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Fascinating play of contrasts - Peter Valentiner exhibits at Butzen Town Hall

1984-04-29 Faszinierendes Spiel der Gegensätze
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Büttgen. Tina Turner in Düsseldorf's Philips Hall, Peter Valentiner in Büttgen's town hall. Was that the alternative for many who stayed away? For the local politicians it was rather the state parliament election campaign and for the Kaarst art lovers the vernissage of the Kaarst artist Klaus Neumayer in the Rheinisches Landestheater Neuss on the same evening. Nevertheless, the exhibition was still better attended than some others of the recent past.

The exhibition contains the whole dilemma of the city administration. There is an alderman with an interest in art - what luck for a city - who likes to cook his own soup. The great interest of the population in local greats is deliberately addressed by the administration with contrasting exhibitions. On the one hand, "gallery 44" helps, on the other hand, the administration. In itself not a bad approach, the efforts are honest and commendable, but it is not yet a concept to go to Trier for the 2000th anniversary and to bring two artists from a large exhibition to Kaarst.

Peter Valentiner, whose: Works will be on show in Büttgen until 12 May, is a typical case of town hall thinking. The artist has travelled internationally: Born in Copenhagen, French nationality, lecturer in Trier, lives in Berlin, Cologne and Paris. The business card on display shows three addresses. Founder, member, president, prize-winner, collaborator: such terms run like a thread through the biography of the 43-year-old artist. Represented at the International Art Fair Cologne, exhibited in Paris and awarded a prize, what more could you want when such a person exhibits in a town of 4000 souls like Kaarst?

A lady from the cultural committee had the pleasure of seeing the artist at work in his studio. She said that understanding his method of laying nets over photographs awakened her appreciation for the paintings on display. The résumé of the introductory lecture by the art critic Martin Hildebrand from Wiesbaden also leaves the viewer out in the cold: "This painting appears as something that cannot be approximated by words."

The exhibition visitor who comes to the town hall during the week and knows nothing of all this is more likely to think what Hildebrand anticipated: "It seems to have little to do with human needs." For him, Valentine's painting is the result of play and seriousness, sensuality and intellectuality, precisely the "floating balance of the world". Rhetorical phrases such as "one can thereby experience oneself anew" do not shed much light on this.

Rather, the simple description of the Trier exhibition concept of showing European contemporary artists who take the surface and its design as their starting point. The way Valentiner shapes the surface with his "patch technique" of glued-on, uncovered forms torn open in strips is interesting. Seemingly anarchic, designing without a system, his work takes on a strict, almost stubborn order in the overall view of the exhibition, almost to the point of being overwhelming.

What is fascinating about his work is how Valentiner plays off surface against ornament, colour against colour, plane against plane, technique against technique, straight against disorderly. The more small-scale his compositions are, the more convincing they are for him. In No. 16, for example, a serenity arises, the chaos has been given an order. The larger the individual parts of the composition become, the more the effect on the viewer is cancelled out, but the colour comes more and more to the fore. Seen in the context of contemporary art in Europe, however, this painting is not particularly new, skilful or exciting.



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