Pictures of Something: Andreas Reiter Raabe – Mike Zahn – Summer 2019
July 22, 2019
The work of Andreas Reiter Raabe is heir to the abstraction described by Kirk Varnedoe as ‘pictures of nothing’. Reiter Raabe’s differs from its predecessors in the economy of means, subtleties of execution, and reticence of presentation characteristic of his practice. His are evolving translations of form presented as distinctions between various material registers. In conceptual terms, this is what sets Reiter Raabe’s work apart from that which is merely seen or duly shown. Foremost, the work is characterized by a heightened awareness of its technical support, the locus of its construction in the world, and the unfolding complexity this relationship engenders. In this respect a picture of Reiter Raabe’s is one in which what’s depicted becomes that which is, but also that which is not, or which is other. His pictures are pictures of something, and always of something else— most indelibly of their post-medium condition, deftly rendered in terms of media itself.
To take but one example, in Reiter Raabe’s series Poolsthe eponymous deposits of enamel aren’t simply paint— although they are that— but slyly picture something else. Hue coheres as an image, and of an image of itself in an expanding field of reference where the picture becomes a backdrop to the sundry aspects of its making. This is an attitude Reiter Raabe shares with peers such as Gerwald Rockenschaub and Heimo Zobernig. What’s common among them is a neo-productivist sociability which considers ornament as a tactile engagement with sensible properties, rather than an empty display of material embellishment. With Reiter Raabe’s work in particular, this is how metaphor is constructed and communication enacted. His processes may be rigorously indexical, and while his painting, in its specific objective finish, refers to the photograph, it more accurately calls attention to the infinite reproduction of images and to their incessant circulation beyond the frame. It’s these instances of suggestible differentiation, where association carries over to conjure a mental picture which expands beyond the substrate of its making, which compels Reiter Raabe’s activity.
This cognitive transfer of one medium rendered in terms of another while implicating a third, or indeed the ‘whole’, as it were, is made explicit in a massive outdoor work. Simply called Untitled, it’s seemingly nothing more than a wall built along a walkway in the courtyard of a housing block opposite Reiter Raabe’s studio. Yet in this piece the artist embraces the practical function of an ordinary structure while expressing a visionary desire to, as he casually mentions, “bring the sky down to earth”. This bit of whimsy is found in a nondescript district far from the prachtbauten of Vienna’s Ringstraße, and in an unassuming manner does something quite unusual. There’s a fanciful paradox embedded within its presence as a barrier. Walking along its length, it becomes clear this is an exceptional wall which encourages one to imagine the world anew, for oneself and for others, again and again and again. As with all he does, what Reiter Raabe has created with this work is a place to look, and to sense, and to dream.