Karl-Heinz Klopf


Secession, Wien


At this exhibition, the artist made use of all the different storeys of the Secession. In the rooms of the cellar gallery, Planobjekte were distributed about the floor, forming a sort of imaginary city of personal places that visitors could walk through. In the Ver-Sacrum Room at entrance level, one saw the video Platz [Square] (1992) on a monitor that had been placed on a long, protruding shelf. On the opposite wall, the word fragment “Yok” could be read on a tarpaulin. On the top floor, in the Graphics Cabinet, Klopf installed a selection of Kaschierungen [Concealings] (1989-91).

(Planen, 1993, acrylic paint on tarpaulin, 410 x 300 cm, Secession, Vienna; April 7–May 16, 1993) 


A labyrinth of objects with sections of plans on the floor, the concealing of visual clichés, the static adjustment of a city square on a monitor, a fragmentary sequence of letters on a room-sized tarpaulin, are the elements of an exhibition Karl-Heinz Klopf presents on three floors of the Vienna Secession building. These multiple representative realities culminate at first glance in a poésie concrète whose abstract universality makes us look for a key that reveals at once an absent principle. The presence of world in these artifacts is evident even though in signs that show pars pro toto only what can be shown.

The monitor image, the fragmenting section, the concealing, the schematic representation (ground-plan) are in the last analysis translations into highly abstract yet simply and unequivocally legible pictograms without relinquishing traditional means of picture production. The more or less real absence of place or subject in favor of a general interpretation of place as prototype contrasts with the presence of the picture. That is, the determining presence of the picture neutralizes the subject or the place and obliterates both in the generating mechanics of the picture structure. Particularly the “plan objects” contrast with the two-dimensional schematic ground-plans in a way that the “height” of the picture causes, as it were, an allegorical extension of the ground-plan into the third dimension albeit there is no indication in the drawing through perspective. The constructed diagram (ground-plan) represents a product generated from absence that we will call recollection being the function of human accomplishment of synthesis: time.

The concealing merely presents a faint allusion of the underlying cliché thus being more an after-image of a vanished visual impression. The above-mentioned absent places are here joined by a subject that can only be divined. Karl-Heinz Klopf's pictures do not demand the spectator's energy due to the dynamization of the plane surface (composition, alienation, etc.) but they pile the process of creation up and down in the sense of an oscillating temporal depth-structure of appearing and disappearing of picture. Also the vanishing of the motif enters into the process of creation. The lesser dynamics of picture structure, composition, dispersion, etc. are neutralized in favor of more motion of the existential and new picture reality – without abandoning the former picture/image as a perceptual device.

(Introduction to the exhibition Planen by Adolf Krischanitz, published in Karl-Heinz Klopf - Planen, Secession, Vienna, 1993)

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