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His images allow a space that cannot be comprehended precisely to emerge. They instead play in an atmosphere that, to a certain extent, en- compasses the space on both sides of the membrane of the surface of water. In the spheres of the refractions of light, there where the one suddenly turns into the other, where an ever new interpenetration and opposition take place, in this spheric field, Simon Raab carries out his painting. He achieves this with a technique as simple as it is complex. He applies the paint in layers on industrially manufactured image carriers, on sheets of aluminium or steel. Yet he rigidly develops the dazzling charisma of this combination. He deforms the smooth surface of the metal image carrier and thus modulates the power of the colours in ever new folds and refractions. How should one speak,” asks Beckett in his essay on the Brothers Van Velde, “of these planes that shift, these contours that vibrate, these bodies as if imprinted in mist, these equilibriums that a mere nothing is bound to break, that break apart and form anew the longer one looks? How should one speak of those colours that breathe, that cry out? Of the teeming equi- librium? … Here everything moves, floats, takes flight, returns, dissolves, forms anew. Everything ceases, incessantly.”3 What occurs in Simon Raab’s images could hardly be described more ac- curately than with these borrowed words. And nonetheless, something de- cisive should be added. The dance of surfaces and colours that appears in the square of the two-dimensional images in the case of the Van Veldes be- comes concrete in the images of Simon Raab. The surfaces go on a journey into space, unite in move and countermove into a real spatial mesh on whose edges light refracts. We enter the space of the sculptural and the terrain of the temporal, not solely imagined, reality of the image. This turn- ing towards the real space in which the observer stands characterizes the Raab’s work in a particular way. Here, the materiality of the industrially manufactured image carrier also obtains its deeper dimension. The fact that the play of colour is not only the métier and tool of the painter but must also be available to the sculptor, was described in an enchanting manner by Rodin, one of the pioneers of modern sculpture: “See these strong lights on the breasts, these energetic shadows on the folds of the flesh. Then look at these light shades, these half-lights, vaporous and trembling, on the most delicate parts of this divine body, the transitions that seem so finely shaded that they seem to dissolve in the air. What do you say? Isn’t this a prodi- gious symphony in black and white? As paradoxical as this seems, the greatest sculptors are as much colourists as the best painters … They play so skillfully all the possibilities of the relief, they combine so well the boldness of light and the modesty of shadow, that their sculptures are as luscious as the most chatoyant etchings. Now colour—this is the comment I was coming to—is like the flower of beautiful modeling. These two quali- ties always go together, and they are what give all masterpieces of sculp- ture the radiance of living flesh.”4 A great painter among sculptors in this sense is John Chamberlain. Not only because he worked with sprayed lacquer on metal carriers in an early period of his work, and was one of the first artists to do so, but rather be- cause his sculptures and reliefs, which he collages together from found metallic material from parts of wrecked autos, cans and the like, are al- ways also assembled according to the arcane laws of the play with colour. In doing so, Chamberlain trusts entirely in the moment of intuitive decision when combining the different fragments, which is comparable to the brush- stroke applied swiftly and with great vehemence, which became the char- acteristic gesture in the ductus of Abstract Expressionism. And thus Chamberlain’s colourful collages, reliefs and sculptures have repeatedly been described as an extrapolation of Abstract Expressionism into three- dimensional space. Asked whether his reliefs conceived for the wall can be understood as a form of three-dimensional painting, Chamberlain answers: “I don’t know. It seems like it’s either this one or that one. All I know is what I’ve been influenced by. I think the influence of collecting words5 had a greater impact than the idea of whether I’m a painter or a sculptor. I think I’m a sculptor. I manipulate and move objects around. I’m not painting on a canvas. I mean, there’s painting being done in what I do, but it’s an object you can handle. I don’t know whether it’s all that important. What I think is important is the resistance of this particular kind of metal I use. I think of it as being just about the same resistance and volume that people are. I think the resistance of this metal, the molecular structure, has a great deal of compatibility with people. It has to do with attitude and stance, rather than just fantasy. Whatever the fantasy is in the abstraction of this material as a collage, or a metal painting, or whatever you like to call it … it is coupled with the decision-making from a certain person … me.”6 The central decision in the work of John Chamberlain is, without doubt, the rejection of the constrained surface of the rectangular image format as a location for paint. As Chamberlain has reported, he already had prob- lems with the edges of the drawing paper in his early drawings. The limi- tation of the surface, which gave every drawing on paper a hierarchically structured significance according to whether it was placed in the center or closer to the edges, but above all the experience that the image, in its re- stricted two-dimensionality, is an inescapable carrier of an illusionistic pic- torial idea, was a problem with which Chamberlain was familiar. “I had this problem with drawings, I had a problem with the edge of the paper. I didn’t know how I should go beyond it … It sounds absurd, but I had this problem. So I laid the paper on the floor so that all the sheets of paper be- came one big sheet of paper. And then I started, and wherever there was a line, a break between two sheets of paper, I made a line or something to try to connect them to each other. When I then took them apart, I had already gone beyond the sheet of paper. So I got the impression that I was beyond the sheet of paper.”7 The thus, to a certain extent, obliterated space of the image leads to the fact that the image itself becomes a real object in space and no longer serves as a window looking into another reality. On this track, Chamberlain developed his sculptural objects. In the third dimension of the sculptural, the space unfolds in which the painterly play of colours makes its illusion-free, autonomous appearance. And it is this space in which also Simon Raab has his painting play. This is a space that is autonomous and concrete in the observer’s reality of life, and that knows no boundaries, no edges, that is engendered in the tides of the artistic. Donald Judd, who celebrated Chamberlain’s act of liberation for the autonomy of colour in numerous texts about the work of his artist-friend, 193 3 Samuel Beckett, “La peinture des van Velde ou le Monde et le Pantalon” in Disjecta: Miscel- laneous Writings and a Dramatic Fragment, New York 1984, p.128 4 Auguste Rodin, Art: Conversations with Paul Gsell/Auguste Rodin, Berkeley 1984, p.25f. 5 Starting in the spring of 1955, Chamberlain studied in the literature class of the poet Charles Olson, among others, at Black Mountain College. “I read […] and when I saw a word that I liked, I’d isolate it, I’d write it down. So I had this collection of words that I liked to look at. It didn’t matter what they meant, I liked the way they looked. I would look at these words and I would put them together […], and it’s a very good example of how I work. I still process stuff in the same way. There is material to be seen around you every day. But one day something—some one thing—pops out at you, and you pick it up, and you take it over, and you put it somewhere else, and it fits, it’s just the right thing at the right moment. You can do the same thing with words or with metal. I guess that’s part of my definition of art.” (“Conversations with John Chamberlain,” in Julie Sylvester/John Chamberlain, A Catalogue Raisonné of the Sculpture 1954–1985, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles 1986, p.11) 6 John Chamberlain in an interview with Michael Auping, in John Chamberlain, Reliefs 1960– 1982, exh. cat. of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota/Florida 1983, p.16 7 Dieter Schwarz in an interview with John Chamberlain, Shelter Island Heights, 22.5.2005, in Dieter Schwarz (ed.), John Chamberlain: Papier Paradisio: Drawings, Collages, Reliefs, Paintings, exh. cat. of the Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Düsseldorf 2005, p.12