Berlin-based Veronika Kellndorfer explores California modernism and the poetics of presence, creating enigmatic prints on glass using her own photographs of homes by midcentury architects. This recent exhibition, her third at Christopher Grimes, included eight prints on glass made during the past two years, ranging from 3½ to 8½ feet on a side, along with four ink and acrylic paintings from 1998-2000, each about 2 by 5 or 5 by 2 feet. The juxtaposition of these two bodies of work illuminated the development of Kellndorfer’s ideas about how architectural imagery can be the basis for a kind of meditative abstraction. Though less dramatic than the prints, the canvases reveal a subtle, layered process of accretion and erasure. These abstract works are mostly dominated by simple geometry, which, in combination with their titles—bridge, columns, curtain and door—indicates the artist’s engagement with structure.
The prints are made with a silkscreen process developed for use in architecture, in which the glass is baked, like a ceramic plate, fixing image to form. Similar to the canvases, the prints retain traces of their fabrication; the texture of the silkscreen is visible on the surface of the thick panes, recalling newspaper printing and benday dots. Rather than offering a glamorous vision of midcentury modernism, such as that captured in Julius Shulman’s trademark photographs, Kellndorfer’s work focuses on forgotten or overlooked details—a patch of overgrown foliage or a hazy windowpane. In a pair of blue-toned works, Lautner and Silver Lake, Lautner 2,the same corner where two windows meet is seen from slightly different perspectives and seemingly at different times of day, drawing our attention to the play of light and the passage of time rather than to an iconic facade.
Two of the larger prints, Pierre Koenig and Pierre Koenig (transparent), each 431⁄4 by 901⁄2 inches, feature the same view, rich with light and shadow, of a house that seems to hover just above the ground. The ghostly image, paired with the sensuous substance and heft of the glass, sets up a contrast between the transparent and the substantial that resonates throughout this exhibition.
Photo: Veronika Kellndorfer: Pierre Koenig, 2008, silkscreen on glass, 431⁄4 by 901⁄2 inches; at Christopher Grimes.