‘I free writing from sense and highlight its structure, its skeleton, the nude sign, the sign that is such and does not refer back to anything but itself. It refers to the energy reserve, the initial drive, the source-giving urge, the desire to reveal itself, to emerge from the secret, closed place of night. Non-verbal writing, writing that remains in silence, original truth. Writing becomes image, a manifestation of being, of being there, in the absolute without form. An open text. A text for all. For those who know how to read and for those who do not know how to read. I shift from the literature to the visual art.’ – Irma Blank, 2001
Alison Jacques Gallery is proud to present our first solo exhibition of Milan based artist Irma Blank (born 1934 in Germany) in collaboration with Gallery P420, Bologna.
Irma Blank began to explore the intersections of linguistic and visual representation in the late 1960’s. Practicing at the same time as conceptual artists such as Mel Bochner, Lawrence Weiner and Joseph Kosuth, Blank began investigating the various possibilities through which a sign could represent existence. Her desire was to record time and create a form of writing not related to knowledge but to being, stripped of meaning and imbued with new values. This retrospective includes work from several series that Blank has completed over the past 40 years: Eigenschriften (Self writings), Trascrizioni (Transcriptions), Radical Writings, Avant-testo (Before-text), Hyper-Text, Global Writings, and Ebla Archiv (Ebla Archive).
Eigenschriften are some of Blank’s earliest works, composed of dense scriptural signs recording the artist’s mental state at a distinct point in time. The Trascrizioni series are reductions of pre-existing texts, tracings of the typographic layouts of poetry, newspapers and books from which they were taken. In Radical Writings Blank links her breathing to the gesture of writing, repeating a single action: drawing a line corresponding to one single breath. While the gesture of the Radical Writings articulates a long horizontal breath, the gesture of the Avant-testo series is chaotic and convulsive, recalling a primordial sign free of structure and purely about action. Clutching a bundle of ballpoint pens the artist traces signs with rotary movements coming from and returning to the body. The end result is a dense, saturated and impenetrable surface that only becomes transparent at the very edge, offering the viewer a small glimpse of her process.
In 2012 Blank began Ebla archiv, part of the Global Writings series. Using carbon paper to transfer her markings the artist repeated portions of words (a reduced alphabet of only eight letters) onto the page.
Irma Blank’s work will be exhibited next month at the Kunsthalle Wien. Past exhibitions include Centre Pompidou in Paris (2013), Palazzo Reale Milano (2010), Museion in Bolzano (2002, 2009), Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf (1997), PAC in Milan (1992), Folkwang-Museum in Essen (1992), MoMA in New York (1992), Heidelberger Kunstverein (1990), Bonner Kunstverein (1981), Documenta 6, Kassel (1977). Later this year the artist will have a solo exhibition at Museum Mostyn, Llandudno, North Wales.