<h1>Michael Biberstein: Towards Silence</h1>
<h1>Michael Biberstein: Towards Silence</h1>
<h1>Michael Biberstein: Towards Silence</h1>

The Swiss painter Michael Biberstein (1948) has prepared a project specifically for Galerie Rudolfinum, featuring a large collection of new pictures, supplemented with a number of crucial works from the nineties. The theme of Michael Biberstein’s work is an artificially construed fantasy landscape that is the essence of a venerable tradition in European painting. His starting point is not directly observed reality, but already existent and culturally codified landscape paintings from the middle ages to the recent past. Biberstein’s landscapes are not however mere copies, direct references to older works, but more a mosaic of key formulae in European landscape painting, supplemented of late by references to traditional Chinese painting. These monumental works are metaphors for landscape, a depiction of a way of thinking about landscape and through landscape, and not a picture of a landscape, of a specific section of a real landscape, of a surface.

The issue of the relation between picture and painting has been central to Michael Biberstein’s interest since the start of his work as an artist. He devoted the seventies and eighties to an analytical, predominantly conceptual interrogation of the language of pictures. He painted greatly reduced, almost minimalist studies of the relationships between the individual constituents of colour, surface, line, structure and space, the relationships between picture and object. For some time he tried, by means of isolating the individual elements of a picture, to create and formulate – in his own words – a certain “semiotics of the picture through the picture”. At the end of the eighties his previous investigation of significant relationships in a stark, extremely simplified geometrical form turns to the opposite extreme. Biberstein begins painting baroquely dramatic landscapes, blatantly exaggerated compositions of remote and rugged mountain scenery under stormy skies. The theme of space is again prominent, but now transmuted in the picture. In the nineties his paintings become larger and larger while the urgent drama of his landscapes recedes. More and more, the painter’s attention turns to the endless space above the landscape, to the unfathomably changeable flow of air, clouds, mist and light. The rational aspect of conceptual thought remains ever-present in these imaginary landscapes, hidden behind an imaginative ambiguity which gradually assumes a transcendental force. Here Biberstein touches on the profound philosophical questions of man’s relation to the world, to the unfathomably flowing, endlessly changeable universe that lies beyond the reach of human will. His present work tends towards an unprecedented monumentalism, backed by a broad intellectual scope combining European thought with the tradition of the Far East.

Michael Biberstein’s exhibition “Towards Silence” is another element in the line taken by Galerie Rudolfinum, presenting various aspects of contemporary landscapes. The start was last year’s exhibition by Chinese landscape painter Qiu Shi-hua, entitled Painting at the Edge of Visibility, and in this year’s exhibition of photographs by Pavel Baňka entitled Infinity. A related event was the film project Three Windows, about the American poet Robert Lax.

Curator: Petr Nedoma

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