Peter Noever — Below Point Zero of Art - 2004

Is it a bottom view that Manfred Wakolbinger draws his creative power from? Or perhaps just a bottom memory?

Indeed, his previous work already comprises a number of motifs that might be read and reappraised as reflecting subaquatic impressions, notably so against the background of his most recent underwater photography. These motifs include not only the subject of containment that keeps reappearing in endless variations, but also the dream of an infinite volume, of the mutual permeation of form and content.

Isn’t this light, apparently a mere presence without any localizable source, also present in the endless waves and ripples of his polished copper sculptures? This loss in spatial feeling, unfathomable depth in which the human gaze can no longer gauge dimensions, don’t they also make themselves felt when Wakolbinger encases his sculptures under glass, translocating them from tangible three-dimensionality to the endless depth of the flat pictorial surface?

Isn’t this an inside view into, and from, the translucent showcases that he has created so many times, as in the case of his artistic intervention in the Permanent MAK Exhibition of Architecture of the 20th and 21st Centuries? Manfred Wakolbinger’s plunging below the surface (of the sea) is a real, not a contrived, metaphor of the art-making process.

It is the gaze of an artist who dives down into the invisible, transcending the transparent and yet opaque, groundless and ungrounded bottom of our everyday living sphere, of the overground world, so as to bring to light the unseen, the polymorphic, tinged in colors that are not a mere reflection of a spectral segment of visible light. And for him, the sculptor, the gaze turns into a physical effort, a bodily experience here. It is not imagination, fantasy, or thought that lifts things from the dark here: it is the bottom time, a measure that is not definable in space, but only in terms of length of breath, a physical stay inside pure visuality – or in what comes closest to it.

Manfred Wakolbinger takes us on a diving expedition below point zero of art. It is an invitation to watch, from there, perspectives, shapes, and bodies develop from pure motion.