Gabriel Vormstein – Cornament & Rime
Cornament & Rime
Edition of 1000
Published by Patricia Low Contemporary
Gabriel Vormstein’s beguiling reinterpretations of historicized Modernist icons fall somewhere between the archive and the recycled image. The female figure is central to his appropriations extracted from their original canonical source; the Voguish demimonde straight out of Egon Schiele or some of the ornamental details found in Klimt and Jugendstil, and the finely drawn lines of Modigliani’s women are often contrasted by minimal, abstract, neo-geo, or decorative motifs. Identifying with the formal beauty of Viennese Modernity and its repetition of classical forms, Vormstein’s early 21st century reinterpretations are materially underscored by his use of newspaper and plastic in place of canvas. Our present day psychological states and antagonisms are embedded in these picture doppelgangers where the editorial narratives, photo reproductions, ad copy, and typographical columns become structural elements in his cursive style of composition.
For the show’s title ‘Cornament & Rime’, he alludes to the notorious Adolf Loos’c text ‘Ornament and Crime’ as a negotiation between the ornamental motifs often dismissed as decorative and his specified choice distillation of the historicized remixes. Taking his cue from Warhol to Baldessari, and perhaps even Georg Baselitz’ remix paintings, Gabriel Vormstein, through his own subjective choice of cropping, and slight color alterations, translates such images from one context to another. As both a catalog of iconographies from a past epoch and a personalized account of his place in the time/space construct they resonate with our postindustrial obsession with images. In their gritty surfaces lie a process art of painterly physicality and a bold confrontation with the titans of Modernity. They make for a stirring verisimilitude between the original, the reproduced, the real, and the virtual. As memento mori they are cognizant that enduring images transcend their time and in a continuous loop of history retain the power of talismans.