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Heinz Gappmayr

Heinz Gappmayr was among the artist-theoreticians whose texts and artworks have been focusing since the 1960s on the connections between the visual and linguistic production of meaning. His works aim to place words, concepts, and phrases on paper, canvases, and walls in such a way that their meaning also finds expression in their compositional arrangement—to make language visibly “do” what it “means”. But as there are always several possible ways of linking linguistic form and linguistic meaning, any belief in a single, immutable visual identity of language finally proves illusionary.

In Gappmayr’s work, above all terms of being, of becoming, and of passing away are “portrayed” in dynamic sequences of letters and words. Words signifying place are visualized by corresponding positioning within the pictorial field; geometrical forms and colors are represented by tautological or contradictory linguistic and symbolic equivalents.

When the concept “time” gets thinner and thinner from letter to letter, for example, then passing and vanishing as characteristics of time seem to be inscribed in the form of the concept itself. Or when, at the moment of looking at the picture, one sees the words “at this moment,” then perception and what is perceived coincide. Tautology is used here to make visible and draw attention to that which is usually overlooked. Here, self-reflexivity results in art that counters the internalization of language and in the ability to reflect on this internalization.

 

R.F.

1925–2010, Innsbruck / AT

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