Lot 362
  • 362

Sabine Moritz

10,000 - 15,000 GBP
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  • Sabine Moritz
  • Test
  • signed and dated 2005 on the reverse
  • oil on canvas
  • 50 by 60cm.; 19 3/4 by 23 5/8 in.


Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner


Hans-Ulrich Obrist and Adam Zagajewski, Sabine Moritz: Helicopter, London 2014, p. 50, illustrated in colour


Colour: The colours in the catalogue illustration are fairly accurate, although the overall tonality is brighter and more vibrant and contains more blue undertones in the original. Condition: This work is in very good condition. No restoration is apparent when examined under ultraviolet light.
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Catalogue Note

“The helicopters are perhaps odd metaphors that carry us far away. A big empty space. Sometimes they are symbols for the Self, sometimes for the Other and sometimes they tell a story.”

(Sabine Moritz quoted in Hans-Ulrich Obrist and Adam Zagajewski, Sabine Moritz: Helicopter, London 2014, n.p.)

The helicopter motif emerges through misty layers of white paint, appearing like a distant memory or dream in which indistinct figures drift downward to their military duties. Sabine Moritz has an enduring fascination with memory; its mutability, its relation to time, our experience of it as well as its impact on us and our wider society. Test’s delicate and almost dreamlike execution therefore profoundly reflects her artistic motivations whilst captivating the viewer with its considerate grace.

Moritz began her ‘Helicopter’ series shortly after the events of September 11th 2001. Since then, society’s general reaction to and conception of aircraft was altered; once heralded as beacons of freedom they became symbols of aggression and warfare.
Helicopters, which have long been signs of conflict, have recurred in the public eye through journalists’ lenses from the Vietnam War to the present day - and since the shift of collective consciousness following September the 11th, the helicopter has been held with even greater significance. In this sense Moritz has created these motifs, not in direct response to any particular event, but in reaction to an era where exiting symbols have been altered and new ones have come into being.

The presence of the helicopter image in contemporary culture forms discreet connections with earlier wars like recurring memories or thoughts which exist in our subconscious.  For Moritz there is a “sense of awareness that we are all living in a post-war era. Even if we never think about it, we are nevertheless surrounded by the consequences of war. The last war changed so many things and still lives on in the present” (ibid). In this sense war has left lasting imprints on our memory as well as our perceptions of ourselves, both as individuals and a society.
Moritz often works from newspaper images to create her paintings, bringing about a sense of familiarity whilst simultaneously being challenging to place within a specific context or conflict. Reflecting this sentiment, works throughout this series have been assigned divergent titles by the artist; some such as Bagdad/Baghdad (2004) or Kandahar (2004) being given specific geographical context, but more generally the titles are ambiguous descriptions whose significance extends no further than the picture’s edge . This diversity of titles serves to further emphasise the interchangeability of the context and reinforce the concept of recurrence of the helicopter motif throughout society.

Test is an exemplary work from Moritz’s most recognisable and enduring series and the delicacy and sensitivity with which it was executed only serves to strengthen its power to dissolve into the subconscious and perpetuate the iterations of her conceptual foundations.