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Billions of Names of God - The Marianne Meyer Gallery opened with Peter Valentiner's works.

1991-07-02 Milliarden Namen Gottes
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There are supposed to be people who only buy paintings if they match their curtains or carpets. Ignoramuses of this kind would almost certainly find what they are looking for among the paintings of the Danish-born Frenchman Peter Valentiner, after all, his oversized wallpaper pattern book is reminiscent.

But of course the high international reputation of this artist, who now lives mainly in Cologne and teaches at the European Academy of Fine Arts in Trier, is not based on the decorative. On the other hand, his works cannot deny a certain tendency towards the stereotypical and the serial. The abstract acrylic paintings currently on show at the Marianne Meyer Gallery, for example, were created between 1983 and 1990, without any artistic development being discernible in them. On the whole, they were all produced in a uniform manner.

This does not mean, however, that this finding must lead to a derogatory judgement. On the contrary, it can be argued that Valentiner found his unmistakable style early on and was able to perfect it, that he did not allow himself to be affected by short-lived fashionable trends and that he went his own way unwaveringly.

As indicated, this path of his is held together by external, fixed and always the same limitations of the process. Usually Valentiner applies three more or less glazed layers of paint on top of each other, leaving out certain areas by means of irregular stencils. This gives his paintings depth, a certain three-dimensionality and dynamism.

This already mentions qualities that no longer belong to Valentine's basic conditions, but aim at the centre of his programme. He has made it his task to bring the unfathomable interplay of colour and surface to the point in continually new attempts. Like a kaleidoscope, he shakes the two components together, creating a chaos that nevertheless shows relationships and is able to trigger effects.

Thus, Valentine's pictures sometimes express joy, sometimes sadness, sometimes they are bursting with aggressiveness, sometimes they convey contentment and harmony. There are colours that condition each other and surfaces that repel each other. They play with pure, unreflective sensuality and therefore keep a last remnant of their mystery to themselves.

With his conscious restriction to colour and surface and the simultaneous manic penetration of these specifications, Valentiner has immersed himself in a desire that can be called mystical, similar to that of Tibetan monks who strive to enumerate the nine billion names of God in order to decipher and complete creation.

It is understandable that such a meditative immersion allows no exceptions, no compromises. The preoccupation with Modigliani or Picasso, to whom Valentiner has dedicated collages, is therefore a disintegrating one. The titans of art have to subordinate themselves to the programme, have to put up with being reduced to an emotional value.

Finally, a word about the new gallery itself, which can only be appreciative. In the old transformer factory on Mosinger Strasse, Marianne Meyer has created clear, light-flooded rooms that are predestined for art. It is worth paying a visit to Peter Valentiners Welt, which is on show here until 10 August. However, you should bring along a little time to immerse yourself.

Peter Zemla


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