from the formalism peculiar to modern art, especially discourses and works such as those of Piet Mondrian, Ad Reinhardt, Barnett Newman, Mies van der Rohe or Kazimir Malevich. So it is not strange that the work he did for the German pavilion at the 1997 Venice Biennale had direct links with the Russian artist, since both conceive the creation of a dialogue with the spectator as a criticism of the aesthetic of modern art. To a large extent, modern art itself is Merz' main interest. Merz' work, with its mise en scène of space, colour, form, image and text, evokes an atmosphere of historical and personal memory, seeking to hint at the break between the forms of history and the present. He seems to unveil the figures of a cultural memory (modernity) so that the spectator is in a frame of mind to negotiate with them. In that sense, his work runs parallel to that of a whole generation of European and American artists who, in the eighties, undertook a critical commitment towards constructivist and formalist modernity, which partly emerged as an argument to rebut postmodern theories, focused on the present. About his aesthetic, considered "cold" and conceptually highly condensed, he remarks on his lack of interest in spectacular art and adds: "Art is constructing with a cool head."
Jorge Luís Marzo