During a visit to the city Twentynine Palms in southern California, Reyle saw a mural characterised by horizontal bands of colour. He took a picture of the wall and brought it home with him to his studio. Here he commenced an extensive serial production of paintings. He painted the works with horizontal or vertical bands, either with the same blurred effects as in Untitled or as sharply divided stripes in a wealth of different colours.
The painting’s airbrush technique is striking, hypnotising the viewer, making it difficult to focus on the work’s surface. The blurred lines gently embrace their audience, seducing them to a different place. The one looking at the artwork is confronted with a painting where no artist has left any traces. There is only the painting and the viewer, the encounter with the art is about the viewer’s own experience of the work, not what the artist felt or thought when he created the work.
Untitled refers to the American artists Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko. Newman worked with sharp blocks of colour in large formats in the Colour Field painting of the 1950s and 60s. He wanted to create works in which the artist was indiscernible next to the work and the viewer. Mark Rothko too worked with this idea, painting foggy veils of colour, softening the confrontation with the artwork and making the experience of the work almost meditative.
Anselm Reyle’s art in general
Reyle’s art covers a broad spectrum. He works especially with painting, sculpture and installations, creating his works from a form of ready-mades - objects or ideas that already exist. They might be everyday objects he chances upon and reworks, or ideas and works from modern art history which he quotes and makes his own.
Reyle works closely with specialised craftsmen and assistants. This is necessary because of his versatile use of materials. Reyle will do a computer sketch and select colours for a given work. Then the assistants begin their work with the painting. Conclusively Reyle may add or change a colour. With a big team backing him up, Reyle is able to develop his ideas and mass-produce a host of works with the same basic idea, painting technique and composition.
Reyle's Ready-madesReyle finds his materials and ideas in various places. A small African soapstone figurine, for instance, he found in his mother’s attic. He enlarged it and painted it with glossy paint. The little souvenir was transformed into a shiny, abstract sculpture which exists in several versions.
Reyle also painted wooden wagon wheels with neon colours, pasted mirrors onto lampshades and poured paint on old vases that he found in jumble sales.
Reyle had the idea for his paintings with aluminium foil when walking past a shop window in a Berlin street. The window was decorated with crumpled aluminium foil. He then mounted some cheap foil in an expensive acrylic box, thus imbuing the foil with a serious expression: It went from being a simple decoration material into being art.
After visiting a factory that produced neon tubes, Reyle began integrating neon tubes in his art, combining tubes of various lengths and colours in a sculpture hanging from the ceiling. The works solidity stands in sharp contrast to its fragile materials.
Reyle follows the example of twentieth century abstract art. In modernism in which painting no longer depicted anything concrete, thus turning abstract, the colours now became the most significant aspect. They were to express a feeling or mood. Reyle pursues this idea too but he adapts the elements of modernism to our time by employing neon and plastic colours. This presumably is one of the reasons that Reyle’s works sometimes are referred to as clichés and kitsch. At first glance they resemble something we already know, but in an intensified form.