Digitalised Constructivism

Digitalised Constructivism

The Hungarian-born painter, photographer and filmmaker László Moholy-Nag, is famous for works that focus on light, time and chance. Having taught at the Bauhaus, a school whose main ethos was the unification of art and technology, his influence is apparent 50 years later in the career of Barbara Kasten (b. 1936), which was built upon the pillars of postmodern architecture and constructivism. Using a variety of disciplines, the resulting collections have built a new and innovative technique.

The ground-breaking 1970s series Construct is a clear example of this. Images from a polaroid camera capture a tableau of materials, echoing sculpture and painting and transforming preconceived notions. Though the “constructs” appear small and fragile, they are hard assemblages: mesh screens, plaster obelisks and cones, metal plates, black rods, and Perspex are meticulously put together to create geometric forms. These sculptures appear mechanised, light glancing off the corners and flat lines, creating a spatial rhythm reminiscent of the works of the great Russian Suprematist painter Kazimir Malevich.

Transpositions (2014-2016) and Collisions (2016) also utilise subversive politics: large-scale compositions invite viewers to question their visual interpretations. Featuring the man-made compound, Plexiglas, the sculptures’ invoke transparency whilst simultaneously using bright, saturated colours to blend foreground into background. The abstraction of dimensions is only further enhanced through an engagement with photography. Taking ideas from postmodernity, the installations are immortalised within the frame of a flattened image.

This February, Thomas Dane gallery, London, hosts Kasten’s first solo, UK-based exhibition. Showcasing over 40 years of experimentation and “painting in motion”, this unique exhibition also introduces a new type of formal dialogue. Revolutions (2017) further layers metacommentaries between different media, using moving image recording for the first time,  demonstrating a life-long dedication to interrelating art with technology.  This utterly responsive show demonstrates the importance of syncing practices with the contemporary, digital climate, whilst maintain links to influential predecessors.

Barbara Kasten, Intervals, 3 February – 25 March, Thomas Dane Gallery, London.

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1. Barbara Kasten, Collision 1T, 2016. Image Courtesy the artist and Bortolami Gallery, New York.