'We might venture the observation that Joachim Bandau aims to restore complete significance to things, or rather to the actions that lead to things or emanate from them, in favour of a world in which life is possible with a very few, more or less mysterious tools. Objects as well as mirrors... reflection and measure.' - Gregor Jansen
Over more than half a century, the studio practice of Joachim Bandau has progressed via a series of self-contained bodies of work, each characterised by an exhaustive interrogation of material and form. His famous early sculptures, made primarily in polyesters and plastic, mined the fertile and evocative interface between human physicality and modern design. Moving from plastics to bodies of work in lead, steel, wood and lacquer, Bandau has pursued sensitive, exacting forms and the cultivation of resonance between substance and space. While his three-dimensional sculptural work can be readily observed to draw on the common root shared by both sculpture and architecture, his later works on paper can also be understood to emerge through his investigations in these earlier forms.
To read Bandau's large-scale watercolours in this light -as sculptural drawings- places emphasis on the spatial operations that Bandau enacts within the borders of each picture surface, and the finely-tuned balance he achieves between material and performative action. Working meticulously within a series of self-prescribed limitations, each watercolour is developed over a long duration of many months, precisely and methodically moving thin pigment washes over dense hand-made paper. Soft waterlines emerge during the slow drying of each controlled gestural layer, bringing forth a softly saturated picture plane hovering between image and echo.
Conjuring the most subtle of vibrations, each work thus moves the viewer between seeing and feeling, creating a dynamic and cyclic synaesthetic field that encompasses the viewer, the work and the exhibition space. Bandau has signalled an interest in the early polyphonic vocal music of the 16th and 17th centuries, and indeed this is a rich reference to bring to an experience of Bandau's work. The simple tonal forms and acoustic resonance characteristic of a madrigal are an apt comparison by which to position the sensitivity of Bandau's refined, sensate slippage. Emerging from the page with the nuanced complexity of sound, the watercolours inhabit a soft and suggestive terrain where the perception of volume and tone might cross between visual, aural and physical registers.
The exhibition at Two Rooms is a selection of watercolours from several different series produced over a seven year period, and provides insight into the wealth of themes and variations Bandau is able to command while working steadily with a reduced palette of means.
Joachim Bandau was born in Cologne in 1936. He belongs to an important group of German artists, together with Gerhard Richter, Joseph Beuys, and Imi Knoebel, who came out of the Kunstakademie Dusseldorf in 1961. In 1966, he was among the founders of the artist group K66. In 1977, he exhibited at Documenta 6 in Kassel and in 1986 he received the Will Grohmann Award from the Berlin Academy of Arts. Joachim Bandau has had numerous solo exhibitions, including shows at the Museum Ludwig (Cologne), Neues Museum (Nurnberg), M HKA (Antwerp), SculptureCenter (New York), Hamburger Bahnhof (Berlin), Haus der Kunst (Munich), Städtische Kunsthalle (Mannheim), Fine Art Museum (Budapest), De Young Museum (San Francisco), Palais des Beaux-Arts (Brussels). Bandau's work is held in many important public collections, including Centre Pompidou Museum (Paris), Kunstmuseum (Basel), Staatliche Kunstsammlungen (Dresden), and Museum Ludwig (Cologne).
Press release courtesy Two Rooms.