The white acrylic surface pierced by the nails in the present work is characteristic of the artist’s adherence to minimal colouration, a preference made clear in Uecker’s statement that, “I chose a white zone as an expression of extreme colouration, as the epitome of light, as a triumph over darkness. A white world, I believe, is a humane world in which people experience a colourful existence, in which they can be truly alive… the state of whiteness may be understood as a prayer, and its articulation can be a spiritual experience” (Günther Uecker cited in: Alexander Tolnay, Ed., Günther Uecker Twenty Chapters, Ostfildern-Ruit 2006, p. 44). The reduced colour palette of Untitled augments Uecker’s use of nails, and the expressive application of white acrylic paint distinctly conveys the movement of light and shadow upon the wood’s surface.
The present work reflects on the fundamental interests of the ZERO group, to which Günther Uecker solidified his ties in 1961. Uecker, along with the founders of the group Heinz Mack and Otto Piene, represented a generation of artists that emerged in the years after the war in search of a new visual language, a tabula rasa with which they could explore new forms of perception through the use of light and motion. Uecker’s work has been included in an impressive range of major international exhibitions detailing the ZERO group at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein Westfalen in Dusseldorf, among others.
To Uecker, light and pure colour was inherent to the spiritual liberation of the individual, and equally critical to the meditative powers of art. His application of nails onto the surface of his work served as a meditative ritual in itself, and one that shaped the artist’s unique vision of sculptural painting and raw abstraction in the post-war decades and well after: “I am not painting pictures of the world but instead putting pictures out into the world” (op. cit., p. 9).
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