Systems rattle - excellent is bloom... - Lévy Gorvy
Jutta Koether's painting Systems rattle - excellent is bloom..., 1986

Scale model with Jutta Koether's Systems Rattle...

Systems rattle – excellent is bloom…


Oil on canvas
59 1/16 x 15 3/4 inches (150 x 40 cm)
© Jutta Koether
Courtesy Lévy Gorvy and Galerie Buchholz

Systems rattle – excellent is bloom… (1986) dates to Koether’s early years in Cologne. Intimately sized, like ritual objects or fetishes, her paintings of the 1980s bear witness to her search for alternatives to both standard narratives of modernism and then-dominant models of neo-expressionism. Seeking other ways to be, and to be as an artist, she looked to esoteric and dissident modes, like Surrealism, the landscape paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe, and the late work of Philip Guston, “sipping” them, so to speak—as the title of two paintings from the same year, Some Esoteric Sipping (1986), proposes. The present painting features a grid of irregular rectangles, each of which is both bound and linked by sinewy black lines. Summoning images of cellular organisms and electronic circuitry, their configuration bespeaks notions of transmission and conversion: themes which preoccupied Koether at this moment and which join the metabolic processes of the body to the wired operations of the machine. Far from seamless, these systems, the painting’s title indicates, are prone to malfunction; they “rattle” and misfire. Its lightly brushed surface and pairing of red and black—typical of Koether’s work during this period—emphasize the materiality of paint, here presented as a metaphor for the body. Held between abstraction and figuration, Systems rattle – excellent is bloom… transforms the canvas into a charged, corporeal terrain.


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