‹Essential Landscape› Florian Dombois, George Steinmann


In contemporary art the discourse about landscape is led with great diversity. There exist many diverse approaches of how landscape and art have an impact on each other. Nature has aided and been reflected in art in numerous ways from placing „culture“ in areas of unspoiled nature on numerous sculpture shows, to pseudo-scientific analyses of entire spatial areas.

Whereas the first scenery illustrations during Renaissance were only meant to be lovely background compositions, they emancipated and resulted in the glorification in the Early Victorian period and Romanticism. The impressionists even got their own genre.

‹Essential Landscape› tries to continue the discourse, by revolving the question which landscape could be named „essential“ by means of two artistic positions. As well as in Florian Dombois`as in George Steinmann’s work there are many connections to scenery in respect to nature.

Although the works of both artists are formally absolutely different, they share the same basic fundamental thought, namely the one to explore nature in a multilayered way. For decades they have been working on a coherent cosmos by composing collected materials and hypotheses into strongly charged works.

Florian Dombois is actually a natural scientist, and therefore it is not surprising that he uses an entire repertoire of measuring instruments in order to materialize his works. In the current exhibition there are two works shown and a third one will be added during a happening at the finissage.

In „The Channel“ the artist leads us through two confronting bended wood panels.

Psychological interpretations of the birth experience obtrude, as you literally force yourself through a quaint, organic shape. You get an almost sensual feeling, passing those two apparently non-correlative curves.

The two panels map the exact opposing shorelines of the channel between Calais and Dover, one of the most famous and mystically loaded sounds of the world. You suddenly realize, that you find yourself within a terrain model. This three-dimensional map is not true to scale but a fabricated experience.

In <Horizon with seven hills> Florian Dombois developed a drafting/drawing machine, similar to those used in day-to-day climate research: The thermo-and hygrometer measures the temperature and the humidity in the display window of the gallery. The data is then transferred onto a sheet of paper. Every week at the same time a new sheet without scales will be installed. The result is always a new drawing, devoid of any scientific value due to the missing scale, just visually beautiful: You just see „mountains“ and „valleys“, a horizon line, a landscape drawn by the ethical moods of nature.

George Steinmann’s artistic main interests clearly are drawn from life’s ethical basic questions. It is obvious that his main concern is regarding the interaction between nature and culture. His works always refer to sustainability as well as the substance in material composition. Impressively he shows in the exhibition groups of great diversity.

He literally combs through primeval forests and areas all over the world. He brings back wonderful, poetic photos, recalling past times. Deserted industrial areas are another of his inspirational sources. These exist on the other end of the spectrum; showing that cultivated land will one day be recaptured by nature.

He often fixates the photos with homemade blueberry juice giving them a particular, colourful intense, rich tonality.

In the era of synthetic colours George Steinmann goes back to nature by using specially extracted paint ingredients from the interior of the earth. The search for sources is transformed into a performative- meditative act, a search for the sincere content of the substance. The taking of assumedly cleared water, from which minerals are unhinged, is an alchemistic act and is lifting the resulted/emerged works on a meta level of art.

A last group of work deals with text, in particular with texts on multinational ethics. The artist meticulously wrote the words and phrases on the canvas by hand, covering the text again and again just to overwrite it once more.

The emerged paintings look geometrically structured at first glance, unfolding in their multilayered composition an immense aesthetic and in its content profoundness.


Bernhard Bischoff, August 2008

Translation: Patsy Kornfeld