In the work of the draughtsman Hanns Schimansky, lines, folds and vague forms manifest themselves as antipodes of gestural action, of the illusionism that proffers itself or of symbolic interpretation. Viewers must display perseverance as they embark on his hissing lines, humming surfaces and rustling creases, using their eyes to follow a softly recited, wordless whisper about time, in the form of a line “progressing to infinity, in which the manifold constitutes a series that is only of one dimension”.1 Schimansky commenced this “whispering” in the mid-1980s, breaking with the representation of things that had hitherto shaped his graphic work. His focus was now on horizontals, verticals, serpentine coils, strokes, curls, circles, zigzags, outlines and dots that pass through the surfaces of papers as zones of the visible. Robert Kudielka writes that Schimansky – suspecting that “the side of a work presented for our attention is perhaps not the right one, in any case not the only one worthy of attention” – began experimenting in 1990 with folded edges and ultimately with regular, geometric folds, conceiving of the lines as “corporeal things, with a front and a back and an individual measure of resilience.”2 In his work, endurance tests increasingly take place on coloured grounds or surfaces, which Schimansky’s promenades of lines infiltrate with painting, in order to then continue the whisper in multiple voices.
1 Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason (1781), trans. and ed. Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood, Cambridge, 2019, p. 163. 2 Robert Kudielka, “Explicatio – Complicatio: Zu den Faltungen von Hanns Schimansky”, in Hanns Schimansky: quellenfeld, exh. cat. Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, Ostfildern, 2003, pp. 64–69, here: p. 65.
In the exhibition:
Hanns Schimansky Zweifarbige Faltung (Blau/Weiß), 2006 Folding, ink, gouache 93 × 144 cm Courtesy of the artist
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