It is possible that the artist Benjamin Dittrich has little knowledge about the self-sustaining life forces (autopoiesis) of a fruit fly in the future; it is certainly true of this author here. Dittrich has long been exploring the forms of reality coexisting in the world and possibilities of their representation through the painting medium. Though this process, he triggers the principles of automatic self-organization of form that manifest on the canvas. Without doubt, Dittrich induces these weaker or stronger impulses that may escape advance assessment into Systems art via the creative act.

His new collection of works, created in 2019/20 and now being exhibited to the public for the first time at the Kleindienst Gallery, offers an insight into this pictorial knowledge. The colorful paintings are characterized by an extremely complex formal language and may present the viewer with an overall impression of abstraction, occasionally suggesting figurative elements that are reminiscent of historical paradigms of classical modernism. However, this well-known interplay within paining is, at best, a by-product rather than the central concern of the artist. In his paintings, Dittrich negotiates a form of reality that resides outside the sense of sight. He operates with images of science.

The exploration of reality, be it microcosmical or microcosmical, has long since advanced into the realms of phenomena that, even with optical aids, are too small or too far away for the eye to grasp. The corresponding attempts at linguistic description reach the limits of cognition and, therefore, images are used as graphic explanatory models of things that cannot be made visible. This alleged supremacy of the image over the language, the so-called iconic turn, will expand as long as science continues to investigate areas of knowledge for which linguistic articulation is deemed inaccurate and, instead, greater trust is placed in the articulacy of images.

Images aid the understanding of written language. Dittrich´s paintings begin at this intersection of images that explain text and texts that prescribe content. The oil-painted canvases reproduce a number of interwoven scientific images from a single academic source namely, Erich Jantsch‘s The Self-Organizing Universe, which covers matters from the Big Bang to the human spirit. Yet, the borrowed originals are not only altered by the creative act but also deprived of accompanying commentary such as descriptions, legends and captions. It is often said that contemporary art demands commentary. Hence, Dittrich´s paintings prompt the question of how to handle these images that have been stripped of their commentary. What remains are graphic compositional structures emptied of texts and painterly filled with color. Alternatively, one could also speak of pictorial spaces whose willingness to communicate Dittrich has silenced with paint. Is Dittrich then an iconoclast?

After all, he deconstructs the existing meaning of his pictorial sources in favor of an aesthetic autonomy of form and color. Precisely because of this, he again becomes the ultimate creator of the image. If we were to trust the title of the book, from which the pictures were originally taken, then the organizes itself starting from the Big Bang to the human mind itself. Conversely, it may seem that Dietrich is trusting the self-organizing forces of painting in order to create new realities. 

Marcus Andrew Hurttig (Curator, Museum of Fine Arts, Leipzig)



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