Matias Bechtold / Erwin Bechtold – Zweiheit, Laura Mars Gallery, Berlin, 2018

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Installation view: Zweiheit, Laura Mars Gallery, 2018

Erwin Bechtold (born 1925) is a Cologne-born and Ibiza-based painter and drawing artist with a body of work distinguished by a characteristic language of color and form. One, if not the central, basic model of his images developed in the context of post-war informal painting is that of balancing closed geometric entities with apparently spontaneous drawn elements. Surface effects of color field painting engage in constant tension with a linear, expressive style. Block-like rectangles dominating the picture surface, for example, are burst open and/or expanded by impulsive-gestic formations. It is a staging of the eternal antagonism between the exact and clearly articulated, and the opaque and indifferent – a constellation Erwin Bechtold has developed into a complex and extensive Œuvre.

At first glance, the works by Matias Bechtold (born 1955, lives in Berlin) appear conceivably detached from his father’s artistic approach. His pictorial worlds, assembled and rampantly sculptural in character, yet invariably referring to a concrete reality, clearly distance themselves from an immanent artistic stance primarily, even exclusively, relying on the impact of relationships of color and form. A questioning and review of such immanence is documented already by the specific language of materials of Matias Bechtold’s constructs. To start with, model-building techniques are relevant to his expertly worked out, rich-in-detail scenic miniatures. From plastics and corrugated cardboard, the artist shapes – for the most part architectural – assemblies and areas which seem fantastic yet are regularly invested with some concrete localization. Titled Neu Köln, atop a circular disc showing the map of that metropolis on the Rhine, a futuristic, sprawling prediction has taken shape. In a similar fashion, the Jaki-Liebezeit-Tower visualizes the future projection of a super skyscraper proving to be the totalizing acme of architectural phantasies.

Notwithstanding the many differences between Matias and Erwin Bechtold, the appealing question remains of what, if any, parallels there are between the artistic methods and approaches of both father and son. What they have in common is a basis work with cellular structure formations that are variable, and seem infinitely expandable. In the exhibition space, the works of both artists complement each other to result in a multi-perspective modular system that makes palpable basic principles (e.g. the unfolding from the singular, and unity in multiplicity) of the world around us, but as well of an idea of world acting beyond it.

Text: Thomas Groetz
Translation: Johannes Sabinski