Without a doubt, the planning stage of a work assumes a fundamental importance in the linguistic strategy of Lincoln Schatz, as it carries special articulations of the subject matter devised by the artist. Schatz predisposes an initial form which is progressively developed through modular moments that multiply, without repeating, the point of departure. The module becomes the structural element which fuses the possibility of a form which plays upon the complexity of a potentially infinite multiplication of the surprise of geometry. Conventionally, geometry seems to be a field of pure evidence and inert demonstration, a place of a mechanical and purely functional rationality. In this sense, it seems to privilege the premise, in so far as the conclusion becomes the inevitable outcome of a process that is deductive and simply logical.
Schatz has instead developed a different use for geometry, as the prolific field of an irregular logic that loves to develop its own principles asymmetrically, adopting surprise and emotion. But these two elements do not contradict the conceptual principle; if anything, they reinforce it through a pragmatic ( and not a preventive) application of descriptive geometry.
Not coincidentally, this American artist continually travels between the two dimensional space of the design and the three dimensional space of the execution of the form, from the black and white of the idea to its polychromatic articulation.
This work is a demonstration that the idea engenders a creative process that is not purely demonstrative, but prolific and proliferating. In fact, the final form, in two or three dimensions, proposes a visual reality that is not abstract, but concrete, pulsing under the analytical and emotional glance of the spectator. The principle of an asymmetrical logic, which institutes irregularity as a creative principle, supports the work of Schatz. In this sense, the form does not cancel itself in the idea, for there is not a cold speculation between project and execution. The work carries within itself the possibility of an asymmetry that is accepted and assimilated in the conception, which participates in the mentality of modern art and in the conception of the world that surrounds us, constituted by the unforeseen and the surprising.
In such a way, the planning stage becomes invested with a new meaning. It no longer refers to a moment of arrogant precision, but rather to a moment of open verification, even if it is guided by a method constructed through the practice of execution. The method naturally refers to the need for a constant and progressive parameter, anchored to a historical awareness of a context dominated by the principle of technique.
Technology develops productive processes anchored to standardization, objectivity, and neutrality. These are constitutive principles which have a different fertility than those of the traditional hyper-subjective idea of the difference. In this respect Schatz, like LeWitt, together with Warhol, is a classically American artist, healthy bearer of an art capable of producing difference through the creation of forms that utilize standardization, objectivity, and neutrality in a fertile manner; that is, able to filter through the imaginary of a mass society pervaded by the primacy of technique, and by this technique emptied of subjectivity.
But this emptying is not viewed as a loss by Schatz , as it could seem to a late humanistic or Marxist mentality. Instead, it becomes the result of a new anthropology of man which functions according to a metabolism of modular reason which does not, however, mean a logic of symmetrical repetition but of asymmetrical multiplication, an application, precisely, of the new rules of intelligent chance as opposed to indistinct chaos. Intelligent chance signifies man’s capacity to accept discontinuity without falling into the desperation of an impotent rationality. This acceptance comes from a loss of arrogance on the part of Western logocentrism as it incorporates the patient, analytical mode of the Oriental world and moves pragmatically, no longer in military formation but in availability to the world.
This is the procedure used by Schatz who, in his own way, constructs monuments to contemporary reality.
In the work of Schatz, as in that of European and American artists of the second postwar period, there emerges a concept of a healthy negative utopia, understood as the awareness of the inability of art to found an order outside of it’s own precinct. In some way the ethic of making prevails over the politics of creating; an ethic which, in any case, isolates a process of focusing on the conceptual and executive procedures of art.
Here we have not figures but geometric forms, which, however, constitute the figures of our age, inhabited as it is by technology and straining towards the dematerilization and the abstraction of the physical. But art tends instead to render form evident, to give a physical presence even to geometry. In fact Schatz’s forms, whether in two or three dimensions, are always concrete linguistic realities, statements of an order of ideas that is never repressive and closed, but fertile and unpredictable. In every case, the forms germinate and multiply with unexpected placements that unfold the potential of a new geometric eroticism. These forms are always of a domestic monumentality, which does not allude to the arrogance of American skyscrapers or to the rhetoric of sculpture. Utilizing this approach means not wanting to engage in a conventional war against the forms existing in reality, but instead creating a linguistic field of analysis and synthesis. Analysis as a product of the possibilities for verification upon the germination of these families of form and the observation of synthesis that produces the delicate power of the whole as it unfolds under our eyes.
By Achille Bonito Oliva
Galeria Ferran Cano, Palma de Mallorca, Spain | 1996