The Place where stone talk – the magic world of Markus Krüger

Markus Krüger’s first memorandum called “December 1995 first encounter with unknown terrain / feelings of uncertainty / curiosity / first explorations ” seems like a message from another world not known to us.

What kind of world did the artist experience a few years ago? When read today it sounds like the beginning of an expedition, a search with a defined, maybe also undefined aim. “Months have passed since the first encounter / magic place /again and again fascinating / more fascinated than before …”

Not far away from his own studio, the painter, graphic artist and photographer found a fascinating substantial world which he presents us in the Lippstadt Kunstverein for the first time. The “Überwelt – the transcendent world” which the artist encountered some time ago does still exist today and can be found in the South of Lippstadt between Erwitte and Anröchte.

Since December 1995, Markus Krüger has spent more and more time working outside his studio, regularly visiting his “magic place” as proven by a large number of photographs in order to expose himself to what has moved him ever since: observing a quiet but powerful gesture which can be so vivid only in a neverland, without people, machinery and/or time — in the quietness. The “magic place” as an accumulation of substantial, visual and emotional values, a place where stones like to talk, a world in which quietness and tension coexist in balance. And so the artist remarks: “Rotation / incidence of light / light moving across the dark / Mediterranean green / shifts / horizontal gap / moving shadows / overlapping layers / variable acoustic perceptions stored in the ground / lowering darkness / clouds rushing past / loneliness …” .

Markus Krüger started working on the “Stone Ages” after the people regularly working in the magic place had finished their work – in the weekends, mostly Sundays. Up to the midth of the 1990s Krüger concentrated on the composition of the pictorial space; his large-size works carried out in mixed media structured the picture entity in the mode of a gestural-painted visual language. In the recent years, this formal-aesthetic standard of picture world has gained one additional dimension with regard to the contents: seeking traces. The exhibition in the Lippstadt Kunstverein proves this in an impressing way: there are memory minutes and notes, drawings, texture pictures, script pictures, pure paintings, a large-size block containing photographs as well as a massive composition of stones. The minutes as well as the photographs were made at the local quarry whereas the drawings and the other pictures were created in the studio.

The work of art called “Begegnung – encounter” which consists of 5 pieces and is dated to 1994/95 marks the beginning of a new working phase. It already suggests what the future is going to bring. The tension in this painted work of art may be ascribed to the synthesis of colour and line. The colour spectrum is reduced to gray, ochre, Siena brown, white and black colour values. Like in early works done by Krüger, the picture spaces are “heterogeneous” and are subject to a strongly marked linear structure – motion caused by lines, action in the entire picture.

The present working phase starting in December 1995 and/or beginning of 1996 has brought along works on canvas and paper in which there is a new tendency: elements in painting and in graphic are combined into scripture. This tendency becomes radically obvious in Krüger’s purely script pictures. As they are based on the notes taken at the quarry they are also autonomous works and do not depend on the context; they show comprehensible texts and also “speechless” text fragments as autocratic picture categories.

Along with the script pictures, one can find works which definitely belong to the quarry context. One can distinguish vertical, horizontal and diagonal signs which remind us of the elements seen. At first sight these works seem to be abstract, therefore disassociated; in the context with the exhibition however they are “rebound to the source” and have their reason to exist. This also applies to the beautiful, reduced work called “Fixierte Zeit – fixed time” which can be clearly deduced from the memory minutes and notes. In the minutes and notes, the work’s central sign has a mere marginal picture expression in the character of a graffito.

The “Steinzeiten — Stone Ages” (stone field — picture field 1995-1998) represent the core of the composition and form the center of the exhibition. It is about the thrilling dialogue of remembered photography and the present stone installation. Markus Krüger selected 125 photographs out of approximately 1500 photographs which were taken at various quarries since the end of 1995 and installed them along the longest wall of the large exhibition site and in front of them ” on plain ground ” he arranged a field of limestones of various sizes in the form of an elongated rectangle. In Krüger’s creation both media owe their existence to the remembering and collecting. In numerous detail exposures, the large photo block deals with set pieces taken from the terrestrial-substantial world of a quarry, without humans and mainly without machinery. The work carried out in a quarry is not Krüger’s primary focus. The “world beyond the world” of a quarry is consciously sensed in small worlds, in black and white, in order to thus eliminate the accidental colour : the artist’s intention was to filter the essentials of an unknown world.

If you walk along this photo series attentively then you will become aware why Krüger’s artistic eye was so fascinated by this stone world. Things appearing strange to us do exist not far from our own every-day-world: mining traces, depositions, gaps, remainders of vegetation, games in the sand, signs left in the rubble, traces of large vehicles. In this case pictures lead us to a world which we would tend to associate with the surface of the moon instead of a quarry.

Beyond the working world at the quarry, Markus Krüger started an artistic expedition aiming at exploring the strange components in one’s own world. The experiment was successful as proven by the exhibition. The way the stones are composed reflects the photographer’s very special perspective in a totally different way. The formal way in which the stones gathered by Markus Krüger are composed represents an allegorical way on which the artist went. This is the substantial source for the mental contents of this painting.

Retrospectively the stone field is thus a sign for the artist’s entire working phase. As the stones have been taken out of their original context they receive an augmentation of their literally mere substantial value – in the context of art they have become vehicles of immaterial ideas.

Tayfun Belgin
(from the catalogue SteinZeiten, Kunstverein Lippstadt 1998)